Friday, October 31st8.5°C
21625
23004

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 TSX14575.86+117.17
S&P CDNX760.85-10.80
DJIA17340.69145.27
Nasdaq4626.803+60.665
S&P 5002012.45+17.80
CDN Dollar0.8857-0.0077
Gold1165.70-32.90
Oil79.49-1.41
Lumber325.70+2.10
Natural Gas3.715+0.066

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.12+0.01
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.13-0.02
Cantex0.045-0.015
Anavex Life Sciences0.1711-0.0089
Metalex Ventures0.03-0.005
Russel Metals32.59+0.37
Copper Mountain Mining2.03+0.06
Colorado Resources0.14+0.005
ReliaBrand Inc0.012-0.004
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.05+0.025
Mission Ready Services0.375+0.005

 





FEATURED Property
1403255726 Renshaw Rd.
4 bedrooms 3 baths
$429,900
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Empty nesting: financial issues

Now that the children have ‘left the nest’, it is a good time to step back and take stock of your financial situation. Being on your own will probably cut household costs to some extent, b...


Keep your haunted home safe

Eerie sounds, spooky lights and Jack-o’-lanterns aglow—extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. However, to keep the fun going, it’s imp...


What I learned in China

Photo: ContributedI will never be an expert on China. It is just too big, too complex and too old with layers of history and meaning that would take several lifetimes to unravel. As I said to my hosts...

_








Member of BC Press Council


22707