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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summary of General Assembly Action on Divestment

The following summary was put together by members of the General Assembly Mission Agency staff:

Summary of General Assembly Action on Divestment

The 221st General Assembly (2014) voted by a narrow margin to divest from three U.S. companies— Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola Solutions—whose products are used to further the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The assembly’s vote was 310-303.
     o These non-peaceful activities are inconsistent with the church’s socially responsible investment policy. The church does not believe it should profit from the occupation.
     o Caterpillar provides bulldozers used in the destruction of Palestinian homes and for clearing land of fruit and olive tree groves.
     o Hewlett Packard provides electronic systems at checkpoints, logistics and communications systems to support the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, as well as business relationships with illegal settlements in the West Bank.
     o Motorola Solutions provides military communications and surveillance systems in illegal Israeli settlements.
     o The church’s committee on socially responsible investing has been engaged with these companies for more than a decade urging change in these corporate activities with no results.
     o This action is not divestment from Israel; the church has other significant investments in Israeli organizations which it will maintain.

     o The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is explicit in:
     - Affirming the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign nation within secure and internationally recognized borders.
     - Advocating for the right of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace, free from threats or acts of force.
     - Declaring that this action does not indicate alignment with the overall global Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
     - Regarding Zionism Unsettled, the assembly declared that the publication does not represent the views of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) but that it will continue to be available through the online store.

     o In the past year, the church has made several positive investments in economic development in Palestine.
     o The measure also reaffirms the PC(USA)’s commitment to interfaith dialogue and partnerships
with the American Jewish and Muslim friends, and with Palestinian Christians.

Charles Wiley described it in this way:
     o “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are trying to love two neighbors at the same time. In the midst of these two loves, we are compelled to speak for justice for what is occurring in the occupation. We refuse to choose between these two neighbors, even if our specific choices are difficult for one of our neighbors to understand.

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