Friday, July 6, 2012

Shedding Divestments

Mainline churches invest billions on behalf of their retired employees. Should they punish Israel for its occupation of the West Bank by selling stock in companies that do business in Israel or are accused of de facto support for the occupation? The Episcopal Church considers the question at its triennial General Convention this week and next in Indianapolis. Our bishop in Los Angeles, Jon Bruno, opposes divestment and boycotts, as does Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. From Indianapolis, Matthew Davies surveys all the pending proposals for the Episcopal News Service:

Jefferts Schori visited Israel and the West Bank in 2008. Asked about divestment, she told ENS in a recent interview that the Christian tradition “generally has not been to shun people. It has been to call people to greater engagement … and relationship, and I think that is especially needed in the land of the Holy One right now.”

During an Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles gathering in March, Jefferts Schori urged Episcopalians to “invest in legitimate development in Palestine’s West Bank and in Gaza” rather than focus on divestment or boycotts of Israel.

If people have particular concerns about corporations’ policies, she told ENS, “then positive engagement would mean to become a shareholder and go to a shareholders meeting and challenge the administration of the corporation. It’s a positive response rather than a negative one.”

By a narrow margin, our Presbyterian brothers and sisters said no to divestment yesterday at their biennial meeting in Pittsburgh.

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