05 January, 2006
APPROACHES TO ECONOMIC ENGAGEMENT
TOWARD A JUST AND VIABLE PEACE IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
An Ongoing Survey by the Responsible Investment Subcommittee of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, 12-19-05
Additional information gratefully received.
734-747-9220 firstname.lastname@example.org 12/19/05
World Council of Churches (2/05)
Advocates selective divestment from US companies like Caterpillar that profit from the Occupation, and from Israeli companies that depend on settlements for materials and labor, or that produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian human rights.
Churches with investment funds have an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions to conflict. Economic pressure is one such means of action.
Sabeel (International Group that represents Palestinian Christians) (Summer 2005)
There is a spiritual dimension to all investment.
1. Earning money through investment in companies whose products and services are used to violate Inter- national Law and human rights is equivalent to profiting f! rom unlawful acts and the oppression of others.
2. Continuing such investments, once the facts are brought to our attention, constitutes enabling harm to innocent civilians under Occupation and condoning illegal settlement policies that lead to human rights violations.
Actions that oppose the Occupation are in fact pro-Israel because the Occupation is destroying Israeli society by increasing poverty, violence and insecurity. Sabeel cites Israeli human rights lawyer Shamai Leibovitz: “If the Jewish people are ever to become ‘a light of all nations’ and return to their core values of justice and human dignity, Israelis and Jews of conscience must call for effective measures to end the occupation of millions of Palestinians. I believe that selective economic pressure is the most effective way to end the brutal occupation.”
Sabeel founder Naim Ateek, a Palestinian-Israeli Anglican priest, states, “The churches have exhausted all other options.”
General Assembly, 7/04, adopted a policy of ’Morally Responsible Investment,” drawing on the historical precedent of South Africa. A “phased selective divestment” procedure is initially implemented by the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI), as follows:
1.“Progressive engagement” (communication and meetings) with selected multinational corporations.
2. If no agreement, shareholder resolutions may be considered.
3. If a corporation remains uncooperative, MRTI may ask Gen’l Assembly to place it on a divestment/proscription list.
4. MRTI (8/05) selects five companies to approach: Caterpillar, Motorola, ITT, United Technologies, Citicorp.
United Church of Christ (UCC) (adopted 7/05)
Commitment to Israel’s safe and sec! ure existence within internationally recognized borders (condemns violence on both sides)
1. Urges US to play the role of honest broker
2. Significant dialogue with Jewish, Christian and Muslim partners
3. Education of congregants about the realities on the ground
4. “Economic leverage” on behalf of oppressed people:
A) Divestment from companies that sell arms or military hardware to Israel.
B) “Reallocation of US foreign aid to constrain militarization of the Middle East.”
Anglican Consultative Council, 5/05, calls for “active engagement” with companies by Anglican communions worldwide. Divestment may be considered later.
Episcopalian Executive Council (governing body) (10/8/05) directs its Committee for Social Responsibility in Investments to undertake the following:
1.“Corporate engagement via dialogue and shareholder resolutions, as appropriate, to enc! ourage companies to adopt socially responsible practices that advance positive changes in Israeli government policy” and end the Occupation.
2. Urge the Palestinian Authority to oppose violence as a means of resistance.
3. “Positive investment” to encourage companies and join other religious organizations in investing in the economic infrastructure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip: “A stable Palestinian state will make for a more secure Israel.” Seek opportunities, with others, to make loans to “support economic justice and development in support of a future Palestinian State.” Palestine, like Israel, has a right to an economy that flourishes.
4. Urge members of the Episcopal Church to visit church partners and others in Israel and the Palestinian Territories "in order to understand the complexities of the conflict."
The United Methodist Church
New England Conference
Resolution on “Divesting from Companies that are Supporting, in a Significant Way, the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories.” 6/11/05: The settlements and Israel’s wall on Palestinian land violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, UN resolutions, and the 2003 Roadmap. Therefore a committee will determine which investments support the occupation, writing the company to request a change in its relationship to the occupation. If no change is taken or contemplated within 60 days, the company’s name will be placed on a divestment list and shared with Methodist churches and investment managers.
