Morally Responsible Investment in Israel and Palestine
“Because they lead my people astray, saying ‘Peace’ when there is no peace, and because when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore I tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall” Ezekiel 13:10-11
Read our guide on morally responsible investment and find out more about how we are encouraging UK churches to engage in this.
2017 marks several significant anniversaries in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, 70 years since the UN Partition Plan, 50 Years of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and 10 years of the Gaza blockade.
Over this time, the international community has continually failed its responsibility to both Israelis and Palestinians to help secure a just peace.
At the same time, the Church has failed to be a prophetic voice for justice in this conflict, and has chosen to remain either silent, or to apply ‘balance’. There is no balance when there is an oppressed, and an oppressor, and when Israel is the powerful actor with Western-backed support and the Palestinians are denied the right to self-determination and freedom.
The road to BDS
Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights, its continued policy of occupation in violation of international law, and the failure of governments’ to hold Israel to account on this has led to a global call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel’s occupation.
It is the right of every Palestinian to resist their situation non-violently. BDS is an exercise of that right, and a call for a global citizens’ response of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
The focus of much of BDS campaigning has been on targeting companies who profit from activities or services that support Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. This includes:
- Companies operating in settlements, supporting the settler infrastructure and economy.
- Those building and servicing the separation wall and its associated checkpoints,
- Companies providing security apparatus and services to Israeli prisons holding Palestinian prisoners,
- and companies which exploit Palestinian natural resources.
The BDS call from Palestine started in 2005 and there have been considerable campaign success in the last 10 years. Companies such as G4S, Veolia, and Sodastream have withdrawn from supporting the occupation due to pressure from campaigners and divestment from investors in their businesses.
BDS in our Churches: Promoting Morally Responsible Investment
“If your brother or sister is being injured by what you consume, you are no longer walking in love” Romans 14:15
The UK churches have a history of pursuing ethical investments with the national funds that they control. The exclusion of companies profiting from the sale of weapons, military equipment, tobacco, gambling, pornography and alcohol is commonplace. Policies also specify that their investments should not adversely affect the human rights of any people group.
However, to date, only the Methodist Church has an investment policy concerning companies operating in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (and this is a policy of corporate engagement which brings its own challenges). The lack of a policy, or investment screen, which would exclude companies profiting from occupation allows for potential investment in companies that directly profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights.
We are calling on our churches to:
Implement an investment screen relating specifically to activities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories,
Identify (using this screen) which companies in the current investment portfolio of the church are profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land,
Consider divesting from those companies, particularly where there is clear evidence that they are violating Palestinian rights,
Redefine corporate engagement to ensure that it is time-bound, objective and focussed on specific outcomes.
To find out more:
To join this campaign and find out what’s happening in your denomination please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some further sources of information on BDS and morally responsible investment:
‘Pursuing Justice’ – MRI Guide (PDF download)