By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) vote to divest from some Israeli holdings may be a largely symbolic measure by a denomination rapidly losing its symbolic weight.
The PC(USA) voted to divest from three companies—Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions—that provide equipment Israel uses to raze houses, operate checkpoints and communicate in the occupied West Bank, the Associated Press (AP) reports. The decision makes the denomination one of the few in the U.S. advocating financial divestment as a peace strategy, but the denomination’s shrinking membership and limited financial stake in the decision led some to question the symbolic power of the move.
The proposal, which originally called for the denomination to “Reject any proposed divestment and economic sanctions against the state of Israel or any application of the PC(USA)’s corporate engagement policies toward such ends,” flipped in its final version to “Instruct the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions of the PC(USA), to divest from Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, in accord with our church’s decades-long socially responsible investment (SRI) history.”
The general assembly voted to disapprove a related measure calling for a boycott of all Hewlett-Packard products.