The Church calls on the US government, the government of Israel, and the Palestinian leadership to reject all acts of aggression and violence, to respect the equality and dignity of all the region’s people, and follow principles of international law and human rights. The Church affirms the right of Christians, Jews, and Muslims to freedom of movement in the Holy Land and the maintenance of Jerusalem as an open city for people of all three faiths.
Virginia United Methodists
6/05 affirmed Israel's right to exist within permanent, recognized, and secure borders, and Palestinians' right to self-determination and the formation of a viable state.
The Conference called upon the United Methodist Board of Pensions to review its investments and undertake a process of phased, selective divestment from any multinational corporations profiting from the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of the Palestinian economy and confiscation of Palestinian land.
York and Hull District Methodist Synod, England. (4/05) Recommended to the UK Methodist Conference that it follow the lead of the World Council of Churches and Presbyterian Church, undertaking a review of all investments under its control, with a view to divesting! from any corporations or activities that support the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Synod urges International Law as the basis of the Conference resolution, to be well publicized. (Passed: 187 for, 0 against, 1 abstention.)
The United Church of Canada (Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of Christ) - Toronto region: Seeking Peace Through Justice: Ethical Investment in the Middle East: The Toronto Conference calls on presbyteries, churches, mission units and members to reaffirm the UC’s commitment to the right of Israel to exist in peace and security within internationally-recognized borders and the right of Palestinians to exist in peace and freedom in an internationally recognized state. Recognizes that the path of peace is dependent on the ending of the Israeli occupation, including withdrawal of Israeli settlements. Commits to:
1) Join the World Council of Churches international boycott of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements.
2) Divest itself of investments in -- and boycott the products and services of -- corporations whose activities serve to encourage the continued existence of these illegal settlements. (adopted 2003)
Ann Arbor Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (Resolution adopted 5/03}:
Recognizes the US government’s complicity in violations of human rights, and calls for suspending military aid and arms sales to Israel.
Asks the University of Michigan, the city of Ann Arbor and members’ religious organizations to exert their influence.
And, along with individuals, to divest from companies that sell arms or other military hardware to Israel. The goal is to bring about Israel’s compliance with UN resolutions and the Geneva Convention.
Philadelphia Friends Meeting (Quakers):
“Threshing Session” Topic, “Israel’s Occupation: Is It Time for Divestment? Spring 2005:
1. What are the “facts on the ground”?
2. What are our historic precedents for action?
3. What are the criteria for action?
4. How do we maintain integrity in seeking both justice and compassion?
Next step: Threshing sessions with other Philadelphia Meetings, Winter 2005.
JEWISH AND PALESTINIAN ORGANIZATIONS:
New Profile (2/05) (An Israeli peace group active with army Refusers, women’s groups, and peace groups)
“New Profile aims to transform Israel from a highly militaristic society to a civilian society dedicated to equality of gender and ethnicity and firmly based on universal human rights. One of several characteristics of militarism is the use of force to obtain political objectives. New Profile deems Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians to be a use of force to obtain the political objective of creating the ‘greater Israel.’
“New Profile opposes the Occupation on three counts:
1. Its destruction of Palestinian life, society, land, and property.
2. Its role in maintaining militarism in Israel.
3. Its erosion of Israel’s socio-economic and moral fabric.
“We therefore seek non-violent means of ending this catastrophic Occupation. One such means is using economic sanctions to pressure the government to change its policy. To this end New Profile welcomes and supports selective divestment aimed at divesting from companies that contribute to the continuation of the Occupation by supplying arms, other equipment, or staff… [E]nding the occupation is not only to the benefit of the Palestinians but also necessary for the welfare of Israel, its youth, and future generations. Over 20,000 Israeli soldiers have died in its wars since 1948. Enough.”
ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) calls for sanctions (1/05)
1.Selective divestment from companies that p! rofit from the Occupation, e.g., Caterpillar and from Israeli companies that depend on settlements for materials or labor or that produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian human rights
2. Remind churches with investment funds that they have an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions to conflict. Economic pressure is one such means of action. Calls for churches to:
A. Exert pressure on companies to discontinue business that supports the occupation
B. When pressure fails, divest from such companies
Palestinian Civil Society (170 organizations) 7/05: “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights”
1. South Africa apartheid is a historical precedent
2. End the occupation and dismantle the wall
3. Recognize the rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel
4. Right of return re: UN resolution 194
Not in My Name (NIMN) Supports Selective Divestment as a Tool to Oppose the Israeli Occupation. on 1/16/05: “…[T]he Occupation is destroying Israeli society by increasing poverty, violence, and insecurity. Therefore actions that oppose the Occupation are, in fact, pro-Israeli. Furthermore, we believe that such actions are in keeping with our vision of a Judaism that is based on the principle of justice.
“Well designed divestment campaigns can help focus public discourse on the Occupation. They can also have a positive material impact, as has been shown by such projects as the grape boycott to support the United Farm Workers and the opposition to South African apartheid.
“NIMN supports selective divestment and/or selective boycott campaigns that target corporations that profit from the Occupation….
“We underscore our belief that the Occupation is not only destroying Palestinian society, but Israeli society, as well. Selective divestment from companies that profit from this destruction is not only appropriate, it is both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli.
“Therefore, NIMN urges its members and supporters to investigate and actively support selective divestment and boycott campaigns that target corporations that profit from the Occupation.”
Jewish Voice for Peace (includes American Jews and Israeli peace activists). (12/04) Supports the Presbyterian Church’s “selective divestment from companies, including Caterpillar, that profit from Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and from Israeli companies that use settlements as a source for materials and labor or that produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian human rights. General divestment is not advised; rather: target the Occupation and the Israeli military complex that sustains it, not Israel itself. Condemning the Israeli government’s abuse of state power is in no way attacking Jewish people.
US military aid since 1949 “represents the largest transfer of funds from one country to another in history.” Of all US military aid to Israel, 75%, by law, must go to US corporations, making corporations, not Israel or Israelis, the primary recipient of US aid. US corporations are the primary beneficiaries of Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands!
European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP). “No Other Way” calls for economic pressure targeted at the Occupation. The rationale for these measures highlights:
1). Their non-violent nature, and
2). The fact that the need to resort to these steps is a result of the failure of other means.
Opposing the Israeli occupation cannot be construed as anti-Semitic. On the contrary, looking to endow Israel with special rights because it is a Jewish state is an attitude which smacks of anti-Semitism (because it sees Jews as being different from the rest of humanity). Under “Divestment act! ions,” EJJP calls for pressure by boycott and information campaigns on companies, institutions, organizations, and individuals that profit from involvement in or contribution to the Occupation, such as Caterpillar, Intel, and Soda Club. It includes Israeli companies that produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian human rights, and also universities, research institutions, and individuals that contribute to the perpetuation of the Occupation. The purchase of Israeli arms and weapons should be banned, and governments are asked to stop selling Israel arms used to continue the Occupation. Settlement products should be boycotted, based on the Gush Shalom list, as well as products bearing labels that do not differentiate between settlement products and those made in Israel.
Jews Against The Occupation New York, NY 11/04, www.jatonyc.org
“We are writing as deeply committed Jews to thank! the Presbyterian Church for acting as a true friend to our people. Their decisions to condemn Israel's Wall…, and to begin selective divestment of holdings in multinational corporations doing business in Israel/Palestine represent an important step forward in the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to the conflict.. We believe that the day will come, be it in five years or fifty, when the Presbyterian Church’s action in this matter will be remembered with love and gratitude by Jews around the world….”
