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Putting the Frown on the Quaker Oats Man

"The Quaker divestment from firms doing business with Israel, unaccompanied by any interest in hateful violence that seeks Israel's destruction, reflects a long continuum of unwise political advocacy." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Quakers are reportedly divesting from two firms doing business with Israel. According to the Ann Arbor Michigan Friends Meeting and The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) is divesting from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Veolia Environment. The two groups cite HP providing technology consulting to the Israeli Navy, and "environmental and social concerns" with Veolia. Reportedly FFC has $250,000 in HP investments and $140,000 in Veolia.

Asked if he could verify the claims of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, Jeffery Perkins, Executive Director of FFC declined to comment on the matter, stating it was not within the organization's practice to make statements "when we buy, sell or screen securities in our portfolio."

The U.S. Campaign announced that it is "thrilled" that FFC was the "first U.S. national fund" to divest from those firms in reaction to demands from "Palestinian rights advocates."

There are about 80,000 Quakers in North America. The U.S. Campaign reports that the FFC manages portfolios for over 300 church related groups and $200 million in assets. Earlier this year FFC divested $900,000 in Caterpillar stock at the urging of the Ann Arbor group.

This summer, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and United Methodists all rejected anti-Israel divestment at their denominational governing conventions.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "With the Quaker decision to divest from firms doing business with Israel, maybe the famed smile of the Quaker Oats Man should now turn to a frown.

    "Has FFC punished any other regimes besides Israel with divestment? Would FFC avoid investment in firms with ties to Iran for example?

    "FFC's anti-Israel stance, uniquely targeting the Jewish nation, does not exemplify a global perspective on behalf of human rights for all. Instead it repeats the common refrain of the old Religious Left for the last nearly 50 years, obsessing over American and Israeli flaws while ignoring or making excuses for nearly everybody else.

    "The Quaker divestment from firms doing business with Israel, unaccompanied by any interest in hateful violence that seeks Israel's destruction, reflects a long continuum of unwise political advocacy."
 
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