Photo by Christoph Goecke (EAPPI), Ecumenical Accompanier Program in the West Bank
Divestment: Consistent with our Social Principles and our Faith
The United Methodist Social Principles "support the public's right to know what impact corporations have in … various arenas, so that people can make informed choices about which corporations to support." As we learn about specific companies that are sustaining the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, we must decide whether to profit from the occupation through our investments in these companies. A number of conferences and agencies have asked that companies which play a significant role in Israel's occupation be removed from United Methodist portfolios. The Board of Church and Society has submitted a similar proposal regarding Sudan.
Proposals before General Conference do NOT call for divestment from Israel, from Israeli companies in general or from companies that do business with Israel. Most companies profiting from Israel's occupation are US or international firms. Divestment proposals are directed only against companies sustaining the occupation. This is an occupation that President Bush¹ and other world leaders², former Israeli security chiefs³, and a growing number of Israeli citizens have said must end.
There is nothing in the motivation or substance of these proposals that is anti-Semitic, as Jewish statements on this site will confirm. United Methodists care deeply about their relationships with Jews and people of other faiths. These neighbors, friends and family members enrich the fabric of our daily lives. We also care about members of the Body of Christ around the world, whom we are called to support and defend. (1 Corinthians 12: 26)
While good interfaith relations should continue as a priority in our church, we must not let these relations silence us when we see injustice. This is especially true when we see injustice which we are supporting. We have allowed our investment and tax dollars to fund the occupation of Palestinian land, though this violates both international law and human rights. It also violates our denomination's resolutions and investment policies.
In 2004, United Methodists passed a resolution opposing Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. (Resolution #312)⁴ . Our Book of Discipline already forbids investment in companies that "directly or indirectly" support the violation of human rights (paragraph #716) Proposals before the 2008 General Conference would simply link our Resolutions and our Book of Discipline so we do not make money from companies sustaining the occupation we want to end.
As United Methodists, we cannot be complacent in the face of monumental human suffering. We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, and joined by people of many faiths, we call for an end to our financial involvement in Israel’s occupation which denies freedom to people based on their religion and ethnicity. In the Holy Land, as in Sudan, we believe justice and equality are the only foundations for a lasting peace.