Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday criticised the decision by the Presbyterian Church to divest from US companies that have contracts with Israeli companies in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Netanyahu said that the vote on divestment was “misguided and unfair”. A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington described the vote as “shameful”.
“The resolution of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) this evening [Friday] in Detroit is shameful,” the spokesman wrote on Facebook, “it removes its ability to be a constructive partner to promote peace in the Middle East.”
Addressing an international gathering of Jewish journalists, Netanyahu described Israel as a rare bright spot in a turbulent region. While stopping short of accusing the Presbyterians of anti-Semitism, he wondered why Israel had been singled out.
AP reported him saying: “When the Middle East is fragmented in this horrible war, this savage, savage war between militant Shias and militant Sunnis… the only place where you have freedom, tolerance, protection of minorities, protection of gays, protection of Christians and all other faiths is Israel.”
Netanyahu called on the Jewish journalists to “defeat a lie … with truth, with facts, with courage.” He went on: “Let’s arrange a bus tour for Presbyterians in the region. Let them go to maybe Syria, Lebanon, Iraq. And my only suggestion for them … it be in an armour-plated bus.”
The Presbyterian Church in the US voted on Friday to divest its holdings in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions since they supply equipment used by Israel in the occupation of Palestinian territory.
The Church said Caterpillar makes bulldozers Israel uses to demolish Palestinian homes, Hewlett-Packard makes technology used to promote biased treatment of Palestinians and Motorola makes communications and security equipment that hurts Palestinians.
The moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly Heath Rada said that the bulldozers that Caterpillar makes for Israel are “not like anything we see in” the US. They are designed “to be destructive.”