DISINVESTMENT from Caterpillar Inc, and other companies "profiting from the
illegal occupation" of Palestinian territories by Israel, was the subject of a
motion carried by the Synod when it debated ethical investment on Monday
The task of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), said John
Reynolds, its chairman, was to develop and co-ordinate the
ethical-investment policy for the three church investing bodies: the Church
Commissioners, the CBF Funds, and the Pensions Board. It had theological
understanding at the centre of its work, and sought to promote high standards
of corporate behaviour. A key part of the EIAG's role was to screen those
companies where investment must be inimical to the Church's mission.
Although the EIAG had a reputation for "banning" investments, in most cases
it was keen to engage in dialogue, which many companies welcomed.
Collectively, the Church's investing bodies were, he believed, the UK's
largest ethical investment fund. This gave the Church the unparalleled ability
to set the agenda.
Aiden Hargreaves-Smith (London) asked what advice the EIAG
had given the Church Commissioners in respect of their holdings in Anglo-Dutch
Shell, believed to be more than £65 million. Profits of the company had
exceeded £13 billion in 2003.
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Oxford) commended close contacts
with bishops and Churches in the regions affected by these ethical-investment
The Archdeacon of Worcester, the Ven. Joy Tetley, urged the
EIAG to consider ethical clothing.
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, urged
the group to go further in seeking out and commanding investment vehicles that
corresponded to the aspirations of a faith community. Six per cent of
investment capacity in the world was in the hands of religious bodies. He
suggested that the EIAG should look at renewable energy, and at environmental
areas such as reforestation.
The Archdeacon of Newark, the Ven. Nigel Peyton, suggested
that the group might look at the financial-services industry.
Mark Russell (Archbishops' Council) argued that investment
should protect vulnerable people, and he encouraged the EIAG to look again at
Caterpillar Inc. "Fifty-three tons of metal" heading towards a Palestinian
house was a weapon.
The Synod took note of the report.
It went on to debate a following motion, introduced by Keith
Malcouronne (Guildford). Caterpillar bulldozers had been used by the
Israeli military since 1967, but with "increasingly ruthless and devastating
effect". He also said that the EIAG should "keep watch" elsewhere, where
Caterpillar machinery had been used in the destruction of "illegal" homes in
Zimbabwe last year.
Dr John Dinnen (Hereford), a Northern Irishman, said that
he was "attuned to conflict", and that the bulldozers were "forms of weapons".
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, said
that the problem was not with Caterpillar, but with the government of Israel:
it was they who were demolishing houses. "We must tell our political leaders
that their prevarication about Israel is the reason why houses continue to be
The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Christopher Herbert,
chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, said that, because the
following motion did not mention the Jewish perspective, he didn't think it as
well balanced as it should be.
Nevertheless, the Synod carried the motion:
That this Synod:
(a) heed the call from our sister Church, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem
& the Middle East, for morally responsible investment in the Palestinian
occupied territories and, in particular, to disinvest from companies profiting
from the illegal occupation, such as Caterpillar Inc, until they change their
(b) encourage the Ethical Investment Advisory Group to follow up the
consultation referred to in its report (GS 1604) with intensive discussions
from Caterpillar Inc, with a view to withdrawing from supplying or maintaining
either equipment or parts for use by the state of Israel in demolishing
Palestinian homes, etc;
(c) in the light of the urgency of the situation, and the increased support
needed by Palestinian Christians, urge members of the EIAG to actively engage
with monitoring the effects of Caterpillar Inc's machinery in the Palestinian
occupied territories through visiting the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem &
the Middle East to learn of their concerns first-hand, and to see recent house
(d) urge the EIAG to give weight to the illegality under
international law of the activities in which Caterpillar Inc's equipment is
(e) urge the EIAG to respond to the monitoring visit and the further
discussions with Caterpillar Inc by updating its recommendations in the light