COE's disinvestment vote 'advisory'

Former Archbishop of Canterbury urges Church to adopt a 'constructive' approach.

IDF bulldozer, road 298 (photo credit: AP)
IDF bulldozer, road 298
(photo credit: AP)
The Church of England's money managers will ignore the call by its legislative assembly, the General Synod, to disinvest from companies whose products are used by Israel in the territories. In a statement given to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) - a consulting firm that advises the church on ethical investment strategies for its 2 billion portfolio - said the resolution calling for the sale of the church's 2.2 million holding in Caterpillar was "an advisory one only." "We will of course reflect on the message the synod has sent, but it does not mean that disinvestment is either imminent or likely" they said. Neville White, secretary of the EIAG, noted the church's money managers would "take heed" of the motion, but the synod could not "compel" the sale of Caterpillar stock. "We don't see it leading to" that, he said. Damage control by the church began immediately after the Monday night vote chastising Israel and calling for divestment. EIAG officials telephoned British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the chief executive officer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jon Benjamin, explaining the vote was symbolic and that there would be no move to "reopen the file" on disinvestment. In June, the EIAG rejected disinvestment as an ethical investing strategy in the case of Israel and the territories. Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury and a vocal opponent of divestment, on Tuesday challenged the church to adopt a constructive attitude and "talk about investment in Palestine and not simply divestment." Peace was more likely to arise, he said, from the work of Sir Ronald Cohen, chairman of the venture capital firm Apax Partners, and "other Jewish businessmen who were investing in the Palestinian territories" to achieve economic prosperity than from "calls for disengagement."