Presbyterians vote 483-28 to cancel divestment from Israel

The Presbyterian Church USA has ended its two-year policy of divesting from companies doing business with Israel and adopted a new resolution which does not single out Israel as a target for divesting funds. The new policy was approved Wednesday by the general assembly of the church gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, winning an overwhelming 483-28 majority. According to the new language adopted by the Church, investments in the Middle East should be done "in only peaceful pursuits" and will be subject to the same scrutiny as any other investment. The term "divestment" is not included in the resolution. The Church's new policy is a shift from its 2004 stand, which advocated a "phased and selective" divestment from multinational companies which have profited from contracts with Israel in connection to the "occupation" of the West Bank. Though the church did not actually pull out any investments yet, it was in the process of discussing the possibility with five companies that did business with Israel, including Caterpillar and Motorola. According to the new resolution, investments in these firms and others that have ties to Israel will no longer be singled out by the church's investment committee. The church also added a clause to the resolution in which it express its regret over the "hurt and misunderstanding" the divestment resolution caused to the American Jewish community. Jewish communal activists welcomed the new resolution, which is seen as a victory to the anti-divestment movement. "The new overture, which directs the church to analyze its financial investments under its traditional process and not single out Israel, demonstrates the continued importance of interfaith dialogue in resolving problems between faith groups," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Mark Pelavin of the Religious Action Center of the Reform movement added that the Presbyterian Church "got it right." Pelavin, who spoke to the delegates at the general assembly, said that the new resolution "is a tribute to their seriousness of purpose, and their open-minded consideration of the proposals before them."