I Wonder What Civil Libertarians Think of Us Now...
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October/November 2013, Pages 11, 45 Special Report NSA Not Only Spies on Americans, But…More...
Wedding dresses are displayed above stalls at a market in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Sept. 14, 2013.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October/November 2013, Pages 8-10 Special Report With Israel in Mind, U.S. Targets Syria as…More...
A young Palestinian waits to travel through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October/November 2013, Pages 18-20 Two Views Crossings—in Palestine and America Languishing in Limbo at…More...
Islam and the Near East in the Far East: Despite Its Rhetoric, Israel Would not Be Pleased With a Palestinian Mandela
On his first trip to a foreign country after being released from prison, South African anti-apartheid leader and African National Congress (ANC) member Nelson Mandela (l), in Zambia to attend a meeting of the ANC National Executive Committeee, warmly gree
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October/November 2013, Pages 21, 45 Islam and the Near East in the Far East…More...
(L-r) Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) amendment calling for a suspension of military aid to Egypt was opposed on behalf of AIPAC by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October/November 2013, Pages 28-29 What They Said Whatever AIPAC Wants: Senators Debate Suspending U.S. Military…More...
At a Sept. 1 ceremony in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (r) hands a decree to Marzieh Afkham appointing her Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the first woman ever to hold the position.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October/November 2013, Pages 26-27 Special Report Its Image Tarnished and Relevance in Arab World…More...
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 2012, Page 62
Presbyterian Church Votes to Boycott Ahava, Settlement Dates
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States tackled a number of issues related to the Israeli occupation of Palestine during its July meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. After a heated debate about whether the Church should divest from companies whose products are used to continue Israel's military occupation—namely Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard—the Assembly narrowly, by a vote of 333-331 with two abstentions, failed to pass the motion to divest from these companies.
The divestment motion was supported by Christians, Jews and others who believe that "nonviolent means such as divestment are an effective way to pressure the Israeli government into abiding by international law and respecting Palestinian human rights," said the Rev. Katherine Cunningham, vice-moderator of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network.
However, despite the narrow loss in the divestment motion, the General Assembly voted 457-189 on July 6 to boycott two Israeli products: Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories beauty products and dates grown in the Hadiklaim settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley.
The BDS movement dealt multiple major blows to Ahava this year, after Canadian retailer The Bay, Norwegian retailer VITA, and Japanese distributor DaitoCrea dropped the company in early 2012. In May, South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry mandated that Ahava remove all "Made in Israel" labels if it wished to sell its products in that country.
The Presbyterian Church's overwhelming vote against Ahava only adds to the momentum of holding the company accountable for its illegal activities, including the excavation of Dead Sea mud from occupied areas in the West Bank. According to a Who Profits study on the company, "Ahava's involvement in the occupation of the Palestinian territories includes the exploitation of the Palestinian people's natural resources." For more information visit <www.whoprofits.org/>.
The vote to boycott Hadiklaim Dates passed for similar reasons. Operating from settlements, these two companies epitomized the Presbyterian Church's issues with the settlement movement. According to Marilyn Daniel, an elder from Kentucky, the boycott was "a narrow and focused action which clearly states we are opposed to Israeli settlement on the West Bank. It is not a broad and general condemnation of Israel."
This would explain why the Assembly voted 463-175 against labeling Israeli occupation of the territories as "apartheid." However, despite narrowly voting against divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard, the Presbyterian Church maintains the goal for "significant progress" through its boycotting techniques. Rev. Jack Baca, moderator of the committee on Middle East Peacemaking, called the boycott "an attempt to communicate our hope for signs of progress and that the proposed boycott would be temporary." With close to two million members in the United States, perhaps the Presbyterian Church can help bring that hope to fruition.