Friday, February 10, 2006

MORAL DIVESTMENT

Oliver Kamm sets his sights on the Church of England over their one-sided divestment campaign against Israel:
Surveying a conflict that is neither simple nor clear, and that has defied diplomatic resolution for decades, the General Synod voted to sell the Church’s investments in companies whose products are used by Israel in the occupied territories. This policy will contribute nothing to a peace settlement, and have no impact on the companies’ share prices. Its sole lasting significance may lie in the lack of seriousness with which the Church’s pronouncements are received in future.

The model for the divestment campaign is the financial pressure exerted on apartheid South Africa. It is a pernicious precedent, for it implies a parallel between constitutionally mandated racial discrimination and a conflict of nationalisms. Both sets of national claims in the Holy Land are legitimate; both must coexist in any lasting territorial settlement.

The modern Church of England believes by contrast in penalising a state that faces enduring anti-Semitic campaigns of delegitimation, and whose civilians till recently contended with continual suicide bombings. The Church’s witness to our nation is not dead, but you might be better off seeking moral guidance from the next person you pass in the street.
I lost any faith I had in the Church of England last September, when they advocated apologising for the Iraq War, equated neoconservative foreign policy with terrorism and described "democracy as we have it in the West at the moment" as "deeply flawed."

Looks like I'm not the only one - from yesterday's Letters to the Editor in the Times:
From Lord Carey of Clifton

Sir, General Synod’s resolution calling for disinvestment from companies whose products are used by the Israeli Government (report, Feb 7) in the occupied territories, sadly, illustrates a propensity in the Church to reduce complex issues to black and white.

Here is the common ground I share with synod. We must all work to heal the divisions in our world and particularly in the Middle East. A crucial element in that is the creation of a viable Palestinian state, living side by side with the state of Israel, freely and peacefully.

With that goal, it is a “one eyed” strategy to rebuke one side sternly, and forget the traumas of ordinary Israelis who live in fear of suicide bombers and those whose policy it is to destroy all Jews.

A fully sighted strategy means transcending polarised politics and working and praying for peace that both Jews and Palestinians desire with all their hearts. Instead of punishing Israel by this kind of resolution, I would like to see synod directing the Commissioners to invest in Palestine, by seeking to create businesses as many are doing, including, yes, Jewish businesspeople.

With such a positive approach general synod would begin to look credible.

GEORGE CAREY
London SW1
Now I can't say I expected that. Well said, primate.

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