United Methodists reject resolutions calling for divestment from Israel

United Methodists twice rejected resolutions on Wednesday (May 2) that called for the denomination to divest from companies accused of … Continued

United Methodists twice rejected resolutions on Wednesday (May 2) that called for the denomination to divest from companies accused of contributing to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Neither vote was particularly close, with about two-thirds of the 1,000 delegates gathered in Tampa, Fla., through May 4 rejecting the calls for divestment.

The UMC rejected similar resolutions at its last General Conference in 2008.

“Of course we care about the Palestinians, and what they’ve been through,” the Rev. Bob Long, a delegate from Oklahoma, said during Wednesday’s debate. “But we also care about the Israelis and what they’ve been through.”

Don House, a lay delegate from Texas, warned the UMC against setting an unwelcome precedent. “We’d be targeting the companies that make the products, instead of the people who use the products,” he argued on Wednesday.

This year, high-profile activists, such as Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, had lobbied in favor of divestment.

“Such action made an enormous difference in apartheid South Africa,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate wrote this week in the Tampa Bay Times. “It can make an enormous difference in creating a future of justice and equality for Palestinians and Jews in the Holy Land.”

But many American Jews had strongly opposed the divestment resolutions, calling them unfair and politically naive.

“A one-sided approach damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades,” about 1,200 North American rabbis wrote in an open letter. “It promotes a lopsided assessment of the causes of and solutions to the conflict, disregarding the complex history and geopolitics. Furthermore, it shamefully paints Israel as a pariah nation, solely responsible for frustrating peace.”

One of the rejected resolutions called out heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, which have been accused of contributing to, and even profiting from, the destruction of Palestinian homes and construction of Israel settlements.

Earlier on Wednesday, UMC delegates did approve, by a vote of 60-40, a resolution voicing opposition to Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories.

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  • RCMather

    At last, common sense and moral decency prevails. The rejection of a boycott is clear message that at least some people realise that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a simple case of the Israelis oppressing the Palestinians. The latter have made virtually no attempt to create a peaceful independent state of their own, preferring instead to resort to terrorism, anti-Semitic diatribes and rejectionism. If there is ever to be peace in the holy land, the Palestinians – and the wider Arab world – need to focus on nation-building rather than trying to destroy the so-called Zionist entity. The boycott movement is simply making things worse as it leaves the Israelis feeling there is no option but to go it alone in a hostile world and it lets the Palestinians off the hook, who, after all, are guilty of terrible crimes against the Jewish people.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    While this is all more or less true, and it’s also true that a two state solution is the only feasible outcome at this point, let’s not lose sight of the fact that zionism was a terribly, terribly stupid idea in the first place.

  • jay2drummer

    yes, the idea that the Jews deserve a homeland where they are a majority and are not being persecuted is a stupid idea, right?