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 Presbyterian Church votes to divest holdings to sanction Israel

Most prominent US religious group voted to sell church stock in companies whose products Israel uses in Palestinian territories

The Presbyterian Church on Friday became the most prominent religious group in the US to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting to sell church stock in three companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories.

The church's General Assembly, meeting in Detroit, voted by 310-303 to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two years ago, the assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.

The American Jewish Committee, a policy and advocacy group based in New York, said the vote was "driven by hatred of Israel". But Heath Rada, moderator for the church meeting, said immediately after the vote that "in no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters”.

The decision is expected to reverberate beyond the 1.8 million-member church. It comes amid discouragement over failed peace talks that have left activists desperate for a way to effect change and as the broader movement known as BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) has gained some momentum in the US, Israel's closest and most important ally.

Presbyterians who advocated for divestment insisted their action was not part of the broader boycott movement. Israeli officials, along with many American Jewish groups, denounced the campaign as an attempt to delegitimise the Jewish state.

Separately, the assembly also voted to re-examine its support for a two-state solution.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Israeli Embassy in Washington denounced the Presbyterian Church resolution as "shameful”.

"Voting for symbolic measures marginalises and removes its ability to be a constructive partner to promote peace in the Middle East," the statement said.

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, praised the vote as a "sweet victory for human rights”. He said Presbyterian supporters of Palestinian rights have introduced divestment into the US mainstream and have given Palestinians "real hope in the face of the relentless and intensifying cruelty of Israel's regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid”.

Representatives of the Presbyterian socially responsible investment arm told the national meeting in Detroit that their efforts to lobby the three companies for change had failed.

Carol Hylkema of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian group that advocates for Palestinians and spearheaded the drive for divestment, said their action was modelled on the divestment movement to end apartheid in South Africa. The 2012 assembly had endorsed a boycott of Israeli products made in the Palestinian territories.

"Because we are a historical peacemaking church, what we have done is, we have stood up for nonviolent means of resistance to oppression and we have sent a clear message to a struggling society that we support their efforts to resist in a nonviolent way the oppression being thrust upon them," said the Reverend Jeffrey DeYoe, of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network.

Two smaller US religious groups have divested in protest of Israeli policies: the Friends Fiduciary Corp, which manages assets for US Quakers, and the Mennonite Central Committee. Last week, the pension board of the United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant group in the US, revealed plans to sell holdings worth about $110,000 in G4S, which provides security equipment and has contracts with Israel's prison system. However, the United Methodist Church had rejected church-wide divestment.

Motorola Solutions said in a statement that the company follows the law and its own policies that address human rights. Hewlett-Packard said its checkpoints for Palestinians were developed to expedite passage "in a secure environment, enabling people to get to their place of work or to carry out their business in a faster and safer way”. Caterpillar has said it does not sell equipment to Israel, just to the US government.

A church spokeswoman estimated the value of Presbyterian holdings in the companies at $21m.

 2014/6/21 13:56

Joined: 2006/9/16
Posts: 2219

 Re: Likely a coming trend

Israel will likely be on the receiving end of a humanistic and increasingly hypocritical double standard fostered and pushed on it by the world while Hamas and Hezbollah etc. are treated with kids gloves. It'll all be in God's plan as the real pressure on Israel is coming from Him but it still won't be pretty.

David Winter

 2014/6/21 17:28Profile

Joined: 2009/2/11
Posts: 179
Los Angeles, CA

 Re: Presbyterian Church votes to divest holdings to sanction Israel

To be absolutely honest, although I love the Jewish people and want nothing more than for them to come to know Jesus Christ as Messiah and for their homeland to be returned to them, I cannot agree with the methods by which they are bullying and unjustly kicking Palestinians off the land they live on and make their living from (but I am not in any way saying the problem is one sided, both Israelis and Palestinians are at fault in my opinion). Here is an excerpt from an article I read recently highlighting what I am talking about:


Title: The Christian family refusing to give up its Bethlehem hill farm

"Bishara ("Gospel") Nassar was a child when his father bought this land in 1916. Even at that time, as World War One transformed the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire limped to an end, Palestinian Christians were beginning to emigrate. After the war of 1948 the Christian exodus from the West Bank quickened, and Bishara, who was a gifted preacher and accordionist, began to travel round the nearby villages, singing songs and leading Bible study in family homes. Music and stories, he thought, might deepen the faith and lift the spirits of Bethlehem's Christian children, encouraging them to stay.

Bishara also came to believe that the Christian community had a special role to play in building a more peaceful future."

"Milada Nassar says her husband would have been proud of what his children have created. But in the years since his death in 1976, the family's commitment to non-violence has been tested in ways he could never have imagined.

At that time the West Bank had been under Israeli military rule for almost a decade, and Jewish settlers were just beginning to move into the area south of the farm. For the most part, though, the hills around Bishara's land were still open countryside, farmed by Palestinian families or used as grazing by shepherds. In the 40 years since, Israeli settlements have been built on every one."

"In 1991 their fears were confirmed. The military authorities declared that more than 90% of the farm now belonged to the State of Israel. Gush Etzion, one of the biggest settlement blocks in the West Bank, looked set to expand on to the Nassar farm.

The Nassars, though, refused to leave, or to see the land divided. And virtually alone among Palestinian farmers, they had the documents they needed to launch an appeal in the Israeli courts."

"They know very well that the Palestinians cannot afford to defend the land," says Amal Nassar, "so they give up hope and leave." But the family have somehow found the money and determination to keep their appeal alive.

