Opting out of Divestment?

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Main Zionism Boycotts Page  The boycotts and the Nazis  The Anti Israel Academic Boycott  Divestment Initiatives


These two reports may be harbingers of the beginning of sanity on Church activism in politics - since both of them seem to be opting for positive actions that support peace, rather than divestment. However, the Episcopal SRI report indicates that the Episcopal Church, while it may love the Jews, doesn't believe the Jews have a right to self determination. The "Israeli People" may have a right to self-determination according to the Episcopal Social Responsibility in Investments committee, but the committee upholds the Palestinian "Right of Return," which would allow Palestinian refugees to swamp Israel with millions of non-Jews and end the existence of Israel as a Jewish national home. See SRI - Episcopal Church Report on Israel and Palestine for details.

Tell us what you think at the forum discussion about these anti-divestment initiatives

Searching for hope in Israel

By Geoffrey H. Lewis and Theodore W. Asta  | 
October 11, 2005


WE TRAVELED to Israel together, Christian and Jew, to explore a land of history, faith, and conflict. We were part of a group of 28 mainline Protestant and Jewish leaders from around the country. Although our respective communities have worked together on a variety of issues over the years, what prompted this trip was an issue that caused friction between us -- divestment. In the past year, a number of mainline Protestant churches have considered or supported divestment from certain companies doing business in Israel. This action pains many in the Jewish community.

We went to Israel seeking to heal misunderstandings that separated us so that we could continue to work together in

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?

SRI - Episcopal Church Report on Israel and Palestine

Reports recommend corporate engagement, positive investment


 the future. We learned much there. Perhaps the most important lesson was that divestment would not be helpful. Rather, investment in the land and the people could make a difference, investment in programs that promote justice, in programs that seek peace and reconciliation, in organizations that we believe will provide a better future for the next generations.

Divestment is not an effective strategy to promote peace. Rather, it is a strategy that denies the complexities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and seeks to punish Israel, rather than engage in a constructive solution. As we heard from people on both sides, particularly from those identified with the peace camps on both sides, divestment takes one ''out of the game" and serves only to alienate the pro-divestment community from the many who genuinely seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. And we found many Israelis and Palestinians -- Jews, Christians, and Muslims -- who yearn for peace.

The timing for the divestment movement also seems ill-advised. We perceived that a material change may be taking place in that part of the world. The disengagement of Israeli settlers from Gaza is significant, as are the Jan. 25 elections in the Palestinian territories. It is the hope of those with whom we met that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be provided the support he needs to enable him to continue to lead the Palestinian people. There is also the specter of Israeli elections, and those too will be of enormous importance. The actions on the ground make divestment appear gratuitous and ill-conceived.

We also concluded that continuing to debate the use of economic sanctions against Israel is divisive and distracting. Those who care about peace in the region support organizations that are working toward coexistence and reconciliation between Arabs and Jews within Israel as well as Palestinians and Israelis. Many people and organizations need our support as they lay the critical groundwork for peace by building bridges between divided peoples.

We shared other lessons as well. Fortunately, we found that we can indeed discuss those issues that separate us in a thoughtful and constructive manner.

Most insightful was an encounter we had with a leading Palestinian pollster, Khalil Shikaki. His polls demonstrate that there is hope and optimism on both sides. They demonstrate that the majority of the Israeli and Palestinian people seek and will pursue peace and justice. Unfortunately, his polls also indicate that neither side is convinced of the other's desire for peace, a fact that underscores the importance of programs designed to promote coexistence and better understanding.

We heard, repeatedly, from both sides, of the importance of US engagement in the peace process. US engagement would serve not only Israeli and Palestinian interests but our own interests as well. We also heard the urgency of this plea for help. Building on the disengagement will be critical. Hope abounds. However, it could dissipate quickly.

We began a conversation in Israel that will continue at home, a conversation that will bring greater understanding between our respective faith traditions. And we trust we learned much about each other and about how to work together to bring peace to a region we care about so deeply.

Investment in the region is where our focus should be. To invest is to express hope, and we, Jews and Christians, are indeed people of hope.

Geoffrey H. Lewis, a Boston lawyer, is a vice-chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The Rev. Theodore W. Asta is associate to the bishop in the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. © Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company

  Source - http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/10/11/searching_for_hopein_israel/

Israel/Palestine: Report recommends corporate engagement, positive investment

By Matthew Davies
ENS 100305-2
Monday, October 03, 2005
[Episcopal News Service] The Social Responsibility in Investments (SRI) committee issued a report to the Executive Council October 3, recommending "corporate engagement" and "positive investment" practices when dealing with companies in which the Episcopal Church owns assets and shares.

