Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

ECONOMIC ACTIONS INCLUDING DIVESTMENT AS OBSTACLES TO THE ADVANCEMENT OF MIDDLE EAST PEACE§

Adopted by the 116th Annual Convention
of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Houston, TX
March, 2005

Background

The Reform rabbinate is deeply committed to supporting efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will fulfill the national aspirations of the both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples within the context of peaceful co-existence and mutual recognition. These efforts would allow both peoples to live in peace, dignity and security, relieved of the suffering of generations of violence. Difficult compromises will be required for both sides to come to mutual agreement.

We deeply deplore efforts that blame Israel for the failure of the peace process or that seek to use economic actions against Israel, including singling out for shareholder actions or divestment, companies working in Israel. These shareholder efforts are more likely to hinder rather than advance the peace process. Israel.s adversaries may interpret them as endorsing continuation of their strategies of rejectionism and terror. In addition, the one-sided nature of these actions undermines their  credibility. They resonate as discriminatory and conjure memories within the Jewish community of the anti-Israel boycott of past years.   They also raise an inescapable and repugnant association with anti-Apartheid activities, thereby creating the perception that the sponsoring entities seek to de-legitimize the very existence of the state of Israel. 

We note with pride the substantial role played by leaders of the Reform Movement in addressing these initiatives, both at the national level and within local communities. At the national level, following the distressing action of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on divestment, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Joint Commission on Interreligious Affairs have taken the lead in convening prominent interfaith leaders to convey our concerns and have provided helpful tools for local communities. Colleagues at the local level have reached out to clergy of different denominations to educate and sensitize them to our perspective on these troubling issues. These efforts have made a significant impact on the nature and course of the debate taking place in the interfaith arena.

Therefore be it resolved that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

  1. Affirm that:
    1. Economic actions aimed at companies working in Israel, including steps toward divestment, selective or otherwise, should be regarded with the utmost gravity.  Efforts to single Israel out for such actions, to the exclusion of other regions and nations, evidence a discriminatory double standard and pose a serious challenge to interfaith relations.  They polarize people and communities in such a way that the actions themselves, and not peace, become the central issue, making other, more constructive actions for peace less possible; 
    2. Economic actions aimed at companies working in Israel are counterproductive and support Palestinian intransigence by ignoring, and in effect rewarding, terrorism and failures to negotiate in good faith; 
    3. Economic actions targeting Israel are counterproductive because they will:
      1. adversely affect both the Palestinian and Israeli economies, which are intertwined, affecting not only Jewish Israelis, but also Israeli Arabs and other Palestinians;
      2. contribute to instability in the region; and
      3. detract from the goal of forming a lasting and solid peace based on co-existence, economic relations and trade as well as other needed aspects of normalization that are crucial to the building of that long dreamed-of peace; and
    4. Economic sanctions including divestment are not an appropriate way to address the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Those seeking to hasten peace should focus on efforts of reconciliation, including the many meaningful coexistence programs that are necessary to foster a generation of Israelis and Palestinians who will work and live side-by-side and move past the teaching of hate and the resort to violence.
  2. Call upon its members to:
    1. Actively engage religious, civic, labor, academic and other institutions to educate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to oppose the use of economic sanctions including shareholder actions and divestment as tools to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to support efforts to change such policies where they have been adopted;
    2. Educate, encourage and lead the Jewish community in engaging in dialogue within local communities with other faith and community groups to share each other.s "narratives" in order to build understanding, develop bridges of communication with those in a position to influence their own organizations. institutional policies and explain the counterproductive impact of divestment policies; and
    3. Support those voices within other constituencies who approach the issue of peace between Palestinians and Israel in a fair-minded manner, demonstrate an understanding of Israel.s need to protect her people from terrorism and all other forms of violence, and are willing to advocate for Israel.

§ Adapted from a resolution drafted for the Jewish Council on Public Affairs 2005 Plenum