Liat Weingart

Speaking to the Presbyterians About Selective Divestment

On 8 February 2005, Jewish Voice for Peace Co-director Liat Weingart and Israeli human rights attorney Shamai Leibovitz spoke to an audience of members of the Presbyterian Church in Chicago. JVP was the first Jewish group to publicly support the Presbyterian Church’s decision to investigate selective divestment. “There is a silent majority of Jews in the US,” said Weingart, “who feel completely alienated from mainline Jewish groups because those groups are no longer in line with their central beliefs of justice and equality.” Read the transcript. 

The Wrath of the Jews

I’m in the living room of a family friend. The subject changes from yoga to Israel-Palestine, and I tell her that I think Americans need to change their foreign policy towards Israel. She says, “in what way, so that the Arabs will throw the Jews into the sea?” It takes four minutes of back and forth for the conversation to degenerate. She finally says, “Look, what I have to say isn’t pretty, but I’m not afraid. I’m going to say it anyways. The Palestinians are nothing but vermin. They make trouble in every country they live in. Even the other Arab countries don’t want them.” 

The Panic

We’re in a time of transition. Yasser Arafat died right after Kerry lost the presidential election. The opposition to the Presbyterian Church’s decision to investigate selective divestment from companies doing business with Israel’s occupation is growing. And support of them is growing. Meanwhile, Mustafa Barghouti has called for sanctions against Israel, and the Somerville, Mass. Board of Aldermen is debating divestment. It’s a time that calls for clearheadedness. New things are happening, and we need to be prepared to create new strategies. We need honor our despair and anger — they are the outward manifestation of our moral compass. 

Drawing Caterpillar Out Of Its Corporate Cocoon: Company Should Examine Its Role in Mideast Violence

On April 14, an American corporation was confronted with the choice of whether or not to examine their role in perpetuating the cycle of violence in the Mideast. An alliance of Catholic nuns and Jewish peace activists teamed up to introduce a shareholder resolution asking Caterpillar, Inc. to conduct an internal investigation to determine if the use of their bulldozers to violate human rights laws goes against corporate policies. In fact, it was the first time ever that a shareholder resolution relating to human rights violations in the occupied territories has been brought before a US corporation. Though the odds against the resolution were tremendous, it still garnered 4% of the vote, enough to be re-introduced next year.