Instead, the Ann Arbor Quakers thanked FFC for the Caterpillar divestment by declaring: “We ask Friends and people of faith everywhere to join us in expressing thanks to FFC and asking them to continue divesting from all companies that are helping to sustain the Israeli occupation.” Interesting. Has FFC punished any other regimes besides Israel with divestment? A search of its website and a general Google search indicate no. Would FFC avoid investment in firms with ties to Iran for example? There’s no direct answer on the FFC website. But the Palestine Israel Action Group of the Ann Arbor Quakers recently posted a website article claiming that “Iran has never threatened to destroy Israel,” and complaining that “this false claim is repeated in the U.S. media by everyone from Fox News to PBS.” The article denies that Iran is developing nuclear weapons but then claims Iran has a “no first strike” policy anyway, so no worry. And it complains about Israel’s nukes, which of course are the real threat. Likely the Ann Arbor Quakers reflect overall opinions among hardcore Quaker so-called peace activists, who seem to have a very truncated definition of peace.
FFC professes to seek investments in accordance with “Quaker testimonies and values.” Presumably these values include peaceful good will toward all and affirmation of universal human dignity. But the 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 American Friends Service Committee has long been the main organized Quaker political voice. Its leaders characteristically dined with visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York in 2008. If the repast were accompanied by vigorous denunciation of the Iranian madman’s apocalyptic visions, perhaps they would be defensible. But there’s no record of any meaningful criticism or concern. The group’s record was similar through the final decades of the Cold War, urging accommodation of the Soviet Union, while actively supporting Marxist revolutionary movements around the world. There was no comprehensive advocacy of human rights for all, just mostly animosity for the United States and Western democracy, expressed as support for “peace.”
No doubt most local Quakers are nice people not directly responsible for the political irresponsibility of their purported spokespersons. But 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 un-Christian and unwise political advocacy.
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