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOS)
United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Middle East Peace. (7/05)
A Call to Action: “ [W]e urge international, national and regional social movements, organizations and coalitions to support the unified call of Palestinian civil society for a global campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] to pressure Israel to end the occupation and fully comply with international law and all relevant UN resolutions. We have identified the coming year to mobilize for and inaugurate this BDS campaign.”
European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on the Question of Palestine
Members of the civil society of EU member states petition their governments, the EU Council, and the UN “to take political and economical measures, including sanctions, to prevent Israel from continuing the construction of the wall and to force it to respect the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion” [which ruled that the Wall on Palestinian soil is unlawful]. NGOs urge their governments to cease all military exchanges and agreements with Israel, to provide no aid in construction of the Wall, to honor their commitment to the Fourth Geneva Convention and UN Resolutions, and to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement
Global Exchange (An international human rights organization working for social, economic, and environmental justice.) Palestinians in Israel “live as third class citizens, facing legal, economic, and social discrimination. In the occupied territories, Israel continues to subject the Palestinians there to home demolitions, closures & checkpoints, extrajudicial detentions and assassinations, immobilizing curfews, and countless other daily abuses and forms of oppression. The system of apartheid that Israel has developed closely resembles that which South Africa once had. Apartheid in South Africa was eventually abolished in large part because of an international grassroots movement to stop financial support of the apartheid regime.”
“Through divestment (stopping capital investment in companies that do business in Israel) and boycott (not buying Israeli products) we can bring justice to the Israelis and Palestinians as well.” (updated 8/23/05)
Labor for Palestine (LPF) emerged in the US in response to Palestinian workers’ exploitative conditions. Labor union pension funds are said to have about 5 billion dollars invested in State of Israel Bonds. Divestment from these bonds is a central platform of Labor for Palestine.
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation supports the nationwide municipal and state divestment initiative. The group provides divestment resources to inform, educate and mobilize the public regarding the US government’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the way funds invested by municipalities and state governments, trade unions and other US organizations help sustain the occupation. The nationwide divestment initiative is a vehicle of change, as groups pressure for an end to the investment that enables Israel to carry out its military occupation, and call on municipal, state and federal governing bodies to issue statements opposing that occupation.
The US Campaign recognizes that there is no single way to approach divestment. Given the grassroots nature o f this effort, it is up to activists on the ground to decide what practices would work best in their localities.
National Lawyers Guild. Resolution To Divest, In Principle And Practice, From Israel (Adopted by NLG National Convention 10/24/04)
WHEREAS the Israeli government with its illegal occupation and expansionist program in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip is engaged, and has been engaged in grave human rights violations including but not limited to: the use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians (including men, women, and children); massive and disproportionate use of force including the firing of missiles from Apache helicopter gunships against defenseless civilian populations; illegal mass arrests and institutionalized torture (including men, women, and children); the willful destruction of agricultural land; the deprivation of water; forced malnutrition with concomitant health consequences including stillborn deaths and irreversible developmental damage to children; the mass demolition of homes and confiscation of land; hostage taking and extra-judicial assassinations; denial of medical services to the sick and wounded; the use of human shields (including children); the targeting of schools, and hospitals; the building of illegal fortified "Jewish-only" Israeli colonies/settlements on confiscated land connected by "Jewish-only" bypass roads, and the heavily subsidized transfer of hundreds of thousands of its own civilian population into these colonies/settlements;
WHEREAS the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's Apartheid Wall violates international humanitarian law which governs Israel's administration of the Palestinian territories it has occupied since 1967 as well as the fundamental human rights of the Palestinians;
WHEREAS by virtue of, but not limited to, the Principles of the Nuremberg C! harter and Judgment; The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; I nternational Covenant of Civil and Political Rights; The Geneva Conventions, in particular, but not limited to the 4th Geneva Convention, the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions, as well as other international covenants and the general humanitarian principles of international law, these acts constitute war crimes, and in some cases crimes against humanity.
