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Hold the presses! The Quakers are divesting from firms doing business with Israel. Maybe the famed smile of the Quaker Oats Man should now turn to a frown. Specifically the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) is divesting from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Veolia Environment. Ostensibly HP was guilty of providing technology consulting to the Israeli Navy, while Veolia was convicted for “environmental and social concerns.”
Naturally, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation gushed that it was “thrilled” that FFC was the “first U.S. national fund” to divest from those firms in reaction to demands from “Palestinian rights advocates.”
“Thrilled,” no doubt. Anti-Israel divestment advocacy has largely been a dud in the U.S. Just this Summer, three major denominations rejected divestment, though the Episcopalians, Presbyterians and United Methodists are all governed by elites who routinely condemn Israel (but not its foes). There are only about 80,000 Quakers in North America. Their spokespersons are heatedly anti-Israel. Quakers are traditionally pacifist of course. But Quaker ire does not typically focus on Hamas or Hezbollah terror, nor on the violent threats of Israel’s neighbors.
Reputedly FFC has $250,000 in HP investments and $140,000 in Veolia. According to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, HP “maintains a biometric ID system used in Israeli checkpoints for racial profiling; manages the Israeli Navy’s IT infrastructure; and supplies the Israeli army with other equipment and services used to maintain its military occupation.” The equally sinister Veolia is complicit in “a light rail linking illegal Israeli settlements with cities in Israel; it operates segregated bus lines through the occupied West Bank; and it operates a landfill and a waste water system that dumps Israeli waste on Palestinian land.”
The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation reports that the FFC manages portfolios for over 300 Quaker meetings, schools and other church related groups, with a total of $200 in assets. Earlier this year FFC divested $900,000 in Caterpillar stock at the urging of the Palestine Israel Action Group of Quakers in Ann Arbor, Michigan. FFC then explained it had a “zero tolerance for weapons and weapons components.”
Quakers of course are pacifist. So it’s not exceptional that they would divest from military related firms. But why cite Israel in this particular divestment? Caterpillar has sold its wares to the U.S. Defense Department for many decades. Presumably so too have HP and Veolia. Why not simply declare their actions to be anti-military as opposed to anti-Israel?
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