Monday, October 17, 2005

Re-thinking Divestment

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.

6 Comments:

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Gindy said...

"but when the Presbyterian Church announced its intention to disinvest from Israel, I was beyond outraged."

I was disgusted. It shows more about the minds of the divesters than anything. Out of the whole wolrd they have chosen to targeting of one single tinyethnic group.

"Both the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the United Church of Christ have rejected the divestment proposal."

For now. Just the fact that they were considering it pretty much makes me sick.

 
At 2:29 PM, Blogger Rory said...

Gindy,
I agree with you. I think the whole thing is an obscenity and a stain on the Presbyterian Church. In fact, they can attempt to portray it as an Israeli/Palestinian issue, but when it's only Israel being singled out for sanctions, it's really nothing more than rank anti-Semitism.

 
At 9:49 PM, Blogger Esther said...

He explained that divestment only is a last resort, depending on whether Israel carries out further expulsions of Jewish residents from Judea and Samaria.

What a morally bankrupt statement that is. So if Jews throw more Jews out of their homes and make the land Juderien... well then we'll think about not removing our money. Vile. Great post, Rory!

 
At 11:45 PM, Blogger Rory said...

Esther,
Thanks. I had the same reaction you and Gindy did, which is why I wanted to discuss this whole issue of disinvestment and why it's so malignant. I suspect that whatever feelings some of us might have toward the Palestinians, we probably recognize that many of them have been victimized and brainwashed by their own people. These pro-disinvestment churches, on the other hand, have made a conscious decision to single out and punish only Israel...and we know what that's called.

 
At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Bozwell said...

"when it's only Israel being singled out for sanctions, it's really nothing more than rank anti-Semitism."

I can't add much more to this than that. What an absolute outrage. As Esther says, a great post!

 
At 10:41 AM, Blogger Rory said...

Bozwell,
Thank you. I think there are a lot of us who are frustrated by so much of what we see where Israel is concerned. I've always known, for instance, that the World Council of Churches, which has a decidedly left-wing orientation, was biased in favor of the Palestinians, but to find out that some denominations were willing to go so far as to punish Israel financially just made me furious. And it would have been bad enough at any time, but after what the Israelis had endured at the hands of Palestinian suicide bombers, the disinvestment campaign was even more unconscionable.

 

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