ADL blasts Presbyterians for supporting divestment from Israel

Posted: Friday, July 23, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) The Anti-Defamation League has condemned a vote by delegates to the national meeting of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that supported divesting from companies that do business with Israel.

The denomination's General Assembly voted 431-62 to direct its corporate witness office to research withdrawing church investments from the Jewish state, modeling the action on the divestment campaign against South African apartheid two decades ago.

ADL national director, Abraham Foxman, and interfaith director Gary Bretton-Granatoor, said they were ''offended and distressed'' by the vote and by others at the meeting this month.

''To assert that there is a moral equivalency between the racist policy of apartheid and the efforts to protect the citizenry of Israel is unconscionable,'' the ADL leaders wrote in a letter to Presbyterian officials last week, accusing delegates of ignoring the deadly attacks on Israel by suicide-bombers and other security threats.

But the Rev. Victor Makari, the Presbyterian's liaison to the Mideast, said in support of divestment, ''If nothing else seems to have changed the policy of Israel toward Palestinians, we need to send a clear and strong message.''

The delegates also rejected a proposal that would have suspended funding to a Philadelphia ''messianic'' congregation that uses Jewish rituals as part of its efforts to convert Jews to Christianity.

The ADL said the votes raise concerns about any interfaith dialogue between the denomination and Jewish groups.

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