Frequently Asked Questions

What are Israelis and Palestinians fighting over and what is the solution?
What is the Presbyterian Church doing about it?
What’s wrong with Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard?
Why divest?
But is it anti-Semitic?

What are Israelis and Palestinians fighting over and what is the solution?

Watch a 6-minute animated introduction that answers the question – what are Israelis and Palestinians fighting over and what is the solution? 

What is the Presbyterian Church doing about it?

The Presbyterian Church (USA) will decide this June respectively to divest from three companies that profit from the Israeli occupation: Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard. The Church will also decide whether to boycott Hewlett-Packard.

What’s wrong with Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard?

Caterpillar profits from the destruction of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of Palestinian orchards by supplying the armored-plated and weaponized bulldozers that are used for such demolition work. Bulldozers purchased with US taxpayer money and given to Israel are retrofitted with armor plating, machine guns, smoke projectors, and even grenade launchers. These machines are an essential part of the Israeli army’s arsenal, used to tear up roads, destroy water and sewage networks, and demolish villages and homes. For more information on Caterpillar, please go to Caterpillar’s egregious practices, Why Caterpillar?

Motorola Solutions profits from many aspects of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including developing at least four perimeter surveillance systems installed around dozens of Jewish-only settlements and military camps. Such infrastructure inside the occupied West Bank entrenches the occupation and solidifies military bases and illegal settlements as “facts on the ground.” It is OK to provide safety equipment. It is not OK to do for segregated communities on stolen land. For more information on Motorola Solutions, please go to Motorola Solutions’ egregious practices, Why Motorola Solutions?

Hewlett-Packard is responsible for a biometric ID system installed in Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank which deprive Palestinians of the freedom of movement in their own land and allows the Israeli military occupation to grant or deny special privileges to the civilians under its control. HP is also working with the Israeli government to manufacture and distribute a biometric ID system for all Israeli citizens, which categorizes citizens by their ethnic background and serves to discriminate against Arab citizens. Imagine a situation where your government-issued ID had a different color according to the ethnic group you belonged to. For more information on Hewlett-Packard, please go to Hewlett-Packard: Harming Peace, Hewlett-Packard’s egregious practices, Why Hewlett-Packard?

Why divest?

Here are a few reasons why:

1. Divestment is the right thing to do.

Divestment is an ethical, non-violent response to the daily violence of the Israeli occupation. Divesting from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard means saying no to home demolitions, to confiscation of land, and to segregated communities.

2. Divestment means putting words into action.

One whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom endures. But one whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, his wisdom does not endure. (Pirkei Avot 3:10)

The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation would finally align its own values and positions regarding Israel and Palestine with its pocketboks. Here’s an example: The church has long expressed its opposition to Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and yet, through its very own investments, the church is now profiting from companies that make these illegal segregated colonies possible.

3. Everything else has been tried by the churches and nothing has worked.

The Presbyterian churches has tried for ten long years to engage with the corporations in question, trying in vain to seek some assurance that their products would not be used to commit grave human rights abuses. Yet time and again they were ignored by these companies.

Here’s how the Presbyterian Church’s Mission Responsibility Throughout Investment Committee read the full report here):

“After years of corporate engagement through 2013 and utilizing all tools that we had available to us, these three companies remain entrenched in their involvement in non-peaceful pursuits, and regrettably show no signs of their behavior changing. If anything, since the 2012 General Assembly these companies have deepened their involvement with non-peaceful pursuits that make the General Assembly’s goal of a just peace even more remote.” (see full

Caterpillar‘s serious involvement in non­peaceful pursuits led the 219th General Assembly (2010) to denounce the company’s profiting from involvement in human rights violations. Sadly, despite significant support for the shareholder resolution calling for a review of its human rights policy, Caterpillar has become even more intransigent. It has cut off all communication with the religious shareholders. Caterpillar continues to accept no responsibility for the end use of their products.

Motorola Solutions has been unresponsive to all efforts by religious shareholders to engage in serious discussions about its involvement in non­peaceful pursuits. MRTI has concluded that there is no indication that the company’s position will change through continued corporate engagement.”

Hewlett-Packard “declines to engage the serious issues of its involvement in non­peaceful pursuits. It has never addressed the issue of how its human rights policy, about which the company is very proud, informs its decisions about its business with governments, especially governments involved in serious human rights violations. Contrary to the company’s stated policy of transparency in how it implements its human rights policies, no information is shared on its application to the numerous involvements in non­peaceful pursuits.”

4. Divestment has worked in the past.

Divestment works. We know as much from history. We remember with pride the previous times when individuals and institutions used either boycotts or divestments in order to end an injustice. Three examples are the Birmingham bus boycott, the California grape boycott, and the movement to boycott and divest from Apartheid in South Africa. In each case, those who had the privilege to buy or to invest made a conscious decision to use that privilege responsibly in order to say no to injustice, and these actions made all the difference in the world.

5. Divestment works today.

Divestment works in two levels. At the symbolic level, it raises awareness about the injustices of the Israeli occupation. At the”facts on the ground” level, economic pressure has already caused a few companies to relocate from the Occupied West Bank into Israel proper.

But is it anti-Semitic?

No, it’s not. Let’s be clear, these are not resolutions calling to divest from companies that do business with Jews. The resolutions call for divestment from companies that commit grave human rights violations.

We Jews care about human rights too. Suggesting that opposing human right violations is anti-Semitic is deeply offensive to the many Jews in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere who share a common yearning for justice and equality. You can listen to some of those Jewish voices here.