I have been a member since December 2004 of a Presbyterian-Jewish dialogue group formed as a result of the first effort by the Presbyterian Church
(USA) to inject itself into the divestment (which grew into boycott, divest
and sanction) movement. So I read with great interest Rabbi Joshua Davidson’s very
clearly heartfelt comments about the prospects for repairing the relationship
between the Jewish community and the Presbyterian Church (USA) in the
aftermath of this summer’s resolution in favor of divestment (“Repairing A Relationship With Presbyterian Clergy,” Opinion, Aug. 29).

As one who has
met with and studied the Israeli-Palestinian
divide from a Jewish and Christian perspective with Presbyterian colleagues
on a regular basis, planned for upcoming Presbyterian biennials, traveled to
Israel as part of a group of 10 Presbyterians and 9 Jews (including clergy of
both faiths), etc., I respectfully submit that Rabbi Davidson is
dreaming and, in the process, deceiving himself.

There is no question that
the Presbyterians with whom he met were well-meaning friends of the Jewish
community. The problem is that they do not control what happens at the
Church’s biennial gatherings vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinians, and
never will. The very first vote on divestment (targeting Caterpillar) in
June 2004, was “explained” [by Church officials] after the fact as a “midnight end-around” by a
”splinter group,” an act that “caught everyone by surprise.” It was dismissed
because the 2004 resolution was merely “advisory.” The explanation of
 “surprise” rang hollow when it was offered every two years thereafter.

The
fact is that there is a virulent anti-Semitic (yes, anti-Semitic, not
”anti-Israeli policies”) group within the Church power structure, including
the Middle East Study Group, which has hijacked the debate and imposed its
warped view on the resolutions considered every two years. It
was only a matter of time, reached in 2014, before the proponents overtook
the opposition and the resolution passed. As well-meaning as our friends are
— and I have no doubt about their friendship — they do not have the same
“fire in their bellies” as do the proponents of the one-sided debate and vote
which resulted in this summer’s outrage.