ZOA Condemns Church Of England Decision To Divest From Companies Whose Products Are Used By Israel In Judea & Samaria
February 9, 2006

New York – The ZOA has condemned the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England to back a call from the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East for divesting from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the Judea and Samaria, such as Caterpillar Inc. Caterpillar, a US company, manufactures bulldozers used by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Church Commissioners have £2.2 million holdings in Caterpillar.

The motion was passed overwhelmingly, in spite of protest from leading members of Britain’s Jewish community, concerned that Israel’s right to protect itself from suicide bombers and other Palestinian terror attacks should not be compromised. No time was devoted to debating an amending motion put forward by Anglicans for Israel, a pro-Israel group. The divestment motion came from Keith Malcouronne, a lay member from the Guildford diocese, who urged the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, the body which resisted recent pressure from pro-Palestinian campaigning bodies, to divest from Caterpillar” (Times (London), February 8).

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who has not so far commented on the recent Palestinian election victory of Hamas, an organization committed to destroying the state of Israel and murdering Jews, backed the vote to divest. In contrast, his predecessor, Lord Carey of Clifton, has said that the decision is “one-eyed,” “a most regrettable and one-sided statement” that “ignores the trauma of ordinary Jewish people,” displays the Church’s “propensity to reduce complex issues to black and white” and makes him “ashamed to be an Anglican” (Jerusalem Post, February 8).

John Benjamin, who heads an umbrella organization for British Jews, said, “we are worried by the way the General Synod adopted the resolution, without conducting a serious debate and without discussing alternatives to the boycott weapon” (Haaretz, February 8). Dr. Irene Lancaster, of the Center for Jewish Studies at Manchester University, said the vote marked “a very black day for Anglican-Jewish relations … The Jewish community will have to reconsider their attitude to interfaith work with the Anglican community …The writing is on the wall for the Jews of Great Britain, 350 years after they settled here” (Jerusalem Post, February 8).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This is an outrageous decision that does the Church of England no credit. By punishing Israel, the victim of violence, rather than the aggressor, the Palestinians, the Church’s call for economic pressure on Israel is wrong, inappropriate and immoral. That it can pass this unprincipled resolution so soon after the victory in Palestinian elections of the terrorist group Hamas, whose Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews — a turn of events on which the Archbishop of Canterbury has as yet said nothing — only shows how removed from reality and blind to the true situation on the ground the supporters of this decision are.

“It is remarkable that the Church of England is willing to punish the Jews of Israel, who are murdered routinely by Palestinian terrorists and who have given territory to the Palestinians, with promises of more, as well as jobs and money, only to get more terrorism in return. If the Church of England wants to take a moral stance, it should be boycotting and punishing the PA which has refused to disarm terrorists and confiscate their weaponry while permitting incitement to hatred and murder in Palestinian society that feeds it. The PA is guilty of child abuse in promoting the glorification of suicide terrorism to impressionable Palestinian youth and in celebrating terrorism by naming schools, colleges and streets after suicide bombers. This is clearly a vile regime, but there is no Church of England boycott of it, just as the Church has not called for divestment from China, which has murderously occupied Tibet for over four decades.

“It should be perfectly clear that if Palestinians were not killing and attempting to kill Jews every day, there would not be a single bullet being fired from an Israeli gun. Israeli measures are a legitimate and necessary response to terrorism. To attempt to impede the effectiveness of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to save the lives of Jews, Christians and Muslims in Israel is simply immoral and to claim that Israel is an “illegal occupier” is simply a lie.”

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