The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) has launched an Occupation-Free Fund as a part of its larger endowment campaign for donors who do not want to invest in companies that benefit from or enable the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel.
PPF is a national community of Presbyterians who follow the path of non-violence that Jesus set and work to reduce war and violence in the world. The Occupation-Free Fund was established last September at PPF’s national meeting. On May 28, the fund reached $150,000.
“The Occupation-Free Fund takes our social investment screen to a new level,” Rick Ufford-Chase, executive director of PPF, said. “In addition to non-investment in Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions, which are under consideration for General Assembly divestment, we worked hard to identify a partner who could assure our donors that our screen would also limit a larger range of other companies that support and profit from the occupation.” Ufford-Chase said in a press release.
The Occupation-Free Fund is managed by Just Money Advisors of Louisville; the New Covenant Trust Company at the Presbyterian Foundation manages the majority of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s Endowment Fund. Total funds under the investment have surpassed $550,000, with a goal of $700,000 by the end of this calendar year.
In January, PPF’s first Young Adult Delegation to Israel-Palestine met with Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American businessman. They spoke about the importance of a dual strategy for investors who are concerned about peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. A strategy of investment in Palestinian-owned businesses provides potential jobs to Palestinians and supports them to resist the occupation by helping them stay rooted in their own communities.
Bahour is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, citing it as a powerful, nonviolent strategy to pressure the State of Israel to actively dismantle the occupation. The group also met with Israeli citizens working to end the occupation, as well as Omar Barghouti, a leader in the Palestinian BDS Movement, who called on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to divest itself of stock companies related to the occupation.
“What we are asking for is hardly heroic,” Barghouti said in a press release. “We just want your church to stop paying our oppressors to oppress us.”
After their experiences with Israeli Jews, Palestinian Christians, Israeli Palestinians and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, the 28 members of the PPF delegation voted unanimously to support the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment’s call for GA divestment from the three corporations that strategically enable the occupation.
“This is us making a statement for ourselves and for the church,” said Fritz Gutwein, associate director of PPF. “We would really like to see the church [divest].”
At the June 18 Peace Breakfast at the 221st General Assembly in Detroit, Presbyterian poet Barrie Shepherd will present a check for approximately $25,000 from older generation PPF members to the emerging young adult constituency that will carry the organization into the future.