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DIVESTMENT TASK FORCE : Divestment Recommendations

United Methodists Called to Action

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Saturday 7 July 2007


Despite renewed talk of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the hard reality is that Israel’s actions on the ground in the region, as well as Palestinian militant attacks on Israelis, place enormous obstacles in the way of progress toward peace.

This month marks 40 years of Israel’s brutal and illegal occupation. Three generations of Palestinians have been denied their freedom.

The urgency of the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories cannot be overstated. Palestinians face soaring unemployment, malnutrition, restrictions on movement, denial of medical care, denial of access to their agricultural lands, humiliation at checkpoints, and extended lockdowns called curfews. More than 4 million Palestinian refugees live in poverty, while Israelis live in their homes and on their lands. Palestinians continue to alternate between often futile non-violent protest and unacceptable violent attacks on Israelis. Israeli soldiers have repeatedly fired on non-violent protesters, killing and wounding not only Palestinians, but international peace activists – including Americans – who have stood with them. In addition, volunteers with the Christian Peacemaker Teams in the West Bank have been attacked by Israeli settlers while escorting Palestinian children to school. Settlers have been involved in many acts of violence against Palestinians.

The occupation harms Israelis as well. The expense of wars and military occupation is draining the Israeli economy and having a negative effect on its society as a whole. Today, 1.6 million Israelis (nearly a quarter of the population) live in poverty(1).

United Methodists Called to Action

Our Christian faith calls us to reject violence of any kind, and to reject acts of aggression that provoke violence. As United Methodists, we are committed to work for justice, and to refuse to be complacent in the face of such monumental human suffering. We are also called to support other members of the Body of Christ around the world.

In 2005, the New England Annual Conference passed Resolution 204 with regard to divestment from companies supporting the Israeli occupation.

It is important to note that one key part of our resolution focused on the need for Jerusalem to remain an open city for people of all three faiths. We are committed to a shared Jerusalem, and are concerned that Israel’s actions continue to impede that goal.

Divestment Task Force Report and Recommendations

The Divestment Task Force was created to implement Resolution 204, which was passed by the 2005 New England Annual Conference (“RS-204: Resolution on Divesting from Companies that are Supporting in a Significant Way the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories”). The task force includes eight clergy and lay members representing four of the five states in the Conference.

Over the past two years, the task force has examined many companies to determine which ones support the Israeli occupation. The task force has compiled an initial list of twenty companies from which it is recommending that United Methodist churches and investment managers in the New England Conference divest. (click here to read about the process of the task force).

The Divestment Task Force recommends divestment from the list of companies included below. Reasons for the divestment recommendations are provided for each company, and those reasons are backed up with supporting documentation. Details are included in the complete report (click here).

ALLIANT TECH SYSTEMS (NYSE:ATK) is engaged with an Israeli company in the production of rubber-coated bullets. Such bullets are frequently used against Palestinians, as well as Israeli and international peace activists engaged in peaceful demonstrations to protest Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land. Rubber bullets often blind, disfigure or kill those who are hit by them. Alliant is also engaged in other contracts that support the Israeli military, which enforces the occupation. The company produces fuses for cluster bombs and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

BLOCKBUSTER (NYSE:BBI) has kiosks in illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. These settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Companies providing services to these settlements, which violate international law, contribute to their growth and appeal for Israelis. They make it harder to withdraw Israelis from the occupied territories, an essential step for any lasting peace agreement with Palestinians.

BOEING (NYSE:BA) has been a major supplier of the F-15 Eagle and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter to Israel. These aircraft have been used to attack Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, resulting in many civilian casualties. Boeing makes missile systems, F-15 software, Apache Helicopters, and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), a guided air-to-surface weapon.

CATERPILLAR (NYSE:CAT) supplies bulldozers to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The IDF uses these to destroy Palestinian homes, orchards and olive groves in the Occupied Territories. They are also used to clear Palestinian land for illegal Israeli settlements, segregated roads and the “Separation Barrier.” Despite years of corporate engagement by investors, Caterpillar is expanding its role in the occupation, recently announcing a joint venture with InRobTech to develop unmanned remote-controlled bulldozers for Israel.

