Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Presbyterians Push Cure for Mideast Tension

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor
The Presbyterian Church (USA) announced Aug. 5 that it will pull its investments out of five companies that it says serve the militaristic goals of either the Palestinians or Israelis. Caterpillar, Citigroup, ITT Industries, Motorola and United Technologies are on the hit list. Four of the five companies supply the Israeli military. Citigroup is accused of helping route funds to suicide bombers.

The Presbyterian announcement said, in part: “Church policy calls for corporate engagement to be a phased and selective endeavor, using dialogue, shareholder action, and as a last resort, divestment, as distinct phases in the process of working with companies to bring about change which reflects the mission of the Church.”

Some Jewish leaders oppose the action. In an earlier statement about the divestment issue, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews said: “Why should Jews care about criticism of Israel leveled by a mainline denomination that represents a relatively small number of Christians? First, because Jews believed these people shared their values and would stand with them through thick and thin. After all, Jews represent less than 2 percent of the population, and need all the friends they can get. They were, accordingly, most grateful for the friendship of this well-regarded mainline constituency. Second, because the U.S. Jewish community fears -- rightly, I believe -- a snowball effect as other denominations jump on the anti-Israel bandwagon. We already are seeing this in the Episcopal Church’s decision to consider divestment from Israel and in reports that the United Church of Christ and other denominations are doing likewise. And third, for the PCUSA to insinuate that Israel in any way resembles a racist, pariah state like apartheid-era South Africa is inexcusable, and deeply offensive to Jews.”

To read Presbyterian statement, click below:

  • To read Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s statement, click below:
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