Last week, a New Zealand government fund divested from three Israeli companies because of their involvement in the construction of Judea and Samaria settlements. Elbit, Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel and its construction subsidiary Danya Cebus, and Shikun & Binui were excluded from the $23.5 billion New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the New Zealand Herald reported last week.
In a statement, Anne-Maree O’Connor, the fund’s manager for responsible investment, said, “Findings by the United Nations that the separation barrier and settlement activities were illegal under international law were central to the fund’s decision to exclude the companies. The fund also factored in votes by New Zealand for UN Security Council resolutions demanding the cessation and dismantling of the separation barrier, and the cessation of Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
As a Christian living in New Zealand I would like to apologize for the actions of the New Zealand government. In 1948 we stood by the Jewish people but now, for the sake of oil and meat sales, things have changed.
Much has been said about the dividing wall that Israel has built between the Jewish People and the Arab People, but very little has been asked about why it is there.
In 1992, a Policeman was kidnapped in Israel by a terrorist organization. They negotiated his freedom for the release of some of their own people. However, it was discovered that while the negotiations were going on he was already dead. Following this there were many kidnappings and killings of young soldiers as they hitchhiked across the country. Schoolgirls were attack in the schools and an older man waiting for a bus was murdered. Each time these attacks occurred the border between Israel and the “West Bank” was closed but when the situation cleared it was reopened. Finally in March 1993 Israel had had enough and with the coming of the Oslo Accords, which called for a separation of the two people, they closed the border. A month later, two terrorists trying to kidnap a busload of people, murdered two ladies. This confirmed to the Israel Government the closure should remain.
About this time, the Bus bombs started and many Israelis died, men, women and children all going about their general business. The bombs occurred in the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and at bus stops throughout the country. The closure stayed in place. Then there was the bombing of the restaurant where the young lady who was to marry the next day, died with her father.
The problem with this closure was that it was like a sieve, the closure was only on the main roads and these check points were very easy to bypass. Once I traveled north to Jenin from Bethlehem, to take one of our boys home for the holidays. As the taxi was coming from Ramalah to Jerusalem, there was a large queue of vehicles waiting to pass through the checkpoint. The driver turned right and went up through the housing area, out onto a dry wadi and across several hundred meters of open ground, then turned back onto the main road and continued into Jerusalem, bypassing the checkpoint. This is how easy it was for bombers to enter into the cities of Israel.
Hundreds of Israelis have been killed or maimed for life since the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords. There have been more than 70 Palestinian bomb attacks aimed at Israelis since September 2000. On February 25, 2005, four people were killed and at least 30 injured in a bomb blast outside a night club in Tel Aviv, weeks after Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared a truce. We’ve lost count of the bombings that occurred when we were living there. A friend of ours survived a bombing but died from thyroid cancer, caused by the blast, 5 years later.
Since the building of the separation barrier, there have been about three attacks on Israelis, and all because the bombers cannot reach their planned targets. Of course this barrier is frustrating to the local people, but it is even more frustrating to the people carrying bombs; that is why they want it removed. It is difficult to pass through the checkpoint of the wall at times but it stops people from both sides being killed. The last time I passed through the wall it took about an hour, but this is a small price to pay when you think of the alternative. Nobody wants the wall, not Israel as it has caused them much bad publicity, not the Arabs because of the problems it can cause them just getting to work. The Orthodox Jews do not want it as it gives legitimacy to the West Bank, – Samaria and Judea the Biblical heart land of Israel – being given away to the very people who are trying to destroy the State of Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization Charter written in 1964 three years before Israel took over the West Bank and still in force today, calls for the destruction of Israel. The left wing Israelis don’t want it because they say it is an obstacle to peace.
Late last night, November 13, there was a unanimous vote at a California school for divestment from certain companies that do business with Israel. Unanimous, 16 -0.
There are, however, several points militating against an uptick in alarm.
For one thing, the school at which this took place was the University of California at Irvine. Yes, the school that allowed students to repeatedly disrupt Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, in 2010. Eleven of those hooligans were charged and convicted of conspiracy and disrupting a public meeting. Those convictions were obtained despite the efforts of many UCIrvine faculty members, including a large number of Jewish Studies department faculty.
But more importantly, the vote was taken by the UC Irvine Student Government, which, in all likelihood, does not have any investments in the targeted companies, or any other companies, for that matter.
The student government also called on the UC Irvine administration to divest from the named companies, but a student group’s call on its university to take the students’ investment advice is not exactly like money in (or, in this case, out of) the bank.