CEMENT ROADSTONE HOLDINGS (CRH) (NYSE: CRH) is an Ireland-based multinational. CRH benefits from a monopoly on cement production within Israel through its 25% holding in the Israeli group Mashav Initiating and Development Ltd., which is the holding company for Nesher Cement. Nesher claims on its web site to be Israel’s sole producer of cement. Cement is being used in the construction of the Separation Wall inside the West Bank, which the International Court of Justice has ruled illegal. Cement is also used to build settlements on Palestinian land.

GENERAL DYNAMICS (NYSE:GD) Land Systems in the USA manufactures the GD 883 diesel engine for Israel’s Merkava 4 battle tanks. It has supplied about 1,000 M60A3 Main Battle Tanks to Israel. These tanks are frequently used against Palestinians in the occupied territories. It also produces equipment used on the F16 Fighting Falcon Jets sold to Israel. General Dynamics will be the general contractor for the production of 3,500 MK-84 "general purpose" bombs, spares and repair parts for Israel in a sale proposed by the Pentagon in April, 2007.

GENERAL ELECTRIC (NYSE:GE) supplies the propulsion system for Israel’s AH-64 Apache Assault Helicopter, which is used in Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns. It also possesses contracts with Israel to sell engines for a variety of military aircraft. In addition, GE possesses several Israeli service contracts for engineering support and testing.

GLOBECOMM SYSTEMS INC (GSI) (New York) (NASDAQ: GCOM) in partnership with Tadiran Spectralink of the Elisra Group (Israel), has a contract to supply the IDF with equipment and facilities for communication between all branches of the IDF ground forces. The system includes mobile stations installed on HMMWV vehicles. These vehicles are used by the IDF in the occupied territories.

ITT CORPORATION (NYSE:ITT) provides the Israeli Defense Forces with intensifier tubes for night vision goggles and has previously provided battlefield communication radios. Night vision goggles are used by pilots, co-pilots and crews of fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft, especially helicopter crews. They enable Israel to attack refugee camps and villages in the middle of the night, the time when many of these raids and assaults take place. Battlefield communication radios allow the military to communicate with troops over a secure channel.

LOCKHEED MARTIN (NYSE:LMT) is the single biggest overseas supplier for the Israeli armaments industry. It has received at least $4.4 billion since 1995 for supplying arms, including missile systems and fighter planes, to Israel. It has many ongoing contracts, including manufacturing F-16I fighter bombers used by the IDF against Palestinians. Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control in Orlando, Florida produces the Hellfire missile system for Apache attack helicopters used by Israel against Palestinians. According to a military trade publication, Israel’s main battle tank, the Merkava MK-4 is produced by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Group.

MAGAL SECURITY SYSTEMS (NASDAQ:MAGS) is an Israeli company that is providing intrusion detection fencing for the separation wall. It is listed in a government of Israel web site as one of the contractors engaged in the construction of the wall.

MOTOROLA (NYSE:MOT) is engaged in a 400 million NIS ($93 million) project to provide radar systems for enhancing security at illegal West Bank settlements deep inside Palestinian territory. Motorola also has a $90-million contract to provide the Israeli army with an advanced "Mountain Rose" cell phone communications system. Its wholly owned subsidiary in Israel has a contract to develop encrypted wireless communications featuring vehicle-mounted antenna that will enable military use in the occupied territories and other remote areas. Motorola has operations in the Jordan Valley on occupied land.

NORTHROP GRUMMAN (NYSE:NOC) collaborates with Lockheed Martin in producing the Israeli F-16I Sufa (‘Storm’) aircraft by providing the AN/APG-68 (V)9 multimode radar that provides for high-resolution ground mapping. With Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman also produces the Longbow System which, when installed in the Apache helicopter, greatly enhances the Apache’s lethality. The Longbow system includes fire control radar and the Hellfire Missile. In 2000 and 2001, Congress was notified of more than $500 million and $509 million respectively in pending Apache Longbow attack helicopter sales to Israel.

