|A Caterpillar bulldozer clears the area where a smuggling border tunnel between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was targeted by an Israeli air strike at dawn in Rafah, southern Gaza, on July 14, 2011. |
(photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
By Asher Seiger
B’nai B’rith International and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) both released statements on Friday commending the decision by the Presbyterian Church (USA) that rejected a proposal to divest from three companies that do business with Israel.
The motion, which targeted Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Motorola, was defeated by the very slim margin of 333-331, with two abstentions.
In their statement, B’nai B’rith International praised the church for “resisting a formidable campaign for punitive, one-sided action” and for opting instead for “positive investment instead of divestment.” B’nai B’rith also expressed satisfaction that the church voted, by a much wider margin of 403-175, to reject labeling Israel’s presence in the West Bank as “apartheid.”
Both B’nai B’rith and the ADL expressed disappointment in the third motion at the Presbyterian General Assembly, which approved the boycott of all products made in the West Bank.
Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League said called it “deeply troubling that the divestment issue was decided on such a narrow vote, and the debate was biased from start to finish with vehement anti-Israel sentiment.” Nevertheless, Foxman also said that it is a “relief that the Presbyterian Church (USA) has once again defeated a counterproductive and biased resolution to divest from companies doing business with Israel.”
The Jerusalem-based research organization, NGO Monitor called the church’s decision a “moral vote” that “sends a strong message to the worldwide …political war against Israel.”
The American Jewish groups J Street and Americans for Peace Now also expressed satisfaction with the rejection of the divestment referendum. Rachel Lerner, the vice president of J Street’s education fund said that while her organization opposes Jewish settlement expansion, divestment is not the means that they support in reaching their goal.