The largest U.S. Presbyterian church narrowly voted Friday to divest from three multinational corporations that it said supply Israel with products that promote violence in occupied Palestinian territories.
The divestment, vehemently opposed by many of the nation's prominent Jewish organizations, and hailed by many pro-Palestinian activists, passed by seven votes after hours of tense and complex debate. It means the Presbyterian Church (USA) will sell its shares of Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard, worth about $21 million.
The vote at the church's biennial General Assembly, meeting this week in Detroit, was 310 to 303. It makes the 1.76-million member church the largest religious group to vote for divestment, an issue that has been fiercely debated in recent years among mainline Protestants. The Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America both have rejected divestment. Presbyterians have discussed divestment for a decade, and a similar vote was narrowly defeated two years ago at the last church assembly.
There was an audible gasp on the floor in at the COBO Center in downtown Detroit after the motion passed. "In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters," Heath Rada, the church assembly's moderator, told the assembly afterwards.
But opponents described it as exactly that.
For more on the topic of BDS (Boycotts, Sanctions and Divestments) please go to the links below: