B'nai B'rith Encouraged by Methodist Conference Vote Against Divestment But Remains Deeply Concerned About Future Actions
B’nai B’rith International commends the delegates at the convention of the United Methodist Church (UMC), the largest mainline Protestant denomination, who overwhelmingly voted yesterday against an aggressive resolution supporting divestment from three U.S. companies that trade with Israel.
By a vote of 684 to 286, UMC delegates voted against divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard—companies that divestment advocates have targeted for perceived complicity in Israeli defense efforts and other policies with which the UMC has disagreed.
The conference participants also declined to endorse the Palestinian Christian document “Kairos,” which demonizes Israel and implores the use of sweeping economic and other measures against the Jewish state.
“The opposition to the irresponsible divestment resolution signals that United Methodists will stand against one-sidedness and the singling out of Israel for hostility,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “These types of misguided resolutions do not help advance peace in the region. Peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the conflicting parties.”
However, B’nai B’rith remains deeply concerned about a UMC motion that was passed calling on countries to prevent the import of products made in Israeli settlements. Moreover, those promoting anti-Israel sanctions have suggested that such steps be considered by the Board of Pension and Health Benefits, a standing UMC agency. Notably, the UMC was not urged to sanction Iran, Syria or companies engaged with these and other countries most guilty of violating peace and human rights internationally.
Several geographic regions of the UMC that promoted anti-Israel sanctions have already individually decided to engage in divestment. B’nai B’rith maintains that peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved by divestiture aimed at one of the parties to the conflict.
Another Protestant denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), will consider divestment at its General Assembly in late June in Pittsburgh.
“Peace can only be achieved when Israel and the Palestinians return to the negotiating table. Israel has continually expressed its desire to find peace through negotiations. It is wrong for outside groups to ignore the unwillingness of the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table and attempt to pressure Israel to do what it is already anxious and willing to do: find peace,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “We will continue to monitor situations like this, including June’s Presbyterian General Assembly, to ensure that Israel is not unfairly hurt or maligned.”