Presbyterians Reject Divestment Back Boycott

Split Vote on Measures Designed To Punish Israel

By Forward Staff

Published July 06, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) rejected divestment from companies doing business with Israeli security forces in the West Bank but approved a measure backing a boycott of goods made in the Occupied Territories.

The 333-331 vote, with two abstentions, in Pittsburgh late Thursday was the closest that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has come to a win in a major arena.

By a 457-180 vote, the group voted to boycott AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories beauty products and dates from the Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers Co-operative Ltd. because they come from Israeli settlements, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The vote replaced a measure recommending investment for peace among Palestinians instead of the majority report of a Middle East committee, which had recommended divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard for supplying settlements and the Israeli army with security products for use in the West Bank.

A similar measure was defeated more decisively at a Methodist assembly in May, and last month MSCI-ESG, an influential adviser on investment for progressive causes, said that Caterpillar’s supply of bulldozers to Israel was a factor – although not the decisive one – in the decision to remove the company from recommended investments.

The Jewish community had been particularly active in lobbying against the Presbyterian measure.

Earlier this week, the dovish American Jewish groups Americans for Peace Now and J Street also called on the Presbyterian Church’s plenary to vote down the resolution.

Also, Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs and the umbrella agency’s point person on interfaith relations, was at the convention to speak with church leaders about toning down the resolution, according to a JCPA spokesman.

In the lead up to the vote, more than 22,000 Jews had signed a letter urging delegates to the Presbyterian General Assembly to reject the resolution.The “Letter of Hope,” which followed an earlier letter signed by 1,300 rabbis sent to the PCUSA, called on Presbyterians to deepen their “understandings of the multiple narratives in the region” and “focus on positive steps including economic development, Palestinian state building, and a return to negotiations.”

However, Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace’s director of campaigns, was also in Pittsburgh for the convention and lobbied on behalf of the resolution.

“It’s too early to know what is going to happen, but I have been moved to tears on multiple occasions as I saw authentic recognition of Palestinian experience and deep commitment to justice for all people by the Presbyterian Church,” she said after the vote. “This is a historic moment in the struggle for dignity and justice, and I commend the PCUSA for getting us this close to holding corporations accountable for profiting from the occupation.”

She said indicated that another resolution might be brought up Friday, adding, “I suggest we all wait to see what unfolds on Friday.”

With JTA


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.