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January 10, 2019 9:20 am

Surprise! Another Church Group Fund Has Proscribed Pro-Israel Stocks

avatar by Dexter Van Zile

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A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Two weeks ago, The Algemeiner published an article I wrote highlighting the hypocrisy of the United Church of Christ (UCC).

In 2015, the denomination’s General Synod passed a resolution calling on church entities to divest themselves from companies that profit from the Israeli presence in the West Bank. As it turned out, the denomination’s pension fund, called the Pension Boards, still owns proscribed stocks named in the 2015 resolution.

It didn’t get much attention at the time, but that resolution passed by the UCC’s General Synod had two huge loopholes in it that were lost in the congratulatory fanfare about the resolution’s passage. First, it still allowed for UCC entities to own proscribed stocks, as long as they were lumped together with other securities (“comingled”) as part of an index or mutual fund. Given that a lot of Church investments are in mutual funds, that’s a pretty big loophole.

Second, and even more importantly, pension fund managers have a fiduciary responsibility to manage their funds based on risk and return — and nothing else. This is a legal obligation enshrined in federal law, and trumps any resolution affirmed by the attention-seeking, virtue-signaling junkies that attend the UCC’s General Synod.

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Debate over divestment resolutions gives delegates a chance to mug for the folks at home who are watching the proceedings on a live-feed, but as far as prohibiting pension managers from investing in proscribed stocks, it doesn’t happen.

As it turns out, there is yet another UCC institution that holds stocks that were proscribed by the 2015 General Synod vote on divestment. It’s called “United Church Funds,” and is used to manage endowments of local churches and other UCC institutions. According to the schedule of investments dated September 30, 2018, United Church Funds (which is worth more than $800 million) owns 32,000 shares of HP, a corporate descendant of Hewlett-Packard, which was proscribed by name in the 2015 divestment resolution, and which is still targeted for divestment by the Presbyterian Church USA.

At the end of June 2018, the fund owned 31,000 shares of HP. According to the September 30 schedule of investments, the fund’s 32,000 shares of HP are worth more than $800,000. (An inquiry into whether the fund still owns HP stock has gone unanswered. Go figure.)

The same September 30, 2018 schedule of investments also indicates that United Church Funds owns stock in at least two Israeli banks that operate in the West Bank — Bank Haopolim and Bank Leumi.

This is yet more proof that the 2015 divestment resolution had nothing to do with the good conscience of UCC members. It was all about using Israel as a scapegoat at the General Synod. It’s as if the denomination has a split personality. When it addresses issues related to the Jewish state, the denomination deals with the issues in a binary, black and white manner. Israel is the evil oppressor, the Palestinians are the innocent victims, and any facts that contradict this binary assessment are waved away.

Getting people to understand that Israel is struggling to achieve competing values — peace with the Palestinians (who have turned down numerous peace offers), while protecting its citizens from terrorism and murder — is impossible.

But when it comes to managing the UCC’s money, the binary thinking used to assess Israeli behavior is thrown out the window. When UCC money is at stake, notions of moral purity, which are invoked in such an ugly manner against Jews and their homeland, are dismissed as unworkable.

“Purity is not the goal,” United Church Funds tells us. UCC’s money managers struggle to pursue competing values and hope for the best. But no such graciousness is shown to the Israelis if they try to do the same thing when Jewish lives are at stake.

The reason is simple: The Jewish state is the emotional and spiritual scapegoat for the UCC (and other mainline churches).

It’s not about human rights. It’s not about peace. It’s not about justice. It’s about the Jews.

And just in case there’s any doubt about that last point, the denomination’s investment funds hold a number of stocks in companies such as Apple and Alphabet (which owns Google) that do business with China, which is currently running concentration camps for Muslims, demolishing Christian churches, and using the internet to spy on its citizens by linking search queries to people’s individual phone numbers.

You won’t find much outcry from the UCC about these violations of human rights.

Like I said — it’s about the Jews.

Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). His opinions are his own.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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