Citing an 85 percent increase in racial discrimination complaints in Israel according to a recent report by Israel’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Father Sean McManus, the head of the Holy Land Principles, urged GE Israel, one of the largest employers there, to adhere to workforce principles of fairness.
By Managing Editor
The giant American corporation GE has an important role to play in combating discrimination against religious and racial minorities in Palestine and Israel by setting an example for its own workplaces there, the Catholic priest who leads the Holy Land Principles campaign said today.
A new report by Israel’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes an 85% rise in complaints of racial discrimination in that country’s overall work force. GE, with its global headquarters in Fairfield, CT, has 450 or more employees in Palestine – Israel. The company has played an important role in building the basic energy infrastructure since located there in the 1950s as one of the first international companies to establish a presence in the region.
“As one of the largest American companies operating in the Holy Land, it is incumbent upon GE to set a positive example by adopting and practicing the fair employment practices delineated in the Holy Land Principles resolution that will be offered at the company’s shareholder’s meeting in Oklahoma City April 22,” said Father Sean McManus of Washington, D.C.
“The Holy Land Principles do not call for disinvestment, divestment, reverse discrimination or quotas — only American fairness. The Principles are modeled on the MacBride Principles, universally regarded as the most effective campaign ever against anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland. The Principles are pro-Jewish, pro-Palestinian and pro-company,” Father McManus said.
Earlier this year, GE tried to have the SEC exclude the Resolution, arguing:
“The [the Holy Land Principles] Proposal requires the Company’s board of directors to make all possible lawful efforts to implement the Holy Land Principles, including a principle, outlined in paragraph 7 of the Proposal, not to ‘accept subsidies, tax incentives or other benefits that lead to the direct advantage of one national, racial, ethnic or religious group over another. [Principle # 7]… As a result, by seeking to address the Company’s evaluation of subsidies, tax incentives or other benefits, the Proposal interferes with the Company’s ordinary business…”
The SEC rejected this argument on February 10, 2015, ruling in favor of the Holy Land Principles, Inc. and declaring that the Resolution could not be excluded.
GE operates nine research and development centers in Israel, with its country headquarters in Tel Aviv.
The Israeli government’s March 3rd report on discrimination documented a 17 percent increase in religious discrimination complaints over the previous year. A poll by that agency in 2013 of Hebrew-speaking employers across the region found that 42 percent preferred not to hire Arab men and 37 percent preferred not to hire Orthodox Jewish Haredi men.
The Holy Land Principles campaign seeks to persuade the 546 U.S. companies in the Holy Land to sign the Principles. They sign by agreeing in writing ‘to make all lawful efforts to implement the Fair Employment Practices embodied in the Holy Land Principles in their operations in The Holy Land’—the precise language used by companies signing the MacBride Principles for Northern Ireland.
About Father Sean McManus and The Holy Land Principles:
Father McManus is the president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus and played a leadership role in getting American companies to adopt the MacBride Principles. He is mobilizing Irish-America, Arab American and other faith and social justice communities in the U.S. and elsewhere to ask GE to adopt the Holy Land Principles. The campaign this year also is targeting shareholders of Intel, Corning and Cisco, companies that also have a significant presence in Palestine – Israel. For more about Father McManus and The Holy Land Principles go to http://www.holylandprinciples.org/about-hlp/