Jewish Voice for Peace disputes the reports from The Times on the Presbyterian Church’s meeting

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted yesterday to back off from a decision it made two years ago to pursue divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s involvement in the Palestinian territories.

Relating to divestment, the most significant change was in language used to describe the longstanding Presbyterian process used to pressure companies linked to human rights abuses in various countries.The 2004 language was this:

“7. Refers to Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) with instructions to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action.”

As of yesterday, The new language is this:

“7. To urge that financial investments of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, be invested in only peaceful pursuits, and affirm that the customary corporate engagement process of the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investments of our denomination is the proper vehicle for achieving this goal.”

As you can see, the vote was an affirmation that the `customary corporate engagement process`, which opens the door to divestment, `is the proper vehicle for achieving this goal.` It should also be noted that the GA voted this year to use this very same corporate engagement process in the context of Sudan.

To be sure, this is a softening of the divestment language, and it means the push to get the PCUSA to apply firm economic pressure to end the occupation needs to intensify. But it is also a far cry from revoking the 2004 decision, as the media and some pro-occupation groups are portraying it. MondoWeiss