In a vote that has been closely scrutinized and anticipated here at The Recovering Politician — and discussed in detail in this column I published at The Huffington Post last week — the Presbyterian Church (USA) rejected a misguided proposal to divest from companies that do business with Israel. The razor thin margin 333-331 proves the adage that every vote does indeed matter.
From the New York Times:
A deeply divided Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Thursday became the latest American church to shy away from divesting in companies that supply equipment to Israel to enforce its control in the occupied territories, after a passionate debate that stretched late into the evening and a vote that was nearly a tie.
The decision not to divest, the culmination of an eight-year process, was watched intensely by Christians, Jews and Palestinians in the United States and in the Middle East. It is likely to bring a sigh of relief to Jewish groups in Israel and the United States that lobbied Presbyterians against divestment, and to dismay the international movement known as B.D.S. — Boycott, Divest and Sanctions — which advocates using economic leverage to pressure Israel to return occupied land to the Palestinians.
By a vote of 333 to 331, with two abstentions, the church’s General Assembly voted at its biennial meeting in Pittsburgh to toss out the divestment measure and replace it with a resolution to encourage “positive investment” in the occupied territories. The results were so close that, when posted electronically in front of the convention, they evoked a collective gasp. After two and a half hours of passionate debate, the replacement resolution to invest in the territories passed more easily, 369 to 290, with eight abstentions.
Presbyterians in favor of divestment said that their church could not in good conscience hold stock in companies that they said perpetuate an unjust occupation and undermine the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But opponents said that divestment would unfairly vilify Israel, and accomplish little but further polarization.