WHEREAS, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, 22 USC sec. 2304, provides that "no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights;"
WHEREAS, the UN General Assembly on October 22, 2003, reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and …. reiterating its opposition to settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories almost unanimously, with the exception of the US, Israel,
BE IT RESOLVED that the NLG seeks, in principal and practice, to support national and international campaigns to divest from Israel…and (a) support divestment campaigns to make full public disclosure of any and all investments it or other institutions have in Israel and of any and all profits earned from companies invested in Israel, and (b) either immediately divest from those companies, or cause such companies to disinvest from Israel until all of the following conditions are met:
1. Withdraw armed forces;
2. Permit interested refugees to return to their homes and compensate the rest;
4.Vacate all Jewish-only settlement/colonies;
5.Compensate all Palestinian victims.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK) asks consumers to boycott Israeli goods via coordinated demonstrations in major British cities, including London, Brighton, York, Oxford, Durham, and Exeter. Their 12/10/05 winter campaign focuses on avocados, oranges, and dates.
Veterans for Peace (VFP, a 20-year-old US veterans’ organization). Economic Support For Justice And Peace In Palestine (8/6/05 VFP National Conference). VFP’s resolution notes that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major international flashpoint, people of the region are suffering from militarization, the US is the largest single source of governmental financial aid to Israel, and all forms of intervention have failed to achieve Israeli compliance with international law as embodied in UN resolutions and world court decisions (and supported by peace activists within Israel). Therefore, inspired by the South African struggle and the international solidarity which made it effective, and in support of the call by more than 170 Palestinian political parties, unions, and organizations for such economic actions, “Veterans For Peace calls for boycott, divestment, and other actions against economic activities that support Israel’s continued occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands and the denial of fundamental human rights to Palestinians both in Israel and in the occupied territories until the Government of Israel complies with international law and the universal principles of human rights. VFP urges members and chapters to support such economic actions which seem to them best calculated to bring about a change in Israeli government policy for the benefit of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.”
GOVERNMENTAL AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS:
The Norwegian Provincial Parliament of the Trondheim district, with nearly 20% of the population of Norway, voted on 12/15/05 to “completely and totally” prohibit the purchase or sale of Israeli products in all municipalities in the province. Perhaps significantly, this Parliament was the first Norwegian governmental body to boycott South African Apartheid.
US Green Party (11/21/05) “calls for divestment from and boycott of the State of Israel until such time as the full individual and collective r ights of the Palestinian people are realized. The party calls on all civil society institutions and organizations around the world to implement a comprehensive divestment and boycott program. Further, the party calls on all governments to support this program and to implement state level boycotts.”
The more than fifty universities and colleges with divestment drives have tended to use approaches similar to:
University of Pennsylvania Petition for Divestment from Arms Corporations that do Business with Israel and Other Human Rights Violators 2/03
We, the undersigned are appalled by the human rights abuses against Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government, the continual military occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory by Israeli armed forces and settlers, and the forcible eviction from and demolition of Palestinian homes, towns and cities;
We are horrified by attacks against Israeli civilians, and we, like many in the Israeli peace movement, are convinced that only the end of the Israeli occupation and establishment of a geographically and economically viable Palestinian state can bring peace to the Middle East; . . .
Therefore, as members of the University of Pennsylvania community we call on the University to divest from all companies whose business promotes the Israeli occupation, especially firms that sell arms to Israel and firms based in illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, until the following conditions are met:
1. Israel complies with United Nations Resolution 242, which notes the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by w ar, and which calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces . . .
2. Israel complies with the United Nations Committee Against Torture 2001 Report. . . ,
3. Israel complies with the Fourth Geneva Convention ("The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies”)
4. Israel . . . begins to implement United Nations Resolution 194 with respect to the rights of refugees
We furthermore believe that the University of Pennsylvania should divest from arms manufacturers that do business with any nation that has been shown to violate human rights, including Egypt, Turkey, Colombia, or any other. This petition focuses on Israel because it is the largest recipient of US military aid, as well as one of the largest manufacturers of military software and weapons, in the world.