Rebuttal: Antisemitism was a factor in Presbyterian divestment

Rebuttal: Antisemitism was a factor in Presbyterian divestment

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WASHINGTON, July 17, 2014  – The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s (PCUSA) vote for divestment from three U.S. companies it claims “further the Israeli occupation of Palestine” was the culmination of a decade-long lobby of the church on behalf of the global campaign for BDS (boycott, divestments and sanctions).

Missing, however, from the news reports after the PCUSA vote was any mention of the fetid subterranean stream of antisemitism that informed the church’s deliberations.

REBUTTAL TO:  Calling Presbyterians anti-Semitic a tactic to silence Israel critics

Antisemitism is a serious charge, to be sure. Some honestly believe anti-Jewish prejudice played no role in the Presbyterian decision. However, such an assertion can only be made when lacking the full body of facts.

In a report released days after the church vote, Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor exposed clear evidence of antisemitic discourse within the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), the church affiliate responsible for pushing the divestment agenda among Presbyterians since 2004. The church is IPMN’s fiscal sponsor, enabling tax-exempt donations.[1]

The antisemitism was primarily found in discussions between members of IPMN’s Facebook page.

After a 2012 row over antisemitic content on their open Facebook page, IPMN was forced to close it down. IPMN then opened a new “closed but not secret” Facebook page with administrators who approved each member. Monitoring posted comments for antisemitic and other hateful comments in a small self-selected online community should have been a simple matter. That didn’t happen.

Believing their Facebook page to be closed, IPMN went on with business as usual. The page’s members, PCUSA senior staff, theologians, clergy, and laity, chose silent consent in the face of continued anti-Jewish hate speech.

IPMN members uploaded numerous anti-Jewish postings, with all too familiar themes. A “Zionist controlled America [has a] desperate lust” for war with Iran.  “Jewish interests” are “corrupting” the US government, and the media is “owned” and “operated” by these same “Jewish interests.” Ashkenazi Jews are not racially “Semitic,” are actually “Khazars” and therefore should not be in the Middle East.

As with the first Facebook page, IPMN members also posted links to extremist sites such as “” (which has promoted “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion[2] andHolocaust denial[3]) or The Ugly Truth, whose slogan is “Zionism, Jewish extremism and a few other nasty items making our world uninhabitable today.”[4]

Iranian state-owned Press TV was also touted by some members. One post professed “Lots of LOVE for PRESS TV,” and another announced, “IRAN! Thank God for them! The only Zionist-free land left on earth.”

All this serves as a backdrop to Zionism Unsettled, IPMN’s anti-Zionist manifesto, disguised as a “congregational study guide,” strategically released just months before the PCUSA vote. Zionism Unsettled claimed “that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is driven by a “pathology inherent in Zionism,” described the effort to establish a Jewish state as “a struggle for colonial and racist supremacist privilege,” and declared Zionism to be a “heretical” idea that “promotes death rather than life.” It also supported  BDS.

BDS’ goal is to end Israel’s existence. Omar Barghouti, a BDS co-founder, said so last November, “Definitely, most definitely do we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.  No rational, not-sell-out Palestinian will ever accept a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”[5]  Numerous other BDS leaders assert the same line.

In the months leading up to the PCUSA vote, Zionism Unsettled was sold on the church’s online store. This represented a major coup for BDS activists, who had been attempting to capture the church’s moral voice in service of their extremist agenda.

There was also support from nominally Jewish groups, such as the fringe Jewish Voice for Peace,which praised “Zionism Unsettled” as “smart and gutsy.”[6] JVP, whose annual budget of $1 million is provided by unknown donors,[7] worked closely with IPMN to lobby Presbyterians for divestment.  JVP is often cited by those who deny antisemitism in the church, in order to whitewash the issue.

After NGO Monitor’s report exposing IPMN’s antisemitic Facebook page was released, IPMN went into damage control. The page’s administrators changed the status from “closed” to “secret” and for the first time, posted a disclaimer: “THE VIEWS EXPRESSED HERE DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THOSE OF IPMN, ITS MEMBERS, OR THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (USA).” It then warned IPMN’s membership: “Anything you post could be read and reposted by unfriendly outsiders.”

The IPMN leadership again failed to take a moral stand against antisemitism, preferring retroactive disclaimers.

The Presbyterian Church is at a moral crossroads. It can either fully disassociate itself from IPMN or remain silent.  The problem, however, cannot be denied.


The report on the IPMN is available at the NGO Monitor website:

[1] See

[2] See :

[3] See THE HOLOCAUST AND THE FOUR MILLION VARIANT.  How will history remember the Holocaust, historic horror or historic hoax? It depends on whether or not World Zionism controls the history? Available at Or, “Holocaust Fundamentalism: You WILL Believe (Mark Green),” available at

[4] See

[5] Omar Barghouti, “Strategies for change,” available at

[6] See

[7] See


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