Anglican advisors reject divestment

EIAG chairman says group takes Synod's call for divestment 'very seriously.'

anglican lord carey 88 (photo credit: )
anglican lord carey 88
(photo credit: )
Divestment activists in the UK were handed a defeat today after the Church of England's financial advisors voted unanimously to reject the Church's call to divest from Caterpillar Inc. The Ethical Investment Advisory Group [EIAG] voted unanimously on March 7 not to divest from Caterpillar, and said it would review the issue "if there are new sales of Caterpillar equipment to the Israeli Defense Forces for use in the demolition of Palestinian houses". The recommendation repudiates a February 6 vote by the General Synod, the Church's parliament, to divest from Caterpillar and other companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories. The vote sparked widespread opprobrium from Jewish and Christian leaders led by the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, who denounced the divestment vote as feckless and ill-considered. John Reynolds, chairman of the EIAG, acknowledged that divestment "is hugely contentious" and noted it had taken General Synod's call to divest "very seriously. He added that at its special meeting, EIAG had considered all the points made in the debate and given particular weight to the letter it had received" from the Jerusalem-based Anglican Bishop Riah Abu al-Assal in support of divestment. However, EIAG stated on March 7 it "could find no compelling evidence that Caterpillar is or has been complicit in human rights abuses." Nick Dearden, a spokesman for the charity War On Want, which spearheaded the divestment campaign, told The Jerusalem Post they were "extremely disappointed" as the Church "should not have its money in companies that destroy houses and violate international law." Dearden said divestment campaigners would not give up and would try to persuade the Church to reject the advice of its financial advisors and "honor the synod vote". Jon Benjamin, chief executive officer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the Post he "welcomed the decision" which "contrasted handily to the debate in Synod." The EIAG had "sat down with both sides" hearing all the evidence, before reaching its conclusions, he said. Benjamin noted that "by being able to contribute" to the debate, the Board's presentation of the facts on the ground in Israel had helped to persuade the EIAG to stand down.