Yesterday evening, the Presbyterian General Assembly voted against the Caterpillar, Motorola, Hewlett Packard divestment motion by an almost surreally narrow margin of 333-331. Katherine Cunningham, vice-moderator of the Presbyterian Israel-Palestine Mission Network, commented, “It appears that church commissioners were swayed by a fear that divestment would cause irreparable harm to Jewish-Christian relations. In reality, the divestment motion was supported by a broad alliance of Jews, Christians, and others who believe that non-violent means such as divestment are an effective way to pressure the Israeli government into abiding by international law and respecting Palestinian human rights.”
This won’t be the end of it. The tide of non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation is rising, and it is difficult to see what would force could stem it. In the Presbyterian case, various volunteer organizations very nearly prevailed against a well-organized and richly subsidized professional lobbying effort, which used dishonest and fear-mongering tactics to discredit the measure. It’s hard to imagine that such tactics will work forever.
Today, the Presbyterians voted decisively to boycott certain products produced in Israel’s illegal settlements.