OSHKOSH TRUCK CORPORATION (NYSE:OSK) through contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, supplies mobility tactical trucks to the Israeli Military. These include cargo trucks with winches, wreckers and tractors. This type of equipment is used by the Israeli military in the occupied territories. Israel also has a $145 million contract with Oshkosh Truck Corp to build more than 900 armor kits for Israel’s Medium Tactical Vehicles.

RAYTHEON (NYSE:RTN) is a major arms contractor to the Israeli military. It supplies Patriot, Sparrow, Sidewinder, Maverick and TOW missiles. The Maverick is a precision, air-to-ground missile that is used against small mobile and hard targets. Missiles are frequently used against Palestinians in crowded residential areas such as refugee camps. They are also used in targeted assassinations of Palestinians without trial, evidence or the opportunity for defense.

SILICON GRAPHICS (SGI) (NASDAQ:SGIC) has a contract to provide Israeli Air Force F-15 pilots with visual system training. SGI’s system will also allow training for F-16 pilots using night vision goggles and sensors. An SGI graphics system serves as the image generator for the Israeli Air Force’s UH-60/CH-53 Helicopter Aircrew Weapon Systems Trainer. These aircraft have been used in attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territory.

TEREX (NYSE:TEX) subsidiary American Truck Company (ATC) signed a $54 million agreement to supply 302 medium tactical trucks and associated logistical support to the Israeli army. Terex also supplied TATRA trucks used by the Israeli army to mount artillery systems during the time it owned a controlling interest in that company. Terex owns Amida Industries, which manufactures mobile floodlight towers used by the Israeli Army in the Occupied Territories. It also owns Terex Demag Cranes which are leased in Israel through Riwal, the major crane supplier for Israel’s separation wall. Terex’s ATC still has a contract with the Israeli army for training, service and spare parts.

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES (NYSE:UTX) produces Blackhawk helicopters which are used by the Israeli military to attack Palestinian cities, refugee camps and villages. Many civilians have been killed in these attacks. On February 1, 2001, United Technologies Sikorsky Division announced a $211.8 million contract with the Israeli Air Force. United Technologies Pratt and Whitney Division produces engines for Israel’s F-15 and F-16 aircraft, which are used against Palestinians. In 2005, Israel awarded Pratt and Whitney a contract worth up to $600 million for fleet management of these engines over the next 10 years.

VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT (NYSE:VE) owns Connex. Connex is a central partner in a new $500 million light rail system designed to link Jerusalem to the illegal settlements of the occupied West Bank. It owns 5% of the consortium building the system and secured a contract to operate the system for the next 30 years.

VOLVO (NASDAQ:VOLV) bulldozers have been photographed and videotaped destroying Palestinian homes. They have also been used in Israel’s construction of the Separation Wall, which is on Palestinian land and has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. Mayers Cars and Trucks in Israel is a Volvo distributor, and according to Israeli sources is one of the main providers of construction equipment for the settlements and the wall.

Other Resources and Information


General Conference Resolution: Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land.

Full Divestment Task Force Report

Press Release Announcing Divestment Report & Recommendations

Companies Recommended for Divestment

Company Correspondence - Copies of communications with the companies recommended for divestment.

Supporting Statements from Jewish Organizations

Q&A from the Divestment Task Force

List of Organizations Deserving Support - An additional requirement of RS-204, this document references organizations the task force recommends that United Methodists support.

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This June marks 40 years of Israel’s brutal and illegal occupation. Three generations of Palestinians have been denied their freedom.

Christ has called us to be a light to the nations, to replace darkness and despair with hope rooted in love for all God’s creation. Refusing to be a part of an illegal occupation that endangers Israelis as well as Palestinians is an effective way to show our light to the world. We are joining many other groups around the world in opposing this human catastrophe. Our hope is to help bring it to an end.
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(1) New Israel Fund, September 5, 2006, from http://www.nif.org/content.cfm?id=2767&currBody=1