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Presbyterians, BDS and Israel — here we go again

bdsBy Noam E. Marans

NEW YORK (JTA) — In the charming movie “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray’s character repeatedly relives the same day until learning from the repetition transforms him from lout to worthy wooer of his colleague, played by Andie MacDowell.

The “Groundhog Day” of Presbyterian-Jewish relations is coming soon to a theater near you, but if we do not fully engage the issue, a Hollywood ending is unlikely.

The biennial General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has regularly included an unhealthy confrontation between pro- and anti-Israel voices. This struggle is out of sync with the norms of American interreligious comity.

For the sixth time since 2004 — this time in Detroit on June 14-21 — a minority within the denomination will attempt to convince fellow Presbyterians that Israeli-Palestinian peace can be encouraged by anti-Israel resolutions, divestment from companies doing business with Israel, boycott of Israeli products produced in the territories, labeling Israel an apartheid state and replacing church support for a two-state solution with a one-state vision signifying the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

In 2012, at the last biennial, a divestment proposal was narrowly defeated by only two votes out of 664 cast. Despite multiple defeats, divestment supporters have not given up. They are back with new tactics.

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