When they were informed, after 10 years in the military courts, that their Palestinian lawyer was not eligible to contest the case in Israel's supreme court - because he carried West Bank identity papers - they found an Israeli firm willing to take it on. When they were told to provide a land survey, they hired (at a cost of $70,000) an Israeli surveyor, and sent him to consult maps and documents in the imperial archives of London and Istanbul. When they were asked to bring witnesses in support of their claim to have farmed the land for three generations, they hired a bus to take more than 30 Palestinian villagers to the military court near Ramallah. "We had to wait five hours outside the court under the sun," remembers Amal Nassar. "And then, after five hours, a soldier come out, they say, 'We don't want witnesses, go home.'

"Every time they see you are ready to meet their demands, they ask [for something] more and more difficult, [so] that you say 'I am fed up, I cannot.' Yes, this [is] always the process. We know it. It's a game to push us to leave."

The way Amal sees it, the Israeli military and the settlers, having failed to evict the family by legal means, are now trying to force them out. She remembers the settlers who uprooted 250 young olive trees in 2002, and who permanently closed the road to the farm with rubble. The demolition orders posted on the gate, threatening to destroy the Nassars' home and water wells. The soldiers who, in 2009, forced her 72-year-old mother out of bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night and made her wait in the cold while they searched the farm."


It's sad how anyone who seems to show the slightest disagreement with Israeli policy is marked as "anti-Israel" - My loyalty is to no man or people or country but to God and His Word which says that we are to take care of the poor and the sick and the widow and help those in need. When we blindly allow Israel to do whatever it pleases in their desire to take back all the land, and say "it belongs to them" so who cares about the people already living there, we are just as guilty of all the unjust and wicked things done by the Israeli government, which to bring up as a way of reminder is not Christian but either more traditionalist in their faith (cultural faith) or absolutely Christ hating in "orthodoxy".

Also, I am not saying that Israel should open its doors wide to the threat of Islam and those bent on the destruction of the Jewish people, but what I am absolutely against (due to my biblical, new covenant standard) is the continual expansion of Israeli settlements at the expense of the livelihood of other human beings made in the very image of our Father in heaven. God does not care more about the Jewish people getting their homeland back than the violation of human rights or other issues, but is a God of JUSTICE and IMPARTIALITY toward ALL His people, Jews and Gentiles alike. Praise be to Jesus that He completely tore down the wall of hostility that was dividing us and all presumed superiority or "extra favor" was done away with as He made us one new man in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-21).


 2014/6/21 19:54Profile


So, are you card carrying member of the Presbyterian church?

that was the point of this post.

instead, you saw fit to slam Israel, just as a massive IDF operation to rescue three teenage Jewish, Operation Brothers Keeper is ongoing. That should underline how limp, and cowardly Hamas and Hizbouallah's warfighting skills have degenerated, that they are reduced to kidnapping kids, instead of stand up battle with the IDF.

The frontline arab states all learned their lesson the hard way, and if Iran thinks its going to get nuclear, to "burn the Zionist entity", as it has threatened, is going to be in for fiery awakening.

As shown for almost 70 years of its existence, God is VERY MUCH shielding Israel against those who bay and howl for its destruction.

 2014/6/21 22:42

Joined: 2009/2/11
Posts: 179
Los Angeles, CA

 Re: tbsounde


My heart goes out to those kids and I absolutely agree with you regarding the wickedness and cowardice of jihadists like Hezbollah and Hamas which I believe should be all prosecuted with utmost severity under the court of law. But these things still do not negate or diminish the wrong things that the Israeli government has committed from their end. Yes, I absolutely agree with you that God reestablished the nation of Israel in 1948 and that He has been protecting them since then as shown through events like the six day war in 1967, but that doesn't mean in any way that He turns a blind eye when they oppress the widow and the orphan and the weak and the poor in the slightest, because He would be an unjust and partial God if He did so, which is clearly not the case, Hallelujah. I am merely trying to point out the issue with many evangelicals today who "over spiritualize" Israel and don't know what it even means nor understands the implications of the saying "support Israel" as if anything and everything done by Israel to retake their land is fair game because they are "God's chosen people" and "it is their land." If we were still under the old covenant and Christ had not come, then by all means they can absolutely wipe off all the pagan inhabitants of the land, but praise God that His mercy was extended to ALL mankind through the effectual and abundant and free grace of God in Christ Jesus and Israel no longer has such authority to do so. Even if the land was theirs, it isn't theirs for the taking until God chooses to give it fully back to them according to His way and His timing, not power hungry or ultra conservative Israeli politicians who do not trust God but rather their own traditions and strength and ability, and on top of that with absolute disregard for the livelihood of fellow human beings. Remember, not all Palestinians are terrorists. They are human beings like you and me who deserve to be treated as such and who need the gospel just as much as anyone else. The ends NEVER justify the means, that is absolutely clear from God's written Word in the old and new testament alike. Also, I am not a Presbyterian, I am a blood bought child of God, chosen by His grace before the foundation of the world, who is circumcised not by hands or the letter of the law but in the heart by the Spirit, who has Abraham as a spiritual father because I am saved by the same faith he was saved by before the law was ever given as Paul so clearly explains in Romans. The veil has been torn and Christ has broken down the dividing wall of hostility found in the law of ordinances! One new man in Christ from both Jews and Gentiles! The new covenant is an absolutely beautiful and wonderful reality indeed!


 2014/6/22 0:55Profile

Joined: 2011/6/15
Posts: 510


Great posts, tbsounde2.

 2014/7/29 16:02Profile

Joined: 2008/4/12
Posts: 1306
Hampshire, UK


Yes this is shameful of that Church. I wonder if they chrck all their other stock and which countries they are supporting? What is a church doing with stock of this value anyway.....They're just wordlings under the pretense of Christians.

why is it folk are so quick to highlight any injustice by Israel, but don't apply the same measure to other nations. I think it is spiritual and you better be careful what spirit you are being led by.


 2014/7/29 16:24Profile

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