Other Group

The Holy Land Principles

Holy Land Principles is an organization that files shareholder resolutions pushing a series of principles holding companies that operate in Israel and the disputed Palestinian territories to a stricter standard than Israeli employment and equal opportunity laws.

Pro-Israel critics of Holy Land Principles argue that the Principles sympathize with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to delegitimize Israel. [1]

Background

The Holy Land Principles are eight guidelines calling for companies operating in Israel the Palestinian territories to adhere to employment practices in all areas without discrimination; to recruit underrepresented employee groups; to work with government and community authorities to eliminate racial and religious disparities in government spending on education, training and access to health care and housing. [2]

The organization contends it is not asking companies to take sides in the struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians, nor asking companies to be involved in politics;[3] critics have alleged that the principles amount to support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to delegitimize Israel. [4]

Holy Land Principle press releases and its Facebook page from 2014 through 2016 refer to holylandprinciples.org, but the link and web address were not up as of September 2020. The last posting on the group’s Facebook page was in 2016. [5]

History

Sean McManus, a Catholic priest and the president of Holy Land Principles Inc., developed the principles in 2014 for companies to adopt. McManus based the principles on the 1984 Mac Bride Principles he developed that many U.S. businesses adopted to prevent discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland. McManus is also the president of the Irish National Caucus. [6]

The Mac Bride Principles were actually based on the Sullivan Principles that were aimed to counter racial discrimination in South Africa. [7]

Corporate Reaction

From 2014 to 2016, the Holy Land Principles resolutions were presented at shareholder meetings for at least nine major businesses. In each case, the resolutions were defeated. Holy Land Principles resolutions targeted Cisco, Coca Cola, FedEx, General Electric, General Motors, Intel, McDonald’s, Pepsi, and UPS. [8]

Intel, GE, and Corning initially asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to block the resolutions from being presented and voted on by shareholders. In February 2015, the SEC rejected the arguments by Intel, GE and Corning that the Holy Land Principles could not be presented at their shareholder meetings. [9]

Intel and GE argued that the Holy Land Principles resolution could be excluded because “by seeking to address the Company’s evaluation of subsidies, tax incentives or other benefits, the Proposal [to include the Principles] interferes with the Company’s ordinary business.” The SEC ruled “we do not believe that Intel may omit the proposal from its proxy materials” on that basis. [10]

Corning argued the guidelines were already in place. But the SEC ruled, “Based on the information you have presented, it appears that Corning’s policies, practices and procedures do not compare favorably with the guidelines of the [Holy Land Principles] proposal and that Corning has not, therefore, substantially implemented the proposal.” [11]

Criticisms

At the 2015 Intel shareholder meeting, two people reportedly said that McManus’ speech was and “anti-Semitic screed.” [12] At the 2015 Cisco meeting, a critic said the shareholder proposal was anti-Israel and opposed the U.S. government. [13]

The Zionist Organization of America, a right-leaning pro-Israel group, praised Marriott board members for opposing a Holy Land Principles resolution, alleging that Holy Land Principles was “apparently a front organization allied with the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (“BDS”) movement.” [14]

The American Friends Service Committee, a left-progressive Quaker group that has endorsed BDS,[15] accused the principles of “falling short” and not going far enough. The AFSC claims the Holy Land Principles sets voluntary guidelines below regulatory framework and is “too limited in scope and too vague to support a change of corporate policies.” [16]

References

  1. Zionist Organization of America. “ZOA Urges Marriott Stockholders: Vote Against Anti-Israel ‘Holy Land Principles’ Resolution,” April 19, 2017. https://zoa.org/2017/04/10359881-zoa-urges-marriott-stockholders-vote-against-anti-israel-holy-land-principles-resolution/. ^
  2. Magliano, Tony. “Longing for Christmas Peace in the Holy Land.” National Catholic Reporter. December 23, 2016. Accessed September 12, 2020. https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/making-difference/longing-christmas-peace-holy-land ^
  3. Press Release. “Holy Land Principles: American Principles Following American Investment.” Corporate Responsibility Newswire. February 24, 2015. https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/37712-Holy-Land-Principles-American-Principles-Following-American-Investment ^
  4. Zionist Organization of America. “ZOA Urges Marriott Stockholders: Vote Against Anti-Israel ‘Holy Land Principles’ Resolution,” April 19, 2017. https://zoa.org/2017/04/10359881-zoa-urges-marriott-stockholders-vote-against-anti-israel-holy-land-principles-resolution/. ^
  5. The Holy Land Principles Inc. Facebook. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/theholylandprinciples ^
  6. Press Release. “Sabotaging Holy Land Principles.” Cision PR Newswire. March 21, 2015. Accessed September 12, 2020. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sabotaging-holy-land-principles-300054050.html ^
  7. Magliano, Tony. “The Holy Land Principles: A Powerful Tool for Justice and Peace.” National Catholic Reporter. June 9, 2014. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/making-difference/holy-land-principles-powerful-tool-justice-and-peace ^
  8. “Holy Land Principles Seem Cool, But Generate Lots of Heat at Shareholder Meetings. Coming Soon to 500+ Companies.” Shareholder Optimizer. 2015 Q4 Annual Meetings. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://optimizeronline.com/holy-land-priciples-seem-cool-but-generate-lots-of-heat-at-shareholder-meetings-coming-soon-to-500-companies/ ^
  9. McManus, Sean. “SEC Rejects Exclusion of Holy Land Principles by Intel, GE and Corning.” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.” May 2015. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://www.wrmea.org/015-may/sec-rejects-exclusion-of-holy-land-principles-by-intel-ge-and-corning.html ^
  10. McManus, Sean. “SEC Rejects Exclusion of Holy Land Principles by Intel, GE and Corning.” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.” May 2015. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://www.wrmea.org/015-may/sec-rejects-exclusion-of-holy-land-principles-by-intel-ge-and-corning.html ^
  11. McManus, Sean. “SEC Rejects Exclusion of Holy Land Principles by Intel, GE and Corning.” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.” May 2015. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://www.wrmea.org/015-may/sec-rejects-exclusion-of-holy-land-principles-by-intel-ge-and-corning.html ^
  12. “Holy Land Principles Seem Cool, But Generate Lots of Heat at Shareholder Meetings. Coming Soon to 500+ Companies.” Shareholder Optimizer. 2015 Q4 Annual Meetings. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://optimizeronline.com/holy-land-priciples-seem-cool-but-generate-lots-of-heat-at-shareholder-meetings-coming-soon-to-500-companies/ ^
  13. “Holy Land Principles Seem Cool, But Generate Lots of Heat at Shareholder Meetings. Coming Soon to 500+ Companies.” Shareholder Optimizer. 2015 Q4 Annual Meetings. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://optimizeronline.com/holy-land-priciples-seem-cool-but-generate-lots-of-heat-at-shareholder-meetings-coming-soon-to-500-companies/ ^
  14. Zionist Organization of America. “ZOA Urges Marriott Stockholders: Vote Against Anti-Israel ‘Holy Land Principles’ Resolution,” April 19, 2017. https://zoa.org/2017/04/10359881-zoa-urges-marriott-stockholders-vote-against-anti-israel-holy-land-principles-resolution/. ^
  15. Romirowsky, Asaf, and Alexander Joffe. “How the Quakers Became Champions of BDS.” Tablet Magazine. Tablet Magazine, November 10, 2017. https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/how-the-quakers-became-champions-of-bds. ^
  16. Press Release. “The Holy Land Principles: Lowering the Bar on Human Rights.” American Friends Service Committee. March 15, 2015. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://www.afsc.org/hlp ^
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