Jewish officials in San Francisco felt insulted that the local presbytery never informed them of its overture.And a little more.... Presbyterians certainly don't speak for my conscience.
“That’s awful hurtful,” said Jonathan Bernstein, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Central Pacific Region. “I feel like they didn’t really learn a lesson” from the uproar over the 2004 resolution about the need to inform Jewish colleagues about their actions.
It also hasn’t been easy for Jay Tcath, vice president of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago and director of its Jewish Community Relations Council.
He has limited his interaction with the local presbytery since the fall of 2004 because the group delayed addressing the divestment resolution. Instead, he turned his attention to individual churches in the area, which he said are more open to dialogue on the issue.
“Friends don’t allow slanders to stand against other friends,” he said.
Matters worsened when the Chicago presbytery’s Middle East task force met with leaders of the radical fundamentalist group Hezbollah in Lebanon last fall.
It was smoother in Atlanta, where Jewish officials got early word of an overture for divestment because of their strong interfaith relationships. They successfully called for its withdrawal in favor of broadened dialogue.
Presbyterians are considered the “conscience” and reason of the Protestant community, serving as something of a “swing vote,” Rudin said.
Indeed, after the Presbyterians’ 2004 resolution on divestment, several other Protestant communities took up the issue. The Methodists decided to study their options; the United Church of Christ, also known as the Congregationalists, endorsed divestment but did not create a process to enact it; the Episcopalians considered but rejected divestment; and the Lutherans rejected a divestment resolution, and instead passed a resolution to invest in cooperative ventures between Israelis and Palestinians.