JVP supports Presbyterian Divestment
JVP statement on Presbyterian vote
More about JVP’s campaign for divestment here: http://bit.ly/JVPdivest4peace
Jewish Voice for Peace Statement on Presbyterian Church (USA) Vote on Boycott and Divestment from Companies Profiting from the Israeli Occupation
Contact: Sydney Levy, sydney AT jvp.org
Rabbi Alissa Wise, alissa AT jvp.org
NEW YORK- July 6th, 2012
Jewish Voice for Peace is heartened by the strong show of opposition to the Israeli Occupation by the Presbyterian Church (USA). This morning, the General Assembly passed a resolution to boycott settlement goods with 71% of the vote, while last evening divestment from companies that profit from the Israeli Occupation was defeated by a razor thin margin of two votes.
Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace Director of Advocacy said, “I congratulate the Presbyterian Church (USA) for their decision today to boycott all goods made in Israeli settlements, just as the United Methodist Church did last month. This vote signifies the mainstreaming of boycott as a way to oppose illegal Israeli settlements, and the Israeli occupation overall. Clearly, the movement for justice for Israelis and Palestinians is growing.”
JVP is very proud to have been part of the broad coalition supporting Presbyterian efforts to boycott settlement products and divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation since 2004. We are especially proud of the members of our youth branch — Young, Jewish, and Proud (YJP) — and of our Rabbinical Council who were in Pittsburgh this year at the General Assembly meeting in support of the resolutions.
Despite being overwhelmingly out-resourced by large Jewish institutions with ties to the Israel lobby, our members succeeded in galvanizing a nearly identical amount of support for divestment as the opposition, and overwhelming support for boycott. This accomplishment is despite heavy-handed fear-mongering by the Jewish establishment that included threatening the future of interfaith cooperation and raising the specter of anti-semitism.
The truth is, growing numbers of Jewish groups and individual Jews of conscience support some form of boycott and/or divestment as a strategic tactic to pressure Israel to end the human rights abuses of the 45-year-old occupation of Palestinian people and land. This support is at least in part a response to over 20 years of U.S.-brokered negotiations that have not simply failed, but worse, have entrenched the Occupation by keeping pressure off of Israel while it has continued to massively expand illegal settlements and evict Palestinians from their homes.
Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace Director of Campaigns, who was at the committee vote on divestment and boycott said: “I was moved to tears in Pittsburgh, as I saw deep recognition of Palestinian experience and deep commitment to justice for all people by the Presbyterian Church (USA). This was a historic moment in the struggle for dignity and justice, and I commend the Church for passing the boycott resolution and for getting this close to holding corporations accountable for profiting from the occupation.”
A near majority of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has shown the courage of true friendship, which sometimes requires facing difficult truths, and for that we are deeply grateful. We know that decades of working closely with Jewish communities in the U.S., engagement with Israel, and an ongoing commitment to understanding the Christian role in historical anti-Semitism, will continue and deepen. Jewish Voice for Peace members in communities across the United States certainly look forward to deepening those relationships, grounded in our joint understanding that Israel’s ongoing occupation makes a peaceful future for both Jews and Palestinians impossible.
Jewish Voice for Peace believes that this very close divestment vote and the successful boycott vote, along with several other recent watershed victories, makes clear that Israel can no longer count on being singled out for special treatment. Depending on major institutions to selectively ignore Israel’s human rights record year after year is no longer a viable strategy.
These recent watershed victories are:
- Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), a leading US investment firm, removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its socially responsible investment indexes, saying Caterpillar’s role in Israeli human rights violations were one of the “key factors” in the decision.
- Shortly thereafter, retirement giant TIAA-CREF dropped $72 million in Caterpillar, Inc stock from their socially responsible funds.
- Friends Fiduciary Corporation, which handles investments for over 250 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the US, divested from Caterpillar.
- The United Methodist Church resolved to boycott “products made by Israeli companies operating in occupied Palestinian territories.” The church called on all nations “to prohibit any financial support by individuals or organizations for the construction and maintenance of settlements and the import of products made [in settlements.]“
The power behind the idea that Palestinians deserve full civil and democratic rights, just as Jewish Israelis do, grows exponentially each day.
We look forward to standing beside our Presbyterian friends as they take additional steps toward a just peace based on security, freedom and equal rights for all the people of Israel and Palestine.
Watch LIVE, July 5, 2012 on Mondoweiss: Follow the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly vote on divestment
Media Coverage of divestment at Presbyterian General Assembly 2012:
JVP's Elisha Baskin in Unbound, July 3, 2012 : Israeli woman says divestment is part of her Jewish identity
JVP's Estee Chandler in Mondoweiss, July 5, 2012: The occupation is extreme
Letter to Editor in KY Forward from JVP's Russ Greenleaf, July 2, 2012: Reader response to Miller on divestment policy of Presbyterian Church
New York Times, July 5, 2012: In Close Vote, Presbyterian Church Rejects Divesting in Firms That Aid Israeli Occupation
Inter Press Service, July 5, 2012: Israel Divestment Campaigns Gain Momentum in U.S.
Washington Post, July 3, 2012: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to vote on divestment measure at General Assembly
Forward, July 6, 2012: Church opposes divestment but backs settlement boycott
Jewith Telegraph Agency, July 6, 2012: Presbyterians narrowly reject divestment
Haaretz, July 3, 2012: U.S. Presbyterian Church committee votes in favor of Israel divestment resolution
Roger Waters, founder of Pink Floyd in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 2nd, 2012: Divest in Israel: Presbyterians should support Palestinian aspirations
Mondoweiss on Roger Waters, July 2, 2012: Roger Waters urges Presbyterians to divest
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 4, 2012: Divestment question before Presbyterians
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 3, 2012: Presbyterian committee votes to support divestment proposal
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 30th, 2012: It's not about Israel, it's about freedom
Presbyterian Outlook: Long-simmering divestment issue may come to a boil at 220th GA
The Christian Post, July 6, 2012: PCUSA Votes 333-331 Against Divestment From Israeli-Tied Companies
Huffington Post, July 6, 2012: Close Presbyterian Vote on Selective Divestment Shows Likudniks Losing Middle America
Electronic Intifada, July 3, 2012: Committee of Presbyterian Church (USA) votes in favor of divestment; now heads for final vote
Former JVP Co-Director Mitchell Plitnick, July 5th, 2012: The Winning Tactics on BDS
Videos of Young, Jewish, and Proud presence at the Presbyterian GA: