News / USA

US Presbyterian Church to Divest from Israeli-Linked Investments

A construction site is seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Givat Zeev, near Jerusalem.
A construction site is seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Givat Zeev, near Jerusalem.
Mike Eckel
The U.S. Presbyterian Church has voted to divest its financial holdings from three American companies doing business in parts of Israel considered by Palestinians to be occupied territory.

The governing General Assembly voted Friday 310-303 to remove holdings in Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard and Motorola from the church’s portfolio of investments, according to a statement posted on its Web site.

Though largely symbolic, the decision comes amid building pressure on other churches, companies, organizations, universities and others by the “Boycott, Divest and Sanctions” movement, known as BDS.

The statement said the Assembly members included a preface to its resolution saying the church was committed “to peace in Israel and Palestine."

“We recognize the complexity of the issues, the decades-long struggle, the pain suffered and inflicted by policies and practices of both the Israeli government and Palestinian entities. We further acknowledge and confess our own complicity in both the historic and current suffering of Israeli and Palestinian yearning for justice and reconciliation,” the resolution stated.

The resolution explicitly noted that the vote “does not mean an alignment with the overall strategy of the global BDS movement.”

That movement, started by Palestinian groups almost a decade ago, seeks to put financial pressure on Israel to reach accommodation with Palestinians on the status of refugees, territories in the West Bank and a comprehensive peace deal.

The church, which reportedly holds about $21 million in investments in the three companies, held a similar vote two years ago that failed. In addition to supporters of the divestment, this year’s vote had attracted intense lobbying from Jewish groups.

Israel's reaction

In a statement posted Friday night on its Facebook page, the Israeli Embassy in Washington called the resolution "shameful."

"Voting for symbolic measures marginalizes and removes its ability to be a constructive partner to promote peace in the Middle East," the statement said. “We would have hoped that (the Presbyterian church) would have joined us in promoting peace and denouncing terrorism."

The companies targeted have contracts to sell earth-moving equipment, surveillance technology and other goods that activists say are used by Israel to build settlements and violate rights of Palestinians.  
 
The Presbyterians, which have around 1.8 million members in the United States, are not the first American church to have divested from investments connected to Israel. But it is the most prominent U.S. religious group to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

The Mennonite church and the Quakers had taken similar steps in recent years, according to The Associated Press, and last week a panel of the United Methodist Church said it had sold holdings in a company that has contracts with Israel’s prison system.

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by: Dwight from: Ray
June 24, 2014 6:45 PM
This does not go far enough. Until California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are returned to Mexico, members of the PCUSA should leave those states... immediately!

by: David Gill from: St. Louis, MO
June 24, 2014 9:44 AM
Perhaps your writer should say in the article that this is the PCUSA denomination, not all of the Presbyterian denominations in the United States. This article is generic to the point of unhelpful in this important fact.

by: Lumumba from: White House
June 23, 2014 5:34 AM
presbyterian church this sect not the church.

by: Steve Grumman from: Arizona
June 22, 2014 8:16 PM
It clearly appears that the Netanyahu regime is using the kidnap as an excuse to drive a wedge between Hamas and the PLO, now that they have formed a unity government for Palestine.
Given the cycle of violence between Palestine and Israel that goes on and on, these death I will signal further responses from the Palestinians, which will lead to further acts of retribution from the Israeli occupation army.

by: Alphonse Capone
June 22, 2014 7:49 AM
Finally someone is standing up to the arrogant Israelis. I completely disagree that it is without meaning. It shows a shift in how we view them, which may slowly ripple through other areas and then become a prevailing view. Also, economic threats are very powerful. Taking money from someone hurts them. I completely agree and am sick of their guilting us into believing in their cause. Their cause was to create piece, that is why they were created, and they have failed. Time for force them to get back to the mission.

by: susie bonis from: Florida
June 22, 2014 7:01 AM
I think we should divest the pres. church from their tax exempt status immediately! How dare they?

by: Pasquinel.Canada
June 22, 2014 3:01 AM
Just another God forsaking denomination. No surprise here. Enjoy your reaping. True Christ followers have already left from among your midst and you wonder why you are dwindling? Focus on reading the bible instead of compromising with Satan. Gods word still condemns homosexuality and that will not change. God is real, satan 9s real...CHOOSE.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 21, 2014 10:19 PM
Israelis are in a mad panic right now, screaming, rioting, buying up all the water and canned goods, running for shelters..........what?..........oh.........they aren't.........what do you mean?.............the Israelis are asking "what is a Presbyterian church?" OK, Jews, we get it! But you don't have to class all goyim into this group of bible-thumping self-righteous Christians. Give us a break! I'm sure the only impact this so called "caring about people" gesture (or, jest-ure, it is funny) means that some poor Israeli boy won't get the top-of-the-line dreidel for Hanukkah. 8 crazy nights....and you guys rip on Santa? Well, you guys did invent Rudolf.
See it for what it is, all of you. The PCUSA is losing so many members, that it's offering plates are getting the lettuce it used to get. So they have to cut back, capice? So why not make headlines with this retarded idea? Because the media loves people like you, people who love to jump to conclusions and insult the Jews, and the Jews insult the Christians (Hiltler reference.....REALLY?). So all of you guys want to ride the fun and wacky train of media hype, have fun, I didn't buy a ticket. The Israelis should have sent the PCUSA a thank you card "Thank you PCUSA, since you have divested from our investments, we no longer feel we are covered in pig's blood! XOXOXOX" Oh come on, you've got to have a since of humor peeps! Tell you what, "PCUSA", how about you let the world know what your church is investing in, since you had to go public and garner the world's attention for your anti-Israel actions. And "Enubus from USA", not smart to wish bad tiding upon anyone at aytime. And don't invoke Ezekiel's good name just because you arre frustrated with the goyim, K? Good grief, the guy is up there chilling, been on vacation for what, more than 2,000 years? I think he has made it clear that his prophecies are in no hurry, and neither should you. If self-righteous Christians annoy you, then imagine how self-righteous Jews are? And I didn't say anything about your big noses either! We can all live and love each other bro. After all, holocaust survivors gave birth to the greatest band ever, Rush! Greastest! EVER!!! schmuck

by: Bill H from: West Orange, NJ
June 21, 2014 8:48 PM
For rank and file Presbyterians, the substantial minority of whom, and perhaps the majority, are against this action, the question is what can be done in response. One action to be taken by them and others is to purposely invest in the three barred companies - Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar, and HP.

In furtherance of that approach, I have invested $5,000 in Motorola as a gesture that if replicated widely would negate the symbolic value of the church's actions.

Please visit my rinky dink site undivest.com if you wish to do the same. For me, it's just a gesture that makes it possible for me to attend Presbyterian services in the future.

by: boom from: los angeles
June 21, 2014 7:05 PM
" in parts of Israel considered by Palestinians to be occupied territory." oh VOA how thinly veiled your political bent is....considered occupied by not only the Palestinians but by much of the world
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