Anglican Communion May Divest from Israel

The 77-million member Anglican Communion may follow the direction of the 2.4 million member PCUSA in “divesting” from Israel as a means to help end violence and destruction in the Middle East
( [email protected] ) Sep 24, 2004 08:44 PM EDT

Anglican leaders from around the world joined in a chorus of criticism against the 4-uear-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to church officials on Thursday, Sept 23, several districts of the Anglican Church may withdraw investments from Israel in a form of “divestment” strategy to end the “draconian condition” imposed on the Palestinians.

The recommendation to “divest” came after 29 representatives from the world’s Anglicanism toured Israel and the West Bank this week.

Following the trip, the leaders said they were exposed "to the draconian conditions of the continuing occupation under which so many Palestinians live.” However, not all 29 representatives supported the “divestment” strategy to end the construction of the “separation barrier” between Israel and Palestine.

The divestment strategy, which takes capital out of a particular country of concern, had been implemented by churches earlier against South Africa to help end apartheid. Many Arabs and Palestinians support the “divestment” from Israel, suggesting it will be successful as was the case in South Africa.

However, many others have criticized the strategy as being biased; Israel began constructing the wall to prevent the entrance of the hoards of suicide-bomber Palestinians.

Several months earlier, the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) voted to divest its multi-million dollar investment portfolio out of Israel. Since the vote, the church received widespread criticism for meddling in politics without understanding the players. Because of the sensitivities involved in the issue, the denomination had not yet taken action, but has rather assigned a task force to specify which companies are causing the most damage.

The Anglican leaders’ decision will come during the meeting next year of the Anglican Consultative Council, the church’s ruling body.

To date, the church leaders from the United States, Australia and New Zealand, said Nancy Dinsmore, director of development for the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, support the divestment strategy.

Jenny Te Paa of New Zealand, who led the delegation, said the church had become increasingly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause recently, and the ruling council was likely to accept the idea of divestment.

Should such a strategy pass, Israel would be urged to withdrawal from Palestine areas captured in the 1967 Middle East war, and immediately halt the construction of the Separation Barrier between the two nations.

The group concluded: "it is the occupation in its many facets that foments the violence and fuels the conflict."