FAQ#9: If divestment has failed at colleges and universities, has it been successful anywhere else?
In 2004, a number of Mainline Protestant churches (notably the Presbyterians and Methodists) passed resolutions calling for divestment of their retirement portfolios from stocks identified by BDS activists as supporting the Jewish state. In fact, the success divestment had in penetrating major churches was the anchor for the BDS movement between 2004 and 2006.
As with universities, however, support for divestment in the churches turned out to be extremely shallow. While some church leaders supported divestment (as did a few regional churches, like the New England Methodists), the rank and file categorically rejected divestment calls, voting down divestment by margins of 95%-5% (the Presbyterians) or unanimously (the Methodists) in 2006 and reaffirming those decisions in 2008.
During this period, divestment was also attempted in some US cities (notably Somerville, Massachusetts and Seattle, Washington), but lost badly in both places. The same bait-and-switch tactics that played themselves out on campus were also tried at other institutions, but ultimately good sense prevailed and divestment was rejected.