There are a lot of issues around the Arab/Israeli conflict that I find utterly infuriating and perhaps none more so than the issue of divestment. I've come to expect anti-Israel bias from the U.N., the media and even academia, but when the Presbyterian Church announced its intention to disinvest from Israel, I was beyond outraged. I should say, from the outset, I'm aware that this in no way reflects a majority opinion among American Protestants, but the fact that a major religious organization has seen fit to single out Israel as the aggressor, even after four years during which Palestinian terrorists were turning the country into a slaughterhouse, is just stunning. But, now comes word that the Presbyterian Church may be finding it a bit more difficult to defend the indefensible. Perhaps it's because Israel's economy has become more robust and disinvestment could prove costly, or maybe it's because Sharon carried out the disengagement from Gaza...or maybe it was because somebody finally realized that the whole idea stinks to high heavens.
Church Divestment Campaign Loses Steam
Israel National News
October 14, 2005
"The campaign to convince Protestant churches to divest from companies that make products Israel uses in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is slowing down, according to Reuters News Agency.
The anti-Israel divestment campaign threatens billions of dollars of investments in Israel by international companies. It gathered steam after the Presbyerian Church of the United States voted last year to begin slimming down its $8 billion portfolio in companies with investments in Israel.
One of the prime targets has been Caterpillar Inc., which sells heavy equipment to Israel's defense establishment. Other targets are Citigroup, United Technologies, Motorola, and ITT Industries.
"No church in the United States except the Presbyterians has voted for divestment," Reuters quoted David Elcott, an officer for the American Jewish Committee. He said the campaign was moving forward in the media more than it is in reality.
Both the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the United Church of Christ have rejected the divestment proposal.
The Presbyterian Church has not yet carried out its decision to get rid of investments in targeted companies, and a church spokesman told Reuters that "we're not in a hurry." He explained that divestment only is a last resort, depending on whether Israel carries out further expulsions of Jewish residents from Judea and Samaria.
Rev.William Harter, one of the leaders against the divestment campaign, was quoted as saying that there is growing pressure to rescind last year's disinvestment vote."
Frankly, I'm not sure we can take much comfort in the fact that "divestment only is a last resort" because the message alone this sort of campaign sends is fueling the isolation of Israel by subjecting it to the same sort of opprobrium that was heretofore reserved for countries like South Africa. But, worst of all, it absolves the real aggressors, those murderous and corrupt Palestinian leaders, of any blame for years of bloodshed.