The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is exploring opportunities for investing in “positive” endeavors in Israel-Palestine – a response to the action of the 2012 General Assembly, which opted for that approach rather than divesting in certain companies said to be involved in non-peaceful pursuits.
A small group of Presbyterian leaders traveled to Israel to investigate possibilities, including Matt Schramm, chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, and Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The group identified some possible investment directions, Schramm told the board’s executive committee April 10 – among them education, micro-finance and renewable energy.
The first intentional “positive” investments are expected to be made this summer, with up to $5 million being available, Schramm said ― although it’s not been determined exactly how much will be spent. Some investments likely would be with local entities in Israel and the West Bank; others through multinational companies doing work in the region. There also is discussion underway for a mechanism to allow congregations to participate in these investment opportunities.
Tom Taylor, who leads the Presbyterian Foundation, said he’s “jazzed” by the possibilities, but acknowledged there is some risk ― that “it’s a volatile part of the world.” The investments would come from funds designated for “creative investments,” in which some increased degree of risk already would be expected, Taylor said.