Vive Le Canada

U.S. clergy warn about divesting in Israel
Date: Monday, October 31 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005 Last updated 5:31 p.m. PT

U.S. clergy warn about divesting in Israel


TORONTO -- Several U.S. Christian clergy joined Jewish leaders in Canada Thursday to protest a growing effort by some U.S. Protestant leaders to divest in companies they believe profit from Israeli control of the Palestinian territories.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) in August accused several large American companies of contributing to the suffering of Palestinians by selling products such as night vision goggles and helicopters used by the Israeli military in the Palestinian territories.

They passed a resolution pledging to use the church's multimillion-dollar stock holdings against companies profiting from Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza. The Jersusalem-based Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center is spearheading the divestment movement and holding a conference in Toronto this week.

The movement has outraged Jewish groups, who say the strategy is biased, anti-Semitic and fails to recognize Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist attacks by Palestinian extremists.

"This is blatant propaganda that seeks to isolate and demonize Israel," Ruth Klein, of B'Nai Brith Canada, told a news conference.

She said the disinvestment movement, continued suicide bombings against Israelis and comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday - in which he said Israel must be "wiped off the map" - were sending fresh chills of fear through Jewish communities worldwide.

Sister Ruth Lautt, national director of the U.S. Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East, called on Canadian denominations to be wary of Sabeel.

She was joined by the Rev. William Harter, a founding member of five Christian-Jewish initiatives in the United States and the Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, chair of the Episcopal-Jewish relations committee in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

The Sabeel group, which promotes "morally responsible investment" in Israel as a way to end the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is meeting with Canadian church leaders and private groups to discuss the Mideast and the divestment issue.

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Friends of Sabeel Canada:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): http://seattlepi.nwsour...

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