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PC(USA) condemns Israeli military actions in Gaza

Israelis wave national flags during a march marking Jerusalem Day, an Israeli holiday celebrating the capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, in front of the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. The Associated Press/Photo by Leo Correa

PC(USA) condemns Israeli military actions in Gaza

The Presbyterian Church (USA) 226th General Assembly, held from June 25th to July 4, passed initiatives expanding its condemnation of the Israeli military’s recent actions in Gaza, and what the denomination characterizes as Christian Zionism. The assembly also outlined and passed strategies to divest from nations and companies it believes are violating Biblical and humanitarian principles. One 2024 overture, titled On Confessing our Complicity in Christian Zionism, denounced evangelical support for the denomination's concept of Christian Zionism in all forms and commissioned a study document on its growth.

What is Christian Zionism, according to the PC(USA)? The church defines Christian Zionism as both a political and theological belief system. Under the church’s definition, adherents use Christian texts to espouse the belief that the modern state of Israel has a cosmic purpose to bring about the end of the world and usher in the second coming of Christ. As the PC(USA) defines it, the belief system advocates for the ingathering of Jews worldwide into the state of Israel, the enlargement of Israel’s territory, the destruction of Muslim holy sites and the removal of non-Jews from Israel.

The PC(USA) compared Christian Zionism with ideologies such as “settler colonialism”, and argued that such ideologies violate the Ten Commandments. The denomination advocated for a clear distinction between Biblical Israel and the modern Israeli state, and called for equal human rights for both Palestinians and Israelis.

What divestment strategies did the PC(USA) suggest? One 2024 resolution recommended that the Presbyterian Foundation and Board of Pensions divest from and refrain from investing in the governmental debt of countries with long-term military occupations until the UN determines that those occupations have ended. It identified Israel, Morocco, and Turkey as nations that the denomination claims are actively engaged in occupations.

The Assembly also approved a 2024 overture that cited alleged human rights violations occurring by means of the products and technologies of General Electric and Palantir Technologies, Inc. It urged the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment to engage with these companies to encourage them to reject practices that the PC(USA) believes violate human rights. The committee is to report its divestment recommendation based on these efforts to the General Assembly in 2026.

Has the PC(USA) made similar decisions in the past? The PC(USA) General Assembly has made several moves to condemn Israel’s military operations over the past two decades. In 2004, it began to divest from corporations it believed were operating unjustly in Israel. In 2012, the General Assembly approved a boycott of goods made in what it said were Palestinian territories occupied by Israel.

An overture from the 2022 General Assembly accused Israel of committing apartheid against Palestinians, and a 2024 overture recommended educational resources and strategies on the subject.

In March, Acting Stated Clerk of the General Assembly Rev. Bronwen Boswell joined church leaders from many denominations around the world in signing a letter that called for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Palestine and an end to military assistance and weapons aid to Israel.

Catherine Gripp

Catherine Gripp is a graduate of World Journalism Institute.

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