On Friday, a group of church elders and ministers voted 310-303 to pull financial investments from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions -- a total of about $21 million, according to reports.At least it was a close vote.
"It's so disgraceful," [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" news program. "Most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation."
He said that while much of the Middle East was "riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions," Israel is "the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians." Netanyahu advised the Presbyterians to "fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference."
"I would give them two pieces of advice -- one is make sure it's an armor-plated bus, and second, don't say that you're Christian."
In a statement ahead of the vote, Presbyterian Church USA had said it was considering divestment in Caterpillar because the company provides bulldozers "used in the destruction of Palestinian homes" to make way for Israeli settlements. Hewlett-Packard, it said, "provides electronic systems at checkpoints, logistics and communications systems to support the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, and has business relationships with illegal settlements in the West Bank." And Motorola Solutions "provides military communications and surveillance systems in the illegal Israeli settlements."
Forget that PCUSA would probably not dream of divesting itself of holdings in companies that do business with the Palestinians whose constant attempts at terrorism are the reason why the Israelis buy what Caterpillar and the others manufacture in the first place. Forget that Israel is in a struggle with Palestinian groups for the very survival of its people and its state and is nevertheless the most humane, civilized, liberal entity in the Middle East, and among the most humane in the world, conferring on Palestinians rights that Palestinians would never grant to Israelis. Set all that aside and ponder this question:
What's the point of trying to punish the Israelis by putting American workers' jobs at risk? By pulling their money out of these companies, they're doing, presumably what they wish everyone would do, and if everyone did it the companies would go out of business. The Presbyterians may as well have voted to tell the Israelis that they'll show how angry they are at them by making it more likely that Americans get laid off.
I guess that makes sense to somebody, but that somebody will have to explain it to me. Until then it certainly looks like this was either very poorly thought out or that the PCUSA simply wants to indulge in sanctimonious moral posturing.