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Fearing divestment from Israel, Jewish orgs oppose divestment to halt global warming

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Richard Foltin

Richard Foltin

This is priceless, and reads like parody. “Jewish Groups Push Back in Fight for Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies; Fear Tactic Could Be Used in Israel Debate.” Great reporting by Hody Nemes and Nathan Guttman at the Forward.

Global warming? Chopped liver. Iran’s more of a problem.

[I]n interviews with the Forward, Jewish institutional leaders saw the issue as secondary to other global and social issues.

“We should be thinking of divestment only in terms of very extreme threats of the kind that Iran poses,” said Richard Foltin, director of national and legislative affairs at the American Jewish Committee. Foltin was referring to mainstream Jewish communal support for divestment from companies doing business with Iran, whose development of its nuclear capabilities is viewed as a cover for developing nuclear weapons that would pose an existential threat to Israel.

Reality check from the youth:

Kara Kaufman, a 2012 graduate of Brown University and committed climate activist, sees this perspective as one bound to alienate younger Jews…

What’s the big fear? That divestment would be legitimized as a tool, and would be turned on Israel. BDS really is marching.

Jews urging such a move [divesting from fossil fuel companies] on national organizations face a formidable hurdle: the fear of legitimizing divestment as a tactic, considering its use by pro-Palestinian groups against Israel.

In 2003, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an important mainstream Jewish umbrella group, adopted guidelines for judging boycott or divestment initiatives that urged avoiding them in most cases. The guidelines, which are still viewed as the communal standard for judging these initiatives, recommend avoiding boycotts, divestment and economic sanctions because such measures could “deny the Jewish community the higher moral ground in opposing boycotts against Israel or Jewish interests.”…

Nemes and Guttman notice the hypocrisy:

In the past, however, the Jewish community did not hesitate to use these very same investments as a tool to advance communal goals. Groups stood behind legislation imposing trade restrictions on the Soviet Union until Jews were allowed to leave the country; some supported counter-boycotts against companies that adhered to the Arab boycott against Israel and, more recently, Jewish groups led calls to divest from Sudan because of genocide the Khartoum government was accused of committing in the country’s Darfur region. Most noticeable today, however, is the campaign supported by a wall-to-wall coalition of Jewish groups to divest American funds from Iran.

The difference this time?

Some groups argue that fossil fuel is not a clear-cut case compared to previous campaigns and that chances of it succeeding in bringing down carbon-emitting fuel companies are, at best, slim. But the concern about legitimizing the use of divestment, one of the three pillars of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement targeted at Israel in recent years, is ever-present.

That association got some traction recently during a debate over fossil fuel divestment at Swarthmore College. “Last year, there was a lot of agitation for companies to support Palestine and stop investing in companies having to do with Israel,” Swarthmore board chairman Giles Kemp told The New York Times, explaining one factor in his school’s rejection of the tactic. “Those students were as fervent in their cause as these students are in theirs.”

So the planet can go down the tube. Again we see how corrupting Zionism is, destroying Jewish activism on a central issue for the human species:

JCPA [Jewish Council for Public Affairs] also operates the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, but the council has yet to adopt a policy on fossil fuel divestment.

Jared Feldman, the council’s Washington director, expressed skepticism on the tactic’s efficacy. “Instead of talking about divestment, we should see how we can support development of alternative energy sources,” Feldman said.

I don’t know what to say. But this wasn’t in the Onion.


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13 Responses

  1. LeaNder
    LeaNder on May 24, 2014, 11:22 am

    Annie, have you noticed Soros bought up Soda Stream shares. Now strictly I wouldn’t have expected Soros in that context. Now since this is an unexpected name in the context, I am slightly wondering. But maybe his investment crew decided for him, based on “undervalued”.

    Last c0mment for some days, I have something else to do now.

  2. Donald
    Donald on May 24, 2014, 11:43 am

    Perhaps we can encourage dialogue between the oil companies and dead sea birds. Ultimately, the only path towards global sustainability must be through negotiations with Exon and British Petroleum.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid on May 24, 2014, 1:06 pm

    This really shows up the bots as a fringe group in the big picture. They are like well organised pilot fish who consider themselves equivalent to sharks.

  4. ritzl
    ritzl on May 24, 2014, 1:35 pm

    And the “Jewish Orgs” would be right in their fear. This would entrain the Palestinian call for BDS. But do these orgs want a world where doing the right thing is not an option, at least from a Jewish perspective? Hmm. Decisions, decisions…

    Agree that this is just another corruption brought about by Zionism, but it’s also a sign of growing body of evidence that the groaning Zionist submarine is below 3000 feet and descending.


  5. Dan Fischer
    Dan Fischer on May 24, 2014, 3:36 pm

    Zionist leaders’ support for fossil fuels follows their movement’s long pattern of siding with the interests of energy imperialists. I wrote an article about it for the Palestine Chronicle last December: “Zionism In Service of Fossil Fuel Extraction”

  6. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride on May 24, 2014, 3:42 pm

    Reducing politics to the narrow pursuit of tribal self-interest is guaranteed to alienate most tribal outsiders. Most of us try to rise to a higher plane in thinking about the world’s problems.

  7. Citizen
    Citizen on May 24, 2014, 4:56 pm

    The Jewish Zionists are paid for by the real or nominally Christian Zionists. I can’t conceive of anything dummer. Let’s watch the dumb pope deal with this now.

    • just
      just on May 24, 2014, 6:21 pm

      Why do you deride this Pope, Citizen?

      It doesn’t suit you very well, imho.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on May 24, 2014, 9:44 pm

    RE: Fearing divestment from Israel, Jewish orgs oppose divestment to halt global warming

    MY COMMENT: Perhaps these Jewish organizations have looked at the best models for climate change, and despite the uncertainties such models contain, they feel Israel will be able to mitigate the impact of climate change enough so that it will not be hurt too badly. And, if worse comes to worse, most Israelis have second passports so that they will be able to escape to another country.

    • seafoid
      seafoid on May 25, 2014, 1:36 am

      Climate change won’t affect Israel because of Jewish exceptionalism.

  9. Shmuel
    Shmuel on May 25, 2014, 5:10 am

    Jewish orgs oppose divestment to halt global warming

    ADL: Polar bears most anti-Semitic group on earth.

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