Friday, 6 July 2012

American Presbyterians overwhelmingly vote for boycott of settlement products

(11:55 AM EST) In a surprise move, the Presbyterian General Assembly voted to add a "choice of conscience" option for pension holders who want to avoid investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard. Anna Baltzer explains:
The assembly voted by 57% to accept a recommendation by the Board of Pensions (which supports divestment) for them to create a "choice of conscience" option for Pension holders troubled by investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard, which would be voted on for approval at the next General Assembly.

The significance, in my initial interpretation:

1. The approval illustrates that investment in CAT, Moto, and HP represent a crisis of conscience for the church.

2. This would be, essentially, an occupation filter.

3. This shows that GA members support divestment in theory, but are scared for their church to recommend it, likely, I believe, due to fear of losing Jewish relationships. This is no consolation to those suffering under Israeli oppression, but it's illustrative that people are not opposed, in principle, to divestment.

4. It's a reminder that the entire church is for divestment -- the Board of Pensions, Mission Responsibility Through Investment, Advisory Committee on Racial & Ethnic Concerns, etc. The Board of Pensions was so troubled by the votes that they tried to find a way ultimately to pursue divestment.

The exact wording of the proposal should be up at soon.

Israel closes Gaza's Erez crossing without any prior warning

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel closed the Erez crossing on the Gaza border on Friday morning, a Palestinian official said.

Crossing director on the Palestinian side Maher Abu al-Ouf told Ma'an that patients, traders and elderly passengers were waiting to cross when Israeli authorities closed the terminal without prior notice. more

Gaza power plant reduces production, can only meet needs of half population

The energy authority in Gaza has urged citizens to limit their electricity use. The sole power station in Gaza has reduced its production to 30 megawatts in the daytime and 50 megawatts at night.

With power usage doubling in the summer months, the plant is only able to meet the needs of half the population.

The reason for this is the drastic fuel shortage. Only 100,000 litres of fuel reaches Gaza every day-well short of the 500,000 litres needed by the 1.7 million residents. In June, the plant was forced to shut completely due to a delay in a shipment of fuel from Qatar.
On Tuesday, the ministry for Energy stated that supplies from Qatar had been reduced by Israel and Egypt, the two countries through which supplies transit. They blamed "Israeli intransigence and the clear failure of the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum," more

Gaza man shot by soldiers at Israel border while collecting scrap metal

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian was injured Thursday by Israeli forces near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, and was transferred to hospital, a reporter said.

Mohammad Akhrat, 20, was shot in his right leg and his wounds were described as moderate.

The victim was collecting iron scrap when soldiers opened fire, medics said. more

Ex-Foreign Ministry director backs cultural boycott of Israel

A former top Foreign Ministry official has endorsed South Africa’s plan to ban “Made in Israel” labels for imported products from the West Bank, protesting what he calls Israeli complacency about the occupation.

Alon Liel, a former Foreign Ministry director-general and ex-ambassador to South Africa, told The Times of Israel that he also personally boycotts products from West Bank settlements and supports cultural boycotts of Israel to protest the lack of progress in the peace process.

Liel said his stance, which includes supporting author Alice Walker’s refusal to have her book “The Color Purple” translated into Hebrew, also aims to call attention to the urgent need for Jerusalem to ensure the near future brings “Palestinian independence, not an Israeli apartheid state.”

“I can understand the desire, by people of conscience, to reassert an agenda of justice, to remind Israelis that Palestinians exist,” Liel wrote in an article that appeared Sunday in the South African BusinessDay newspaper. Similar versions of the article also appeared in various European newspapers, including the French Liberation.

“I can understand small but symbolic acts of protest that hold a mirror up to Israeli society. As such, I cannot condemn the move to prevent goods made in the occupied Palestinian territory from being falsely classified as ‘Made in Israel.’ I support the South African government’s insistence on this distinction between Israel and its occupation,” Liel wrote. more