Presbyterian Church Committee Seeks to Show Support for Palestine

09/20/2011 09:00

UCN:  A committee within the Louisville-based Presbyterian Church (USA) says the denomination should dump investments in three American companies it believes profit from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The committee says the companies -- Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard -- profit from Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

The divestment recommendation must be approved by the church's legislative General Assembly in 2012 to become policy.

A report from the denomination's Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment says Caterpillar produces bulldozers and Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions produce technology used to bolster the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and Jewish settlements on them.

Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan said the bulldozers are provided to Israel through the U.S. government-run Foreign Military Sales program.

"These products are being provided to Israel as part of a broader U.S. government policy," he said.

Motorola and Hewlett-Packard declined comment.

The committee said the companies have rebuffed seven years of efforts to persuade them to cut back on supplying activities that it said violated international law, The Courier-Journal reported (

"Sadly, our engagement with these companies has resulted in no significant progress, and we don't think it likely that it will do so in the future. We did what we could, but it didn't work," said the Rev. Brian Ellison, a Kansas City, Mo., pastor who heads the investment committee.

In 2004 a Presbyterian General Assembly recommended the start of a process to shed investments from Israel, but that caused an uproar among pro-Israel Jewish and Presbyterian groups, so the denomination abandoned the effort two years later. Still, the committee continued a dialogue with companies that it had identified as potential targets for divestment.

Matt Goldberg, community relations director of the Jewish Community of Louisville, said the church's recommendation does not "advance the cause of peace in the region."

"Israel's military actions are always defensive and preventive in nature" in response to "constant terrorist threat," Goldberg said.

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