While the vote was really the equivalent of a small group of children shouting at those acting in loco parentis to take its investment advice, last night’s effort by anti-Israel student leadership at UCI is noteworthy for a small shift in tactic.
Although the Resolution repeatedly compared Israeli activity to Apartheid South Africa, the student government Resolution only sought divestment from those companies it deemed to provide support for the Security Fence, the demolition of “Palestinian” homes, and the building or maintenance of the “illegal Israeli settlements” on “occupied Palestinian territory.” In the past, calls for divestment from Israel typically called for divestment from any company doing business in Israel, which was the South Africa Apartheid divestment model.
The nitty gritty details, that is, that it was a student group that voted to divest its own (non-existent) financial holdings from certain companies – and was not the vote by a university to divest its holdings from companies doing business in Israel – was completely lost on most other media reporting on the vote. Professional Israel haters such as Ali Abunimeh and Noam Chomsky were quick to add their support, as were Muslim Student Associations and other anti-Israel groups across the country. To see the misguided glee, check on twitter #IrvineDivest.
The Resolution, which was introduced by Sabreen Shalabi, and seconded by Shadi Jafari, follows:
Item Number: 16
Legislation Number (B: Bill, R: Resolution): R48-15
Synopsis: Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid
Date of Presentation: November 13, 2012
Divestment from Companies that Profit from ApartheidWHEREAS, it is UC Irvine’s duty to maintain the values of “respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, and empathy” which includes the promotion of human rights, equality, and dignity for all people without distinction;WHEREAS, it is the mission of the UCI Foundation to “ensure the appropriate use of all funds” in order to uphold the values of respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment appreciation, and empathy;WHEREAS, students have a legacy of standing against oppression and injustice at UC Irvine and across the U.S.;WHEREAS, the role of student activists in exposing South Africa’s apartheid system and supporting equality, freedom, and dignity sets an example for us to follow as students of global conscience;WHEREAS, as the example of South Africa shows, it is imperative for students to stand unequivocally against all forms of racism and bigotry globally and on campus, including but not limited to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, patriarchy, and Israel’s system of apartheid;WHEREAS, the occupied Palestinian Territory is controlled militarily by the Israeli government;WHEREAS, certain companies have promoted and been complicit in these ongoing human rights violations systematically committed by the Israeli government, which have been documented by human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International, Addameer, B’tselem, Adalah, Badil, and the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions;WHEREAS, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated régime are contrary to international law”;WHEREAS, according to the same ICJ decision, the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem is also illegal by international law;
A Quaker group has removed a French and an American company from its financial portfolio due to what it calls the companies’ involvement with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.
Friends Fiduciary Corporation will drop the French multinational corporation Veolia Environment and the U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard from its portfolio following requests from Quakers concerned about the companies’ involvement in the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian lands.
FFC has investments of more than $250,000 in HP and more than $140,000 in Veolia, according to the We Divest Campaign. The money is part of an overall $200 million in assets and investments for more than 250 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the country.
The Quaker group does not issue public announcements about such moves, but did send a letter confirming the information, Anna Baltzer, a spokesperson for the We Divest Campaign, told JTA.
“It’s not private; it’s public information and they’ve written a letter to the Friends Meeting in Ann Arbor Michigan that raised the issue,” she said. The Ann Arbor group did not return JTA’s call for this article.
However, Jeffrey W. Perkins, the FFC’s Executive Director, said in a press release issued by We Divest that HP provides information technology consulting services to the Israeli Navy and Veolia Environment is involved in “environmental and social concerns” with the Israeli military,
This decision comes a few months after the FFC dropped shares in Caterpillar Inc. because Caterpillar “would neither confirm nor deny the extent or type of modifications to equipment sold to the Israeli military,” according to the release.
The intense Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Caterpillar Inc. has been dealt a significant blow in recent weeks, after the company issued a stinging rebuke of the campaign’s accusations, and it was revealed that the Palestinian Authority recently bought Caterpillar equipment.
Caterpillar, long a favored target of BDS ire because Israel uses its equipment in Judea and Samaria, undercut the justification for the campaign by exposing a basic falsehood on which the campaign is built in an email exchange between Just Foreign Policy Director and Huffington Post blogger Robert Naiman and Caterpillar Spokesman Jim Dugan on the Huffington Post Monitor website last Friday.
Dugan, responding to a post written by Naiman encouraging divestment of Caterpillar because it “sells to Israel,” wrote that the bulldozers
“that get most of the attention are provided to the Israeli government as part of a program administered by the United States government that supports US allies.”
