Via Professor Bainbridge, the Presbyterian Church once again is considering a divestment of Israeli companies as part of an ongoing attempt to boycott everything Israeli:
Once again, the Presbyterian Church (USA) is considering divesting from certain companies that do business with the Israeli government. As I explained the last time the church went down this road, it’s a bad, anti-semitic idea:
Let’s start with a basic question: Will the PC(USA)’s decision “work”? In other words, do divestment campaigns tend to achieve their proponent’s goals? The clear answer from the empirical literature is “no.” …
Managers of pension plans are fiduciaries of the beneficiaries of those plans. When they pursue a social agenda nearly certain to result in poorer performance, they are disserving their beneficiaries. The activists at the PC(USA) may have gotten a warm and fuzzy feeling from taking a slap at Israel, but in doing so they injured Jewish-Christian relations, besmirched the one functioning democracy in the Middle East, and stabbed their own people in the back. All for the sake of a gesture that experience teaches will be fruitless.
As for whether the divestmenbt proposal is anti-semitic, I use a standard proposed by Jay Lefkowitz:
A more nuanced standard, and one that properly recognizes that legitimate criticism of Israel is perfectly appropriate, was articulated last year by Natan Sharansky. A member of the Israeli cabinet who for years had been a prisoner of conscience in the Soviet gulag, Mr. Sharansky defined one current expression of anti- Semitism by three features: the application of double standards to Israel, the demonization of Israel and the delegitimization of Israel.
As pointed out at The Weekly Standard, the renewed Presbyterian Church boycott coincides with a renewed push by a group called Kairos USA, which seeks to join various Christian denominations in opposition to Israel:
We begin with a confession of sin to Palestinians in the State of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, the diaspora and in refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. As U.S. Christians we bear responsibility for failing to say “Enough!” when our nation’s ally, the State of Israel, violates international law. Our government has financed Israel’s unjust policies and has shielded its government from criticism by the international community. At the outset of the current U.S. administration, our government led Palestinians to believe that at last we would pursue a political solution based on justice. But the “peace process” has continued to be no more than a means for the continuing colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the imprisonment of Gaza and the intensification of the structures of oppression.
The good news is that Israel remains overwhelmingly supported by Americans of all faiths, and particularly evangenlical Christians.
The singling out of Israel for scorn by groups like the Presbyterian Church remains a mystery in a world where the Presbyterian Church is not allowed to exist in many of Israel’s enemy countries, and in a region where Christians are persecuted by nearly everyone except Israel.