Middle East Investment Issue Coming Before GC 2012

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Israel Divestment

Unless similar resolutions are presented concerning other oppressive nations--like China, maybe?--such divestment would be blatantly anti-Semitic.

David Wayne more than 5 years ago

Work for Peace by Not Profiting in Oppression

I want there to be a just, sustainable and peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians over who governs one's own communities. I look forward to the day when there are two states for two peoples, Israel and Palestine. Until that happens, as a disciple of one who spoke of peace, respect and doing to one's neighbors as we do for ourselves, we must stop making money from conflict and oppression.

Doris Warrell more than 5 years ago

Israel is a diverse democracy

Michael- you are mistaken- look at the words of the Israeli declaration of independence : Israel " will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions"- There's nothing about displacing Arabs. Its quite the opposite- and Israel remains the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing. Bethlehem is now 80% Muslim- the Christian population has fled, many to Israel

This resolution ignores so much. Right now, there is a Palestinian man in the West bank who is facing the death penalty for selling land to the Jews. Mohammed Abu Shahala was reportedly tortured by the PA until he confessed to the sale of a house in Hebron to a Jewish family. The problem with this resolution, and all resolutions that target Israel alone is they ignore that the conflict is perpetuated by both, and can only be solved by both. What can we do to influence hamas to modify its charter that calls for the genocide of the Jewish People? What can we do to influence the PA to open its doors to all, regardless of faith? Divestment from Israel and Israeli companies ignores these issues. The UM community can do better.

Risala Bentsa more than 5 years ago

Thanks for the positive comments

It is important to remember that the issue we are discussing here is clergy pension funds. While it is certainly noble to suggest positive investment, that is risky in this situation. The German government built a solar array to provide electricity to a Bedouin village that had no power. That solar array is scheduled now to be demolished since it was built without permission of the Occupying Forces.

Is a risky investment like that where clergy pension funds should go?

Or are they better off in a company that profits from human rights violations as do the three selected?

As a clergy candidate I would never want to profit from someone else's misery. I would hope that the GBPHB could begin to see things that way. Then perhaps we could truly become stewards of the Kingdom.

Teri Nilson Baird more than 5 years ago

Clarity

As one who took part in a "fact finding mission" in Israel/Palestine in 2008 with 85 UM's from around the world, I would point to the oppressiveness of the situation on the ground. Wnat we see/hear in our media is nowhere close to that situation. These "dialogues" with the companies, just as the dialogues with Israel's government, are, I feel, delaying tactics. Theodore Herzel (father of modern Zionism) and David Ben Gurion (the first prime ministerd) both said words to the effect that they would take what they could get, incrementally, but would eventually have all of Palestine. These discussions are simply a cover to keep doing what they have been doing. It is time to take a definite stand against the status quo.
Also, no mention was made in the article of investments in Palestine. UMKR has documentation that any investment in infrastructure in Palestine is at the mercy of the Israeli military. Millions of dollars in investments could be gone with the firing of a few missles or tank shells.

Michael Hart more than 5 years ago

Divestment is not a step towards peace

There are many here who are genuinely seeking peace in the Middle East; but we must ask ourselves whether the steps we take will actually lead us there, or to a place of greater polarization and fear. When the tactic of divestment is promoted by those who openly call for the destruction of Israel, all who support that step are tarred by that association. When the Kairos document denies the very legitimacy of one party while excusing suicide bombings as legal resistance, our support of that statement takes us further from fostering peaceful dialogue.

Bill Dodge more than 5 years ago

Off Paper and into Practice

Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard are companies that profit from Israel's Occupation in Palestine. The General Board of Pensions invests in and profits from these companies that "fuel" grossly unjust treatment to people in Palestine. It is time to divest.

Dr. Gloria Brown more than 5 years ago

Divesting from the Occupation

I am a retired United Methodist pastor. Having studied South African apartheid, and written my doctoral dissertation on a Christian group opposing apartheid, I became a supporter of divestment from companies supporting that system. Our economic pressure worked. Today, South Africa is governed by people of all colors, working together. Now I serve on a local task force opposing the apartheid-like Occupation of Palestine. The only peaceful way to act effectively for justice, for both Israelis and Palestinians, is to put our denominational funds on the side of justice, and not in companies which profit from the brutal Occupation. Our policies are clear: we shall not invest in the violation of human rights. I'm confident we will act in this General Conference to back up our policies with our church investments.

