by Associated Press | Haaretz | October 20, 2005
Evangelical Christians on Thursday criticized efforts by some Christian groups to divest from companies associated with Israel and said they planned to counter with a campaign of their own to create partnerships between Israel and international businesses.
Several Protestant groups - including the Presbyterian Church (USA) - have looked into selling stock in companies that profit from Israeli policy in the territories.
Companies targeted by the Presbyterian Church include Caterpillar Inc.; ITT Industries Inc.; Motorola Inc.; and United Technologies Corp. The Presbyterians accused them of selling products such as night vision equipment, wireless communications and helicopters that the Israeli military uses to hurt Palestinians and bolster control of the territories.
The International Christian Embassy, a Jerusalem-based Evangelical organization, said Thursday it was launching a campaign against the divestment moves. The Evangelical groups represented at a news conference Thursday did not provide details about their plans to bring new investment to Israel.
Dale Neill, president of the International Christian Chamber of Commerce, said his organization was looking to build a permanent office in Jerusalem to become more involved in the Israeli economy.
"We have come to understand that commerce is the lifeblood of any nation," Neill said. " One of the things that needs to happen - and we're very actively working on ways to enhance or enable that to happen - is it needs to be easier for small investors ... to get that money into the nation and the economy."
Neill said that while his organization was actively seeking new companies to invest in Israel, he was not prepared to name specific businesses that had agreed to participate in the investment initiative.
The news conference was part of the Christian Embassy's annual Feast of the Tabernacles celebration, which draws an estimated 5,000 visitors and US$15 million into Israel.