Anti-Zionist and anti-Israel Divestment Initiatives


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Table of Contents

Main Zionism Boycotts Page

Anti Israel Academic Boycott

European Boycott Comment

Divestment Initiatives

Peace Groups Oppose Divestment

Divestment Resolution Denies Legitimacy of Jewish State

Peace and Justice, but for Whom?

Sucker Punched on Divestment

Pro-Palestinian Group To Push Divestment for AFL-CIO

Methodists Join Divestment Debate

UCC Press Release on Middle East Resolutions

UCC Middle East Economic Resolutions

UCC: Tear Down the Wall

The Truly Extremist Side of Divestment

Which side are you on?


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue


Few things, apart from the possible disintegration of the Anglican Communion arouse a firestorm of anger and conflict than how the Anglican Communion should respond to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

To divest or not to divest, that is the question.

The Episcopal Church has, over the years, taken a decidedly pro Palestinian stand with General Convention adopting a series of resolutions affirming the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own, protesting the building of the wall, expanding the settlements and destroying Palestinian homes. General Convention has endorsed a two state solution and a shared Jerusalem. These resolutions are essential to the negotiations of a two state solution and a shared Jerusalem, the church argues. "We advocate all these positions to our government," says the church.

But how this should be done is another matter entirely. The Episcopal Church along with the Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ have all urged consideration of divestment, at a very minimum economic pressure urging Israel to be more accommodating to the Palestinians, many of whom are Christians.

Some Jewish groups accuse the churches of singling out Israel for blame and failing to address the Palestinians' role in perpetuating the violence. Several have even said they see anti-Semitism behind the churches' moves. Are we for the Palestinians and against Israel; or for Israel and against Palestine? Are we for disinvestment or against it? The issues are complex and grow more complex even as Israel moves out of Gaza.

Behind disinvestment is the notion that peace, love and brotherhood will ultimately reign in the Middle East if Israel is appropriately punished. Many American Jews and not a few Israelis believe it is a not so subtle form of anti-Semitism and a desire to bring Israel to its knees.

At the center of the Anglican controversy over divestment is the Anglican Peace and Justice Network a leftist organization whose most recent statement on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict includes such choice words as these: "We conclude from our experience that there is little will on behalf of the Israeli government to recognize the rights of the Palestinians to a sovereign state to be created in the West Bank - which includes East Jerusalem - and Gaza. Israel, with the complicity of the United States, seems determined to flaunt international laws, whether they are the Geneva Conventions, United Nations resolutions or the most recent decision of the International Court of Justice in declaring the separation wall illegal. In fact, we note that this latter decision is based on building the wall on Palestinian territory, which once again demonstrates the illegality of the Occupation itself."

There would appear to be little objectivity with regard to Israel's right to self-protection from self-immolating bombers and security within their borders. The APJN headlined its statement: "Give Sight to the Blind and Freedom to the Captives" but for whom?

It might be argued that both groups are spiritually blind, both have very little freedom within their geographical confines and both are held captive to each other.

While the APJN says it represents 23 Provinces of the worldwide 75,000,000 member Anglican Communion, it should not be assumed that the APJN speaks for all Anglicans.

The Anglican Communion does have a decidedly strong Anglican presence in the Middle East through its leader Archbishop Riah (Jerusalem) a formidable advocate for Palestinian rights and much more. When the Anglican Consultative Council met in Nottingham recently and the ACC voted to 'commend' divestment from companies supporting Israel's polices, based on a report on Israel by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network, Archbishop Riah made it very clear to me that unless the West Bank situation is resolved it will be back to the drawing boards and the suicide killings will start up again.

However not all Anglicans agree with him. The Rev. Tony Higton and his church in the Old City of Jerusalem have gone out of their way to repudiate much of the APJN's claims.

Following a visit to Israel and a particularly sharply-worded condemnation of Israel by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) that excoriated the government for "the draconian conditions of the continuing occupation under which so many Palestinians live," Higton's Israel Trust of the Anglican Church (ITAC) issued its own statement repudiating the APJN as "biased and unjust."

"How can the visitors on the APJN commission... hope to be taken seriously," the ITAC statement asked, "when they spend a mere eight days in the country, without proper consultation on the Israeli side, then produce a statement, implying they understand the complexities of the conflict, and making pronouncements about it?"

"The APJN statement loses credibility because it contains very inadequate references to terrorism and its effects, and no reference to the need of the Israelis to defend themselves," ITAC continued.

He also went on to say that the church should recognize that the Palestinians experience economic disaster and lack of infrastructure, partly through corruption, injustice and oppression on the part of some of their own leaders.

