October 11, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC), which manages assets for U.S. Quakers, has divested from three companies due to concerns about ties with the Israeli military.
Last October, then clerk of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting Bill Riccobono wrote to FFC on behalf of the Meeting, asking them to avoid investments in specific companies that supported the Israeli military. Riccobono explained that investment of the Meeting’s funds with FFC placed it in violation of a minute approved in July 2011, which stated that the Meeting “joins with religious and civil society organizations throughout the world in a boycott of corporations that support the Israeli military.”
The companies Riccobono named for divestment were Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard and Veolia Environment, all cited on the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC's) “no buy” list.
Catherine Shaw, a clerk for the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting told PLANSPONSOR its assets remain with FFC which makes investment decisions guided by Society of Friends testimonies, including the Peace Testimony. According to data obtained from Shaw, “A Declaration to Charles II” in 1661 describes the Peace Testimony as: “We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world.”
After looking into the Meeting’s concerns, FFC sold its holdings in Caterpillar Inc. in April, basing its decision “on the peace testimony” of Friends regarding weapons—that Caterpillar “would neither confirm nor deny the extent or type of modifications to equipment sold to the Israeli military.”
A letter sent to the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting in September stated that FFC will shed the other two firms: Hewlett Packard because of “their IT consulting to the Israeli Navy” and Veolia due to “environmental and social concerns.”