The U.S. Episcopal Church, considering a review of investments in companies that do business with Israel. A church fact-finding team, who recently visited the West bank, came back deeply disturbed.
‘Israel has a right to defend itself. But it appears that, in the name of security, injustices are being done to the Palestinians that amount to collective punishment,’ said Jacqueline Scott, a member of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns.
The church investments committee is scheduled to issue a report to church leaders later this year.
U.S. Episcopal Church, with 2.3 million members, is the second U.S. based church to reconsider divestment from companies that do business with Israel. The Presbyterian Church, with 2.4 million members, also has a study under way that could lead to divestments.
The World Council of Churches, the main body uniting non-Catholic Christians, encouraged its members earlier this year to sell off investments in companies that make money from the Israeli occupation.
‘What the commission members found the most shocking of all was that the Wall or Separation Barrier or Fence, as it is variously called, is perceived by all parties as being almost entirely underwritten by the American taxpayer,’ said Michele Spike, another member of the commission.
The wall, which Israel said it had to erect as a security measure, ‘invades Palestinian fields, dividing grazing lands – including the valley of the shepherds at Bethlehem — and, at times, encircling Palestinian cities,’ she added.
Kim Byham, a member of the church’s Executive Council and that group’s liaison to the investments panel, said a period of ‘active engagement’ with targeted companies would come before any divestment.