Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Divestment Question before Presbyterians Firms Connected to West Bank Dispute Would Not Get Funds

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Divestment Question before Presbyterians Firms Connected to West Bank Dispute Would Not Get Funds

Article excerpt

In a closely watched vote that followed a day of intense deliberations, the Committee on Middle East and Peacemaking Issues of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly approved a resolution Tuesday morning to divest from companies whose products are used by Israel to enforce occupation of the West Bank. The vote was 36 in favor, 11 opposed, and one abstention.

The resolution recommends that the church divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard after an eight- year corporate engagement process yielded no reforms.

The general church body will vote on the resolution this week.

According to Brian Ellison, chair of the Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee, Hewlett-Packard sells hardware used by Israel in its naval blockade of Gaza; Motorola Solutions supplies surveillance technology to Israeli settlements; and Caterpillar provides bulldozers that raze Palestinian homes.

Jim Dugan, a spokesman for Caterpillar, wrote in an email that Caterpillar does not sell machines directly to Israel, but rather through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Program.

The vote came after a long day Monday during which committee members heard impassioned testimony from American Jews, Arab Christians and Presbyterians. Supporters of divestment said that Christian values compelled them not to invest in companies that profit from an unjust occupation.

To fellow committee members, Simone Adams of Atlanta recounted crying at the foot of a cross during a visit to Terezin Concentration Camp in the Czech Republic last year. She said the visit made her question what cruelty had allowed the Holocaust to pass and how Jews could now inflict suffering on their Palestinian neighbors.

"How could someone who has been through something like that in any way or form try even in the slightest way to put somebody else through that?" she asked. …

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