The ITAC statement concluded that "much of the church is predisposed, on the basis of inadequate information, to accept anti-Israel statements."

Higton, who has lived in Jerusalem with his wife since 2002, told The Jerusalem Post from London that the Anglican Church "needs to be praying for people on both sides, rather than start ladling out condemnation. We need to be more Christian about it."

IN the US a number of Episcopal bishops have criticized the Anglican call for divestment from Israel including Tom Shaw, Bishop of Massachusetts, Ed Little, Bishop of Northern Indiana, Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island, (the latter two have Jewish ancestry) and Mark Sisk the Episcopal bishop of New York who criticized the Anglican Church recently for its divestment proposal. The national Episcopal Church headquarters later put out wrist slapping statement saying that it still supported the divestment call.

But the recent Anglican Consultative Council 2005 Resolution, Peace and Justice Network on Palestine - Israel Conflict put out in Nottingham produced the greatest outrage from across the Anglican Communion prompting the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon to issue a clarifying statement.

He wrote: "There has been much comment, and not a little misunderstanding, about what the resolution said about investments. It did not call for dis-investment in Israel. Instead, it commended the Episcopal Church (USA) for resolving to take appropriate action 'where it finds that its corporate investments support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis' and encourages others to do likewise within the framework of their ethical investment strategies. It further 'encouraged strategies that support the infrastructure of a future Palestinian State', which I understand is Israeli government policy also."

"Jewish-Christian relations, especially within Britain, are much valued by Anglicans, who have always been to the forefront of these dialogues, both national and local. At their best, they are characterized by a willingness to listen to each other and to engage with the context of each. No doubt the ongoing violence, death and destruction from which both Israelis and Palestinians suffer, has been discussed on many occasions, as a shared understanding of the complexities of the situation emerges."

Melanie Phillips a British journalist and author who writes on political and social issues for the Daily Mail ripped the ACC on the divestment controversy calling their statement "a truly egregious conflation of sanctimoniousness, disingenuousness and sheer moral humbug."

She blasted the ACC saying that the ACC's message to Jews is clear: "we value you enormously, just as long as you don't support Israel. If you do support it, we'll treat you as a pariah. In other words, Jews are in one box, Israel is in another. This is to deny Jewish peoplehood. It is also to deny the anti-Jewish nature of its singling out of the Jewish state for pariah status."

"It is too soon to forget what centuries of what is called the "teaching of contempt" towards Jews did to the Christian soul of Europe. It is a religious obligation - or to put it another way, it is what God wants - that Christians should try to undo the consequences of that dark tradition. That means denouncing anything that seems to call in question Israel's right to exist."

In an effort to defuse the anger, Kearon defended the Anglican Peace and Justice Network's (APJN) report from Jerusalem against charges that it offered a biased and dishonest account of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He also criticized Jewish leaders in the United Kingdom as ill informed and aggressive in their criticism of the work done by the APJN.

"I have been saddened by much of the response to the debate and resolution on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict" at ACC-13 in Nottingham, he wrote, "especially among Jewish representatives in Britain. The tone of these responses does little to acknowledge the responsible nature of the debate."

That did not placate Professor Irene Lancaster of the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester who disagrees strongly with Canon Kearon. She blasted the APJN report saying, "I am an expert on Christian-Jewish relations over the last 2000 years. I have no hesitation in placing the APJN report firmly within the category of religious anti-Judaism and more modern forms of anti-Semitism. Apart from lies about Jewish history, the idea that Jews living in the 'Holy Land' defile the name of Jesus is particularly offensive to Jews. In addition, the citation of Jewish scripture against Jews is a classic usage in age-old Christian anti-Semitism."

She ripped the 'anti-Semitism' of the report saying the whole tone of it was extremely hostile to both Israel as a Jewish sovereign state and to Jews generally. "The country was compared to Buchenwald concentration camp and Jesus' Jewish antecedents were ignored or overlooked. It is ludicrous to suggest that the meeting of the APJN in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, at Jewish New Year was not held deliberately at that time, to prevent Jewish dialog with the group. It is also not irrelevant that Jenny Te Paa (NZ) complained about the very strong statements made against the report by the Chief Rabbi of the UK and also by our umbrella lay leadership organization, the Board of Deputies, which worked in conjunction with myself. She called this 'lobbying'. What is wrong with that, I wonder?" She also said that the APJN can't possibly have met representative Jews as the delegation visited Israel during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

But one voice of reason and moderation that has arisen in recent days is that of AMIA Bishop John Rodgers who, on reflecting on the APJN situation wrote, "while it is good to hear recommendations from idealistic "peace" societies such as the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) it is never wise to endorse them or to expect from them a wise, practical, balanced solution to international violence. And the latest recommendations about disinvestiture from Israel proposed by them and disappointingly endorsed by the rather liberal ACC, lives up to our worst expectations. Their fact finding trip to Israel, which did not consult with any high ranking officials of the State of Israel but did consult with Palestinian sources, indicates that they had their agenda and recommendations in mind before they came. This was entirely predictable."