Gary Doupe more than 5 years ago

Divestment

How many more walls have to be built, how many more private roads to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory have to be built, how many more Palestinian homes have to be demolished before we call for justice? The longer we wait to end these practices, the more hypocritical we are in our failure to act on what we say believe , and the more blood we will have on our hands,

Betty Likis more than 5 years ago

Divest? Why not buy more?

Actually, Israel buys the Caterpillar tractors from the United States government, so shouldn't there be a resolution asking the U.S. government not to sell the machinery to Israel?

Also, instead of divestment, show about having religious organizations buy more of the shares of these companies until they are the majority shareholders, and then change the ways the companies do business from the inside? Religious institutional investors control hundreds of billions of dollars, enough to buy every share of Caterpillar stock (and many other companies). Being the owner/majority shareholder would be an approach that would allow churches to immediately address the issue at hand.

J Meeks more than 5 years ago

Peace needs a partner

Boycotts and Sanctions just hurt the weakest segments of a society- American interference in the economic lives of Iraq cost the live of 600,000 Iraqi children. Boycotts against Israel will hurt children, minorities and the poor . It will hurt them first, and it will hurt them hardest.
We need to encourage BOTH the Israelis and the Palestinians to work together to achieve peace- and this resolution is not the way. The path to peace is achieved by working together- I'd rather help fund joint Palestinian /Israeli soccer teams, joint scout troops and groups that encorage cooperation- not isolation. These are true UM values.

Margot Olsen more than 5 years ago

Time to align principles and principal

As a methodist I hope we will insist on investments in companies that meet ethical standards consistent with our beliefs. HP, Caterpillar and Motorola Solutions do not meet that criteria at this time and should not be in our portfolio.

Kenneth Hayes more than 5 years ago

Middle East Investment issue

Lets put our money where our mouth is. Methodist money should not be used to support these occupation efforts.

Hannah M. Senft more than 5 years ago

Support Divestment

My faith in this season after Easter reminds me that the impossible has happened in the resurrection of Jesus. I hope for what seems to be the impossible -peace between Israel and Palestine - to emerge in the Middle East. Divestment has been a proven tool to call attention to unjust situations, and to force governments to change policies that promote inequality and oppression. May Christians respond to the Kairos plea of Palestinian Christians and significant Jewish voices to support divestment from companies that are making the illegal settlements on Palestinian land possible.

Sara Webb Phillips more than 5 years ago

Kairos Response Resolution for General Conference

I wholeheartedly support the resolution to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard for all the reasons mentioned from supporters quoted in the article, and more.

I have had past experience working with the "constructive engagement" model and the "socially responsible investing" model, and I agree that is a positive step towards enlisting companies in making good moral choices and policies along with sound financial decision-making. However, there comes a time, after years of such effort, and being stonewalled or led down dead-end alleys, which result in no change in corporate behavior--that the parties initiating the responsible investing effort must move on to the next step--that of divestment.

Many who read this might remember that similar arguments as given by the Board of Pension in this case were also used by many when the anti-apartheid movement for South Africa also called for divestment. The church denominations were slow to respond, preferring instead the "constructive engagement" model. In the end, churches finally concluded the prophetic justice model had to supplant the more timid approach towards change. I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail--in which he spoke directly to liberal church leaders urging him to back off from his non-violent civil disobedience approach. They would have him be more "patient" and more "reasonable" in his interactions with the authorities of the Southern social order.

I hope we Methodists will be among the earlier prophetic voices on this topic, rather than waiting until everyone else has come aboard before taking a stand. As the Kairos Response team has already mentioned,
the UMC has already taken a stand against the Occupation and against investing in weapons. Now we need to stop making profits off those very enterprises which we declared we oppose.

Brian Fry more than 5 years ago

The illusion of "positive investment"

As a United Methodist pastor, I, the churches I’ve served, and our denomination through its missions and advance specials, have INVESTED in Palestine for decades! We have supported schools, clinics, health care and rehabilitation, and community development. Virtually every one of these institutions, well-managed programs, and the people they serve, are far worse off than they were 20 years ago because of an occupation spiraling out of control. Farmers and villages we partnered with are inundated with raw sewage from illegal Jewish settlements, daily harassment by settlers (many from the U.S. and subsidized with tax-exempt U.S. dollars), deliberate destruction of olive groves, land confiscation, detention-without-cause and humiliation at every turn. All of this is aided and abetted by equipment and technology from U.S. corporations from which our Board of Pensions insists we must profit. “Positive investment” by itself is an illusion—would YOU invest in one enterprise while investing in a second whose action and products insure the failure of the first? Yes, two parties are needed to end an occupation—the Israeli government (which only brags that the U.S. will protect it from international law) and the U.S. and international companies which enable it.

