‘Paid Politicians’ Targeting Christian
Boycott of Israel
At the instigation of the Zionist Organization of
America, 13 members of Congress have sent a letter to the Department of
Commerce demanding that action be taken to stop the American branches of the
Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches from divesting in companies that do
business in Israel. They have suggested that the churches are in violation of
the U.S. Export Administration Act (EAA), which prohibits Americans from
participating in the long-standing Arab boycott of Israel. But the campaign by
the “paid politicians” against the Christian churches goes much further than
this: the members of Congress are going so far as to suggest that, along with
the churches, students, academic organizations and other institutions that urge
Americans to disinvest in companies doing business with Israel are also in
violation of the EAA.
The members of Congress are charging that the very
act of advocating divestment from Israel is illegal.
The ringleaders of the group are two New Jersey
representatives: Jim Saxton, a Republican, and Rob Andrews, a Democrat. The 11
others include: Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Dennis Cardoza
(D-Calif.), Michael McNulty (D-N.Y.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Madeleine Bordallo
(D-Guam), Martin Frost (D-Texas), Philip Crane (R-Ill.), Shelley Berkley
(D-Nev.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.).
A press release from the Zionist Organization of
America, dated Sept. 28, 2004, claimed credit for inducing the bipartisan group
of federal office holders to send the letter to the Commerce Department.
In the meantime, another group of congressmen, led
by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), have sent a strongly worded letter to the
Presbyterian Church USA condemning the vote to begin selective disinvestments
from companies doing business with Israel.
Those representatives joining Berman in attacking
the Presbyterian Church for its action include: Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Steny
Hoyer (D-Md.), Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), John Lewis (D-Ga.), John Linder (R-Ga.),
Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.), Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.),
Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), Barney
Frank (D-Mass.), and Lamar Smith (R-Texas).
Joining the members of Congress in slamming the
Presbyterian and Episcopal churches is Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, the
“interfaith affairs director” of the Israeli lobby group known as the
Anti-Defamation League. Bretton-Granatoor said: “The Presbyterian divestment
could potentially create a snowball effect and resurrect what had been a
moribund issue. Now it has provoked the Anglicans [the Episcopal Church—Ed.],
and we know it will not end there.”
Although the rabbi added, in a threatening
fashion, “We have to send a clear message to every church that they will have
to face a united Jewish community on this issue,” the fact is that even many
grass-roots American Jews have urged divestment in Israel, evidently shamed by
the actions of Israel against the Muslim and Christian Arab Palestinian people
under its domination.
Following the passage of measures in July 2004
calling for selective divestment of stock in corporations within the church’s
$8 billion portfolio which profit by supporting violence in Israel and
Palestine, the Presbyterian Church issued a statement saying it wanted to send
a strong message to the U.S., Israeli and Palestinian governments, so they
could begin to “lay aside arrogant political posturing and get on with forging
negotiated compromises that open a path to peace.”