"No one should write Israel a blank check, or the Palestinians either. Nor can we write Islamic believers a blank check because they are "religious". Rather as we try to think things through, let justice and mercy be even handed as applied to all parties as best as we are able. However the use of terrorism can never be condoned. It is an entirely unacceptable method of redressing injustice. It is time we say so with no ambiguity."

"Israel has continually said that as terror is held in check and stopped negotiations could and would go forward. They have, time and again, held back in the hopes that the terrorism would diminish and stop. There seems to be some advance at the present, if Hamas and others do not destroy the present opportunity. What a foolish time to suggest disinvestiture from Israel. This is a time to encourage both sides, but by all means to be strong in our condemnation of terrorism. It is also time for the Palestinians and all Muslims everywhere to repudiate it as unacceptable. Had they done so earlier there would be far more justice and economic opportunity for both Israel and the Palestinians than now exists."


Progressive Jewish Perspectives on Divestment from Israel: Updated April 17, 2005
by Chicago Peace Now President Gidon D. Remba
Remarks to the Chicago Presbytery Assembly on
Divestment and Palestinian-Israeli Peace

Gidon D. Remba, April 12, 2005

Americans for Peace Now Statement on Divestment

Americans for Peace Now strongly opposes one sided actions and statements, including divestment, that appear to solely blame Israel for the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. These types of initiatives are morally and historically inappropriate and destructive to reconciliation between the Jewish state of Israel and Palestinian statehood. The process of providing Israel with security and the Palestinians with self-determination should be the primary focus of all those who are concerned about the conflict.


Rabbis for Human Rights
Bad Waters: An Open Letter From Rabbis For Human Rights to the Presbyterian Church USA

Rabbis for Human Rights is the rabbinic voice of conscience in Israel, giving voice to the Jewish tradition of human rights. It promotes justice and freedom, while campaigning against discrimination and inhumane conduct.

Meretz USA Condemns Divestment
Letter protests action of General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (USA) to consider disinvestment from companies doing business with Israel

Meretz USA: for Israeli Civil Rights and Peace works to support full and genuine peace between the State of Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East, including the Palestinian people. The agency supports full civil and human rights for all who live in the State of Israel, as well as the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, regardless of in whose political authority they dwell. The Meretz-Yahad Party in Israel is headed by Yossi Beilin, the lead negotiator on the Israeli side for the Geneva Initiative, the unofficial model peace treaty drafted by a group of leading Palestinians and Israelis.

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, The Shefa Fund
Divestment from Israel: Is It An Effective Strategy?
The Shefa fund is a "significant funder of Israeli peace organizations."

Brit Tzedek V'Shalom/The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace Statement on Divestment

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom believes that American Jews have an important role to play in influencing U.S. foreign policy with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our work is to mobilize our community in support of a negotiated two-state solution, because we believe that the support of American Jews is essential for movement towards a just peace. Divestment campaigns from corporations doing business with Israel alienate many Jews and divert focus and energy from the shared goals of the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom believes that there are many ways to support the Palestinian people that contribute positively to the goal of a negotiated solution to the conflict. We support investment in economic support and development projects that have the potential to bring people together rather than driving them apart. Donating to organizations that invest in Palestinian businesses, loan money to development banks involved in micro-lending, help rebuild the infrastructure of the West Bank, invest in promoting dialogue and understanding or provide humanitarian relief for victims of violence are a few examples of how individuals, corporations, organizations and the United States government can support the Palestinian people and activists for a just peace.

Labor Zionist Alliance Opposes Divestment

The Labor Zionist Alliance works for peace, economic justice and pluralism in Israel and America through a variety of programs and activities and is affiliated with the Labor Party in Israel.

Statement Against Divestment from a Group of Progressive Jews in Somerville Mass

Let's Work Together for Middle East Peace, Somerville Journal


Additional Jewish Perspectives on Divestment

Joint Statement to Protestant Churches on Potential Economic Sanctions against Israel from Five Major Jewish Organizations:
The American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

United Jewish Communities Opposes Presbyterian Church USA Moves on Divestment: Resolution Unanimously Passes

Presbyterians Against Israel Chicago Jewish News, January 28, 2005

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