Wednesday, 25 June 2014

In ‘turning-point’ vote, Presbyterians divest from occupation-linked corporations

Image of jumbo screen at Presbyterian assembly, by Jordan Tarwater

Nearly 30 years after it divested from corporations complicit in South African apartheid, the Presbyterian Church voted 310-303 to divest from three corporations involved with the Israeli military and its occupation. The vote means that $21 million of Presbyterian stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions will be divested.

The extraordinarily close vote (51% to 49% of delegates) came after an intense hours-long debate that featured emotional pleas on all sides.

“It hurts me to know that we invest in the tearing apart of Palestinian lives,” said Emma Warman, a youth delegate, before the vote took place. The advisory voters, including the youth delegates, overwhelmingly recommended a positive vote for divestment.

This close vote came two years after another close vote that went in the opposite direction. In 2012, the Presbyterian Church rejected divestment by just two votes.

“After a decade of corporate engagement with Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, these companies have failed to modify their behavior and continue to profit from Israeli human rights abuses and non-peaceful pursuits,” said Rev. Dr. Walt Davis in a statement released by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian group that supported divestment. “This is a historic vote and the culmination of a long and deliberate internal process within the church.” more

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