Monday, March 30th13.1°C
25757
25263

Presbyterians to divest stock to protest Israeli policy on Palestinians; 3 companies targeted

DETROIT - The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday became the most prominent religious group in the United States to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting to sell church stock in three companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories.

The General Assembly voted by a razor-thin margin — 310-303 — to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two years ago, the General Assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.

The American Jewish Committee, a policy and advocacy group based in New York, said the vote was "driven by hatred of Israel." But Heath Rada, moderator for the church meeting, said immediately after the vote that "in no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters."

The decision is expected to reverberate beyond the 1.8 million-member church. It comes amid discouragement over failed peace talks that have left activists desperate for some way to affect change and as the broader movement known as BDS — or boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — has gained some momentum in the U.S., Israel's closest and most important ally.

Presbyterians who advocated for divestment insisted their action was not part of the broader boycott movement. Israeli officials, along with many American Jewish groups, denounced the campaign as an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state. Separately, the assembly also voted to re-examine its support for a two-state solution.

The top Presbyterian legislative body has been considering divestment for a decade. Representatives of the Presbyterian socially responsible investment arm told the national meeting in Detroit that their efforts to lobby the three companies for change had failed. Carol Hylkema of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian group that advocates for Palestinians and spearheaded the drive for divestment, said their action was modeled on the divestment movement to end apartheid in South Africa. The 2012 assembly had endorsed a boycott of Israeli products made in the Palestinian territories.

"Because we are a historical peacemaking church, what we have done is, we have stood up for nonviolent means of resistance to oppression and we have sent a clear message to a struggling society that we support their efforts to resist in a nonviolent way the oppression being thrust upon them," said the Rev. Jeffrey DeYoe, of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network.

The vote was the subject of intense lobbying both from within and outside the church. Rabbis and other members of Jewish Voice for Peace, which advocates for Palestinians, lined the halls of the meeting and prayed in vigils outside the convention centre wearing T-shirts that read, "Another Jew Supporting Divestment." Other rabbis and their Presbyterian supporters held panel discussions and sent letters to delegates urging them to vote no.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, which is the largest branch of American Judaism, addressed the delegates twice, urging them to reject divestment. After the vote, Jacobs said the denomination as a whole is no longer "a partner for joint work on Israel-Palestine peace issues."

In leading an effort to strike down the proposal, Frank Allen of the Central Florida Presbytery told delegates, "Divestment will create dissension. Dialogue and relationship building will lay the groundwork for true peace."

Bill Ward of the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, based in Spokane, Washington, argued the proposal was not an attack on Israel. The measure adopted Friday reaffirms Israel's right to exist. "It is motivated by stewardship integrity, not partisan political advocacy," Ward said.

Two smaller U.S. religious groups have divested in protest of Israeli policies: the Friends Fiduciary Corp., which manages assets for U.S. Quakers, and the Mennonite Central Committee. Last week, the pension board of the United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant group in the U.S., revealed plans to sell holdings worth about $110,000 in G4S, which provides security equipment and has contracts with Israel's prison system. However, the United Methodist Church had rejected church-wide divestment.

Motorola Solutions said in a statement that the company follows the law and its own policies that address human rights. Hewlett-Packard said its checkpoints for Palestinians were developed to expedite passage "in a secure environment, enabling people to get to their place of work or to carry out their business in a faster and safer way." Caterpillar has said it does not sell equipment to Israel, just to the U.S. government.

A church spokeswoman estimated the value of Presbyterian holdings in the companies at $21 million.

____

Zoll reported from New York.

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News




Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14908.39+95.97
S&P CDNX680.33-1.10
DJIA17976.31+263.65
Nasdaq4947.44+56.22
S&P 5002086.24+25.22
CDN Dollar0.7878-0.0008
Gold1183.00-1.80
Oil48.06-0.62
Lumber280.60+1.30
Natural Gas2.62-0.05

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.115-0.010
Knighthawk0.010.00
QHR Technologies Inc1.50+0.00
Cantex0.03-0.01
Anavex Life Sciences0.215-0.004
Metalex Ventures0.04-0.01
Russel Metals24.40-0.10
Copper Mountain Mining1.18+0.05
Colorado Resources0.12-0.01
ReliaBrand Inc0.006-0.001
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.045+0.000
Mission Ready Services0.235-0.020
Decisive Dividend Corporation1.80+0.02

 



25538

FEATURED Property
21330715958 Snow Pines Crescent
5 bedrooms 4 baths
$965,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Down payment

If you have less than 20% down payment, mortgage insurance is required through Canada Mortgage & Housing (CMHC), Genworth or Canada Guaranty. Homeowners no longer need the minimum 5% down payment ...


CRA Notice of Assessment

Many Canadians rush to file their taxes on time each year and don’t think about it until the next year. One of the most overlooked notices received from the CRA annually is the annual Notice of ...


Medical confidential?

If ICBC asks your doctor for your information you may wonder: Can ICBC ask my doctor for my medical information? Can ICBC request a medical report from my doctor without my consent? What is ICBC entit...

_








Member of BC Press Council


24222