To remove any doubt about whether Caterpillar sells equipment to Israel, Dugan elaborated on the specifics of the transactional process:
“This is how it works. Caterpillar sells equipment to the U.S. government, which then transfers the equipment to the Israeli government, which then transfers it to the Israeli military.”
Instead of addressing the substance of Dugan’s email, Naiman cites former director of the U.S. Office of B’Tselem and fellow BDS supporter Mitchell Plitnick – who he apparently believes to be more authoritative on the subject of Caterpillar’s business practices – for the proposition that “CAT provides Israel with the bulldozers, specially designed for weaponization.”
An obviously annoyed Dugan responds with a sharp rejoinder:
Please read my post, but if that’s too much trouble, I’ll summarize…
We supply machines to the United States Government.”
He then repeats the process by which Israel procures Caterpillar machinery:
“The facts, not opinion. We sell machines to the United States as part of a program that includes reviews by the State Department, Congress and the Executive Branch.
Fact. As I indicated in my post, we do not weaponize machines used by the IMF [sic, IDF]. Modifications may be done to our machines after they are sold.”
Dugan ends with a scathing remark which he seems to apply not only to Naiman, but to the BDS movement in general:
“It is too bad people keep making claims that are not factual.”
Throwing another wrench in the BDS campaign against Caterpillar was the revelation by The Elder of Ziyon blog that “the official Caterpillar dealer in Ramallah transferred several tractors to the Palestinian Authority” several weeks ago [emphasis added].
The blog cited Palestinian Tractor’s website, which boasts a Caterpillar logo and speaks proudly of its status as a Caterpillar dealer:
Palestinian Tractor and Equipment Co. Ltd. was established in 1995 as a sister company to Jordan Tractor and Equipment Co. and as an affiliate Company to M.E. JALLAD the dealer of Caterpillar Inc. in Lebanon and Syria since 1929. It is a part of Caterpillar dealers network established all over the world.
As a Caterpillar dealer, PT&E are able to bring to the country not only the finest quality products but also the expertise and the know how of a world leader in the productive use and management of machines that serve various segments of the market.
Of course, another course of action could have been to boycott, divest, and sanction the U.S. government and Palestinian Authority, but this would have merely distracted the BDS movement from its mission to demonize and delegitimize Israel.
Surprising everyone, but mostly its own rank and file, the largest Presbyterian group in the United States on Thursday rejected by only a razor-thin margin a proposal to divest from three companies that do business with Israel. (IUpdate: As we go into Shabbat in Israel, there are rumors about a motion to reconsider).
“After two hours of debate and presentations Thursday night (July 5), the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) said no to divestment as part of its position on peace in the Middle East.”
After the second vote on Monday, in which Resolution 15-10 to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions had easily passed , anti-Israel advocates were certain that the divestment (BDS) proposal, Resolution 15-10, was going to easily pass in the third and final vote, and took a major hit when the proposal failed in a 333-331 vote with 2 abstentions.
On Thursday, one Caterpillar employee “choked up”during the debates as he defended his company from the calls to divest from it.
[Divestment by the Presbyterian Church] would be a historic and valuable victory for the growing global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
But the crown jewel of the BDS drive organizers, the Israel Palestine Mission Network, is their proud list of bone fida Jewish organizations and individuals who have made the economic strangling of Israel their highest goal.
Rebecca Vilkomerson, writing for Jewish Voice for Peace, celebrated the “biggest U.S. victory yet for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement,” as “over the objection of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), pension giant TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds have divested from Caterpillar.”
Except that their claim of BDS success at TIAA-CREF is a false boast. IAA-CREF decision was based on a downgraded rating given by MSCI ESG Research.
MSCI ESG Research stated:
“[They have] assessed this [Israel-Palestinian] human rights controversy since 2004. This controversy has been incorporated in the rating since then and, as such, did not trigger the ratings downgrade in February 2012.”
Meanwhile, so-called Rabbis Margaret Holub, Brant Rosen, Alissa Wise, Julie Greenberg, Michael Feinberg, Michael Davis, Rachel Barenblatt, Lynn Gottleib, Laurie Zimmerman, Rebecca Alpert, Joseph Berman, David Mivasair, Borukh Goldberg, Meryl Crean, Howard A Cohen, Mordechai Liebling, Elizabeth Bolton, Everett Gendler, Michael Lerner, and Leonard Beerman, sent an “Open Letter to the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA)”:
We are aware that the Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA) has unleashed a powerful campaign to dissuade you, and consequently dissuade the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) from moving forward with their well-considered divestment campaign…
As Jewish leaders, we believe the JCPA’s stance against church divestment does not represent the broader consensus of the American Jewish community. There is in fact a growing desire within the North American Jewish community to end our silence over Israel’s oppressive occupation of Palestine…
…However, even if the American Jewish community were unanimously opposed to such phased selective divestment by your Church – which is not at all the case – we believe it is still important that you move forward with the thoughtful multi-year process which your Church has begun.
And Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, also from the Jewish Voice for Peace, wrote in June that the reason for supporting the boycott on companies doing business in Israel is because:
Most Jews and Christians are not willing to go to Palestine to personally resist Israeli policies of land conﬁscation, home demolition, destruction of trees and property, military invasion, denial of freedom of movement, administrative detention or the arrest of children through nonviolent protest. Most Jews and Christians do not travel to Israel to work for an end to the blockade of Gaza and are not shot when they try to harvest their wheat or ﬁsh in the sea.
The list of Jews willing to distort history, reality, facts, and context, in service of the enemies of Israel is astonishingly long, and, not surprisingly, there is no discernible difference in style or approach between the anti-Israeli statements made by Arabs and by these Jews.
Except that, once again, like in the divestment battle in the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church, the BDS movement did not have a victory to claim.
But the battle is not over in the Presbyterian’s Middle East committee:
“The Assembly’s work continues on Middle East issues on Friday. The committee’s recommendations to boycott all products that are made in occupied Palestinian territory and sold by Israeli companies and to not use the word “apartheid” to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are two of the items that will be considered.”
In the meantime, a more bland and unbiased proposal replaced the BDS proposal, and it easily passed by 369-290 with 8 abstentions, recognizing “the tragedy of the situation in Israel and calls for engagement at all levels of society for a solution (to the Israel-Palestine conflict).”
Incidentally, the Assembly voted 572-127 to approve a recommendation on the “peaceful engagement of Iran regarding the potential of nuclear weapons.”
We assume they’ll send them flowers.
Finally, these young Jews, at least one of them baptized Christian, advocate the BDS message with a cheerfulness and self assurance (as many of them read from a script to the side of the camera) that must keep their grandparents in excellent physical shape as they roll over in their graves…
The general conference of the United Methodist Church voted not to divest from three companies that trade with Israel.
Two-thirds of the approximately 1,000 delegates to the conference voted Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., against a motion to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard.
Divestment advocates claim that products manufactured by these companies are used to repress Palestinians.
The conference passed motions opposing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, recommending the boycott of products manufactured in settlements, and supporting investment in the Palestinian economy.
Language that would have affirmed the Kairos Document prepared by Palestinian Christians endorsing divestment and boycotts and upholding armed resistance was removed from resolutions before they reached the floor.
A number of groups, including one called United Methodist Kairos Response, had lobbied for the divestment language.
Alex Joyner, the spokesman United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine, said in a statement that his group “had been actively opposing divestment and encouraging the more productive approach of negotiations and positive investments.”
Close to 1,000 delegates from around the world, representing 11-million members, are gathered at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference being held in the Tampa, Florida.
Throughout the 11-day session, delegates will debate the future of the Methodist church, which has experienced a significant participation decline in the United States. Over the last 40 years, US membership has dropped to 8 million, according to church officials.
Four years ago, the conference rejected a divestment motion. But the issue is being pushed again by anti-Israel members, objecting to “illegal settlements, segregated roads, checkpoints, a separation wall, home demolitions and other realities of occupation.”
The United Methodist General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) voted unanimously against divestment from three companies which do business in Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights, according to a report by the Israel Action Network, a project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard came under attack by several bodies within the United Methodist Church, which recommended the religious organization sell all their shares in the companies.
GBPHB commended the companies for their human rights policies and codes of conduct. The Caterpillar Company was acknowledged for providing equipment which “improves the lives of the Palestinian people,” according to the Israel Action Network report. It was also noted that Caterpillar does not sell construction equipment to Israel, but rather to the US Foreign Military Sales Program. Hewlett-Packard was complimented on its record of environmental friendliness, and Motorola Solutions was praised for its work in conflict areas such as Eastern Congo.
The Methodist vote took an opposite approach from that of the Presbyterian Church, which voted in 2004 to divest from Israeli companies. In June of that year, the Presbyterian Church General Assembly issued one resolution stating that “the occupation… has proven to be at the root of evil acts”, and another calling on the US government to prevent Israel from building a separation barrier. The assembly also adopted policies rejecting Christian Zionism. In 2006, the Presbyterian Church backtracked, stating that it would only invest in companies involved in peaceful work in Israel and Arab occupied territories.
The World Council of Churches and United Church of Christ have also adopted divestment policies. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a pro-divestment resolution in 2005.