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  • Monday, December 06, 2004


    Divestment and Israel

    There are all sorts of considerations when it comes to Israel and the Occupied terroritory. As defenders of Israel are quick to say, it is the only democracy in the middle east. Some defenders are also quick to equate any questioning of Israel's actions in the Occupied terrortories with anti-Semiticism. It's a complex situation. As an ethically targeted tactic, divestment seems like a possible way of expressing a protest against Israel's actions in this situation. Last I heard, during the current (last several years) uprising, there are 4 Palestinian dead to every 1 Israeli killed. From Flashpoint Israel:
    The Presbyterians' decision to consider divesting such businesses from its $8 billion portfolio, coupled with the prospect that the Episcopal Church and other churches might do the same, is adding to tensions that have risen over recent years between mainline Protestant churches and the American Jewish community over their differing views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Mainline churches have supported Israel since 1948 and reject terrorism; they also have longstanding ties to churches in the Holy Land and are critical of Israeli military practices in the territories. Illegal expansion of Israeli settlements and a new security wall that encroaches on Palestinian land are making a viable Palestinian state less feasible, Presbyterians and others say. With the U.S. government taking little action to help matters, they add, unusual measures are required.

    "The decision to initiate a process of phased, selective divestment ... was not taken lightly," the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, a Presbyterian leader, wrote to members of the U.S. Congress. "It was born out of the frustration that many of our members, as well as members of other denominations, feel with the current policies of Israel and those of our own government."

    The Presbyterians say their aims are to influence the practices of companies and use their resources — an $8 billion portfolio — in morally responsible ways. "We have to be principled; we respect human rights and the legitimacy of international law, and when Israelis or Palestinians breech either we'll take a hard look at our investments," says the Rev. Marthame Sanders, who was in ministry in the West Bank.

    The church's committee on socially responsible investment will identify firms that provide services or equipment to support the military occupation or Jewish settlements; finance or assist in building the wall; or provide help to Israeli or Palestinian groups that commit violence against innocent civilians.

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