The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Another US church mulls divestment

Sam Ser, THE JERUSALEM POST, July 1, 2005

The United Church of Christ is to consider divestment from Israel at its biennial General Synod assembly, which opens in Atlanta on Friday.

A resolution submitted by UCC member churches in Hawaii suggests the church divest from American and Israeli companies “profiting from the perpetuation of violence and injustice in Israel and Palestine,” directly comparing Israel to South Africa’s apartheid regime and noting support for the move from left-wing Jewish groups.

Because every UCC congregation is self-governing, the church notes on its Web site promoting the conference, its resolutions speak “to” but not “for” each local church. However, the resolution is part of a larger movement within Protestant churches, mostly in the United States, to divest from Israel. The Presbyterian Church-USA, the World Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church have all considered similar resolutions.

The phenomenon has alarmed the organized American Jewish community, which has mobilized to undermine it by discussing with local churches more constructive ways to promote peace and their desire to see a just resolution to the conflict here.

The UCC resolution speaks openly about the controversy that such moves have created, seemingly attempting to create a sense of balance. For example, it speaks of trouble “in Israel and Palestine” rather than the Palestinian Authority alone, and suggests including in the divestment study “all corporations providing weapons of any kind to Israel, Palestine and the neighboring Arab countries.

Despite this, the resolution never mentions Palestinian terrorism explicitly, and never mentions the Palestinian Authority as a body responsible for controlling it. The resolution also blames “Zionist expansionist organizations” for expropriating land as a response to the Holocaust.