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: Gregg from: Colorado
June 21, 2014 6:38 PM
Israel's arrogance will be their demise.

by: Angela from: USA
June 21, 2014 6:25 PM
those company shares were eagerly bought by American Evangelical Churches, Chinese Companies, and Russian Corporations... hey money is money... and if the Presbytery is stupid - we all benefit..!!!

thank God for Presbyterian idiocy

by: Jim Colegrove from: Santa Maria, CA
June 21, 2014 5:43 PM
I am proud to respond, as a lifelong Presbyterian, that our, and many other congregations, have divested ourselves of our association with the ever liberal-leaning-sectarian Presbyterian Church USA. This decision was reached, in a democratic process by an overwhelming majority of us, because of the growing division between us and our Christian brothers and sisters in the PC-USA who are growing ever more focused on ignoring the ancient tenants of our faith, judging others - like Israel, and being "all-inclusive" in a society that needs to stand up for its beliefs - as the Israelis have demonstrated and done since 1948.

by: No Surprises from: USA
June 21, 2014 5:38 PM
Not surprised at all, the bible itself which christians and catholics claim to believe (which they label the "old testament") clearly indicates in Nevi'im (the books of the prophets) in THE TESTAMENT (yes there's only one, and its eternal) that all the earth (christianity and islam) would eventually come against the Jewish people and G-D's eternal truth. All the actions of the church simply reveals its true self just as it has throughout history. No matter the denomination, methodist, protestants, or whatever, they're all a concealment of G-D and truth.

by: Sally Wells from: Los Angeles, CA
June 21, 2014 5:32 PM
I doubt Israel could give to dried figs what a group of spoiled American Christians do or think.

by: Billy Ray from: USA
June 21, 2014 5:14 PM
I see the Presbyterians agree with Hitler in that is all the fault of the JOOOOS

by: William Stanford from: usa
June 21, 2014 4:35 PM
The p church hase already turned into Sodom & gommorah. Now," start with my fathers people, and your troubles have just started. and that's a fact.

by: enubus from: USA
June 21, 2014 4:23 PM
Shameful is not adequate, more like despicable! The so-called Palestinians have no claim to anything unless the Israelis give it to them. As we can see the Oslo Accords were a debacle, by short sighted morons as in Peres and Rabin. If this church of leftist fools want to recognize terrorists so be it. God will pay them back in spades. I can't wait for Ezekiel.' s prophecies to manifest.

by: Rob from: California
June 21, 2014 4:10 PM
It isn't that the Palestinian's think it is occupied territories, the world knows this. To state "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." is to infer that it is only a consideration. Also, how about the way Christians are treated in the region as well? Does that matter or is it only the human rights of Jews that we should care about?

by: Steve from: Berkeley California
June 21, 2014 3:26 PM
sickening that the Presbyterians have to point their fingers abroad. What about all the US arms companies bringing mayhem and murder across the world? Such hypocrites have been her forever many masquerading as holier than thou. There is a need for real soul searching by the Churches to condemn violence and those who prepared the tools of violence. for shame to ignore what is right under their noses.
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