The report follows a year's deliberations during which the SRI committee engaged in research and study, dialogue with many groups and individuals, visited Israel and the Palestinian territories, and observed actions from other churches and denominations dealing with similar issues.

The committee's responsibility, as noted in its report, was "not to create new policy," but to make recommendations that "advance the existing social policies of the [Episcopal] Church on Israel and Palestine," its main purpose being to promote peace and justice.

"[The report] was very carefully thought through and represents a consensus from a group that began with extremely diverse opinions on the issues," said Kim Byham, Executive Council's liaison to the SRI committee. "It also reflects the results of our studies of the issues, including our inspection visit, and numerous meetings with representatives of all points of view."

Executive Council, the elected body which oversees the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church, will consider and discuss the report during its October 7-10 meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Corporate engagement

Through "corporate engagement," the Episcopal Church would encourage companies in which it has investments to adopt socially responsible practices that advance "positive changes in Israeli government policy" that would end the occupation, "as well as urging the Palestinian Authority to oppose violence as a means of resistance."

Furthermore, the report recommends investments that would "provide support for the development of a future Palestinian state," and also urges the Episcopal Church to "engage in dialogue or file shareholder resolutions with companies in which it owns shares."

Positive investment

With "positive investment," the Episcopal Church would join with other religious organizations, denominations and institutions in investing in the economic infrastructure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as "a stable Palestinian state will make for a more secure Israel," the report says.

In particular, the report recommends that the council "seeks opportunities, with others, for making loans to loan funds in the Palestinian Territories and elsewhere that support economic justice and development in support of a future Palestinian State."

The committee noted that it was not recommending divestment because "the goal is for selected companies to change behavior resulting in a more hopeful climate for peace. If the church simply divests, nothing positive has happened."

The Rev. Brian Grieves, director of Peace and Justice Ministries and SRI committee member, emphasized that the report represents the committee's recommendations to council and not the position of the church.

"The committee has worked diligently and thoughtfully these past several months," he said, "and has struggled hard to hear and respond to varying views, while being mindful of the church's policy positions on the conflict."

One year ago, the council charged the SRI committee with investigating what corporate actions "might be appropriate with (1) companies that contribute to the infrastructure of Israel's ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and (2) companies that have connections to organizations responsible for violence against Israel."

As part of its study, a delegation from SRI and the Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns (AIPJC) visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories April 29-May 6.

The group met with Israeli and Palestinian peace groups, representatives of the Palestinian Authority, residents of an Israeli settlement, staff of the Episcopal hospital in Gaza, and representatives of a leading pro-Israeli government Jewish organization, as well as members of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem.

"In addition, the committee has been in contact with all the companies in our portfolio," Byham said. "This is an ongoing process and a list of companies with which to engage further has not yet been developed."

Byham explained that a number of options were examined when considering how General Convention and Executive Council resolutions could best be implemented with respect to socially responsible investment.

"We decided that the means most likely to achieve the aims set forth by the church would be to engage corporations in which we own stock concerning their activities in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands or in supporting terrorism in Israel itself," he said. "We want to discourage such companies from being complicit in illegal or immoral activities associated with such occupation or terrorism."

During its June 2005 meeting in Nottingham, England, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Communion's most representative decision-making body, commended the Episcopal Church's resolve "to take appropriate action where it finds that its corporate investments support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis," and encouraged "investment strategies that support the infrastructure of a future Palestinian State."

The SRI committee has agreed "to continue research on and dialogue with other church groups, Jewish organizations, and Israeli and Palestinian organizations to build bridges of understanding and a common witness for a just peace in the Holy Land."

Full text of the SRI committee's report to Executive Council is available online at:
SRI - Episcopal Church Report on Israel and Palestine


[Editor's Note: The Executive Council is composed of the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, 20 members elected by General Convention (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 laypersons) and 18 members elected by provincial synods. Officers with seat and voice include the vice president, the treasurer and the secretary of the Domestic and Foreign Mission Society.
        In the course of the three years between meetings of General Convention, known as the "triennium," the Executive Council will customarily meet once in each of the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church.
        The Rev. Canon Kate J. Cullinane, associate dean and canon missioner of Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, and chair of the SRI committee, will attend the council meeting.]

Source - http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_68286_ENG_HTM.htm

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