Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday's "Meet the Press" and denounced as "disgraceful" the Presbyterian Church's divestment from companies equipping Israeli activities in the West Bank and its blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Asked on the NBC-TV interview program if he was "troubled" by the Presbyterian Church USA's move on Friday, when it voted to withdraw its $21 million in investments from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard, Netanyahu said, "It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it's so disgraceful."
Seeming to address his remarks to American Christians, he went on to hold up Israel as "a beacon of civilization and moderation" that "protects Christians – Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East," and contrasted it to the rest of Middle East, which he characterized as being riddled "by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions."
He continued, "You know, I would suggest to this Presbyterian organization to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, see the difference." Then he advised them to "first make sure it's an armor-plated bus, and second, don't say that you're Christian."
(On CNN, Heath Rada, the Presbyterian elder who moderated the church assembly's 310-303 vote for divestment, said the decision was "not against the Jewish people," but rather against Israeli government actions that "harm the Palestinian people.")
Brushes off Abbas statement
In other remarks, Netanyahu basically brushed off Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' striking statement in Jeddah last week about the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. The interviewer quoted Abbas telling a gathering of top officials from Muslim states, "The missing settlers in the West Bank are human beings like us, we must return them to their families."
To this, Netanyahu said, "I think it was a good thing that he said that, and I think it would be tested now by his willingness to stop the incitement against Israel and the glorification of terrorists." The prime minister said two other tests of Abbas' intentions would be "that he helps us capture the kidnappers" – which Palestinian troops under Abbas' authority have been doing – and that he dissolve the Fatah-Hamas unity government.
Asserting that peace and Hamas do not go together, Netanyahu said Abbas had to choose, and he added, "I hope President Abbas chooses the right thing."
Asked at another point whether he thought the United States should join with Iran in stopping the Islamist State in Iraq and Syria, an Al-Qaida offshoot of militants who are threatening to take over Iraq, Netanyahu said, "When your enemies are fighting one another, don't strengthen either one. Weaken them both."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now