Rev. Larry George more than 5 years ago

Divestment is a moral issue - not a financial one

At the UMC Morally Responsible Investment task force meeting we were told that studies have shown that MRI including divestment has not negatively affected our portfolio. Therefore divestment is a matter of how long the UMC engages in shareholder advocacy before either the companies change their actions or we divest as the result of not wanting to continue to fund and possibly profit from human rights violations any longer. Unfortunately, the facts on the ground demand action now as Israel continues demolishing Palestinian homes on their own land and clearing it for use by Israelis only.

The time required by the Board of Pensions to make the decision to divest from private prison companies was less than one year. For almost a decade, CAT, HP and Motorola have told Christian negotiation teams that they will not cease supplying their products to aid human rights violations in Israel.

In 2008 the Board of Pensions said they wanted more time to change the actions of these companies. CAT, HP and Motorola continue to refuse to acknowledge their complicity in the human rights violations - much less pressure the US to stop selling their products for the purpose of human rights violations or end sales through their own dealerships.

It is time for the UMC to decide to end our financial investment and support for this illegal occupation of Palestinian territory for both Israel's sake as well as the sake of those Palestinians who have put their faith in non-violent resistance as a method to end the occupation. Our actions speak louder than words and by continuing to invest in the occupation; we are telling Palestinians that they should not look to the examples of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu who all turned to non-violent, moral economic action as part of the path to their freedom and an end to systematic human rights abuses.

It's time to invest in Palestinian freedom by divesting from this occupation.

Connie Baker more than 5 years ago

divestmentsends strong message

We need to stop investing in companies that enable the Israeli government's military rule over and oppression of the Palestinians whose land the Israeli government is stealing daily..

Judith Polson more than 5 years ago

Alex is right

Thank you, Alex. So much of what I see on websites that advocate boycotts and divestment from Israel are not reflective of our Kingdom values. I fear that a divestment vote from our community would empower the extremist elements that would prefer to see Israel destroyed. Empowering the Palestinian people directly through loans, grants and venture capital is a more compassionate way to address this issue.

Janice Pickhard more than 5 years ago

Putting faith and love into action

I believe this petition is asking the United Methodist Church to simply stop investing in an occupation that we already oppose as a church (See: GC Resolution #312, 2004). This petition does not take a side against any nations or peoples. In fact, this petition is supported by peoples of different faiths and nationalities (See: https://www.kairosresponse.org/Endorsement_Statements.html).

The petition "Aligning UM Investments" simply sends the message that we as a church will not profit from an unjust occupation. It sends the message that we as a church will act in accordance with our stated values.

I wrote a blog post about why I, as a young United Methodist, became so involved in this issue. You can read it here: http://mfsaweb.org/?p=6353

Natalia Cuadra-Saez more than 5 years ago

Investment Ignores the Issue of Occupation

No economy can prosper without freedom of movement for workers and goods, reliable affordable water, and access to markets and raw materials. The occupation denies all these to Palestinians. As long as companies the church invests in are strangling the opportunity for growth and stability in the occupied territories, putting more money into businesses there is futile. It may make us feel good, but it avoids the key issue of the occupation, which denies equal rights -- and even equal water -- to people based on their ethnicity.

Christians of the Holy Land have asked the church to use divestment to help end the occupation. All the major Palestinian labor unions support divestment. Only if investment is combined with concrete measures to end the Israeli occupation of land beyond its internationally recognized borders will we achieve a just and lasting peace.

For investors, there is also a very real risk of investing as long as projects and businesses can be destroyed at will by the occupying power. Israel has demolished roads, power plants, water cisterns and solar panels build with international aid dollars. The developer of a new Palestinian community called Rawabi had to sign an agreement to destroy the community's access road if the Israeli government tells him to. He is only able to stay in the land of his birth on a tourist visa, which has to be renewed every three months. Investing church funds in a project like that, while Israel controls every aspect of life in the occupied territories, carries an unacceptable risk and would be an irresponsible use of church resources.

Susanne Hoder more than 5 years ago

Positive Investment is a more constructive step

Positive investment, while not a comprehensive solution, is a constructive step that UMs can take to help build the economic and societal structures that could strengthen a future Palestinian state and make it a partner for peace. Singling out Israel or companies doing business with Israel for pressure through boycotts or divestment assumes that only one party can end the occupation. It will take both parties to work out a solution and we should be supporting an environment in which both parties can come to the table without being saddled unilaterally with blame.

United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine is advocating a response based on this belief. Our website is www.umpeace.squarespace.com.

Alex Joyner more than 5 years ago