United Methodist Church rejects divestment

vigil
A vigil greeting delegates yesterday morning at they arrived at the United Methodist Church General Conference where divestment will be voted on. (Photo: US Campaign)

UPDATE [6:22 p.m.]: Jewish Voice for Peace released the following statement:

Jewish Voice for Peace Statement on the United Methodist Church Efforts to Divest from Companies Profiting from the Israeli Occupation

May 2nd, 2012

JVP is disappointed that the resolution calling for divestment from three companies that profit from the Israeli Occupation (Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions) failed to pass at the United Methodist Church’s 2012 General Conference on May 2nd.

In many ways, this effort was a success even though the resolution did not pass. Since the last Methodist General Assembly in 2008, support for divestment has grown enormously, as is evident by the support by the Assembly of another resolution condemning settlements and calling for a boycott of settlement goods. West Ohio, New York, and Northern Illinois are three regions of the United Methodist Church that have already divested from the Israeli occupation at their own annual conferences.

We are pleased that the church has come to a consensus that the Israeli occupation is wrong and must end. We are gratified to share with our Methodist friends this commitment to ending the occupation and its wrongful treatment of Palestinians.

Through the work of our Methodist allies, we have learned that the companies named in the petition to divest have been utterly non-responsive to church members repeated attempts at engagement, and are clear that they have no intention of changing their business practices. As the General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of the UMC, Jim Winkler, recently stated:

“As someone who has been involved in the discussions by UM agencies and ecumenical partners with Caterpillar for six years, I would like to share critical issues we have repeatedly raised with the company. Regrettably, in all of these meetings, including one last week, Caterpillar has told us it has no intention to change any of its business practices relating to the occupied Palestinian territories.”

We also see an evolution in our own community. As dozens of Rabbis noted in an open letter to the UMC:

“There is in fact a growing desire within the North American Jewish community to end our silence over Israel’s oppressive occupation of Palestine. Every day Jewish leaders – we among them – are stepping forward to express outrage over the confiscation of Palestinian land, destruction of farms and groves and homes, the choking of the Palestinian economy and daily harassment and violence against Palestinian people. Members of the Jewish community are increasingly voicing their support for nonviolent popular resistance against these outrages – including the kind of cautious, highly-specific divestment such as the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) are preparing to undertake.”

We re-affirm that divestment “alternatives” such as the Ruggie Principles that were passed as an alternative to divestment are an inadequate way for businesses to protect Palestinian human rights. The Ruggie Principles language does not require any action or enforceable accountability for companies that sign them, and thus are a fig leaf for companies to continue to profit from the Occupation. Positive investment in the Palestinian economy, which was also passed in the Assembly as a divestment alternative, does not address the real and present dangers to Palestinian people whose homes continue to be demolished, whose families are harassed by Israeli settlers, and whose lives means of income and livelihood are curtailed by Israeli checkpoints.

We regret that the values we share with the United Methodists Kairos Response, that were so beautifully expressed on the floor before the vote, were not turned into action.

We were most proud that this effort provided the opportunity to conduct hands-on, meaningful, and impactful interfaith work. The coalition that supported the United Methodist Kairos Response during their push for selective divestment was a remarkable array of groups across faith, ethnicity, nationality, and religion. The coalition included clergy who have made great strides from questioning the merits of divestment to now proudly supporting the church’s effort, Congolese Methodists who see parallels with struggles in their country, and Jews who stand side-by-side with their Christian brothers and sisters in this historic struggle for justice, equality and self-determination. Most importantly, the plight of Palestinian Christians, and all Palestinians, under occupation were at the center of this struggle.

We salute the United Methodist Kairos Response for their organizing efforts. We will continue to work with them and with all people of good conscience in an effort to end the Israeli occupation and to bring justice and peace.

UPDATE [5:24 p.m.]: The United Methodist Kairos Response just sent out the following statement:

United Methodist Church Fails to Align its Words with its Actions

Today, United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR) did not get the decision that we had hoped for, as the General Conference plenary voted against a motion calling for divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, companies that profit from Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and denial of Palestinian freedom. The conference faced a choice between standing with the oppressed as Jesus did, or yielding to fear. It appears that they yielded to fear as a result of misinformation spread about the consequences of supporting divestment.

However, we have achieved a great victory nonetheless. We have succeeded in raising awareness amongst the general public and in our churches about the suffering of Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians, living under Israel’s nearly 45-year-old military occupation, and the colonization of their lands. The brutal reality of the Israeli occupation can no longer be hidden, and the myth that Christians are leaving the Holy Land because of Muslim pressure has been exposed as false. Palestinian Christians who traveled 6,000 miles to share their reality told delegates that they suffer alongside their Muslim neighbors from Israel’s occupation.

Though the Pension Board has chosen to keep church funds in companies that profit from the occupation, a number of annual (regional) conferences within the church have already divested. Individual United Methodists will also do so. Friends Fiduciary, the large Quaker financial services corporation, voted last month to divest from Caterpillar. Other churches will soon follow the Quakers.

This issue has brought together conservative, moderate and liberal leaders in our own denomination, as well as others, who support justice and human rights for all, and we believe our shared experience in advocating for this issue will result in closer working relationships on other issues as well. The quest for justice unites people in ways that go far beyond theology, ethnicity, or politics. Deep and lasting interfaith friendships have been forged through this initiative. We have been humbled by the rabbis and other Jewish supporters who traveled to Tampa to stand with us.

Despite this disappointment, our efforts to inform and educate United Methodists and others about the plight of the Palestinians, and the ways in which church investments further their suffering, will continue, as will the global struggle for peace and justice for all the peoples of the Holy Land.

Original Post:

Today, the United Methodist Church is expected to debate and vote on divesting from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard for their involvement in the Israeli occupation. Read this post from Anna Baltzer and Sydney Levy on what has transpired at the Methodist General Conference to this point (you can find all the Mondoweiss posts on the Methodist vote here).

You can follow the General Conference via live video here, and over Twitter at the #churchdivest hashtag.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Activism, BDS, Israel/Palestine, Occupation

{ 98 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Kathleen says:

    thanks Adam. Methodist church has been out on the front lines for several decades. Let’s hope they vote for divestment…walking their talk

  2. Kathleen says:

    Guess they postponed the vote

  3. Citizen says:

    Vote is coming tomorrow

  4. It looks like from the schedule that things pick back up at 2:30

    so this is in 1/2 hr. i’m on votewatch.

  5. horrid

    grinhoyz

    A sad day for the #UMC and for all who wish to achieve a just and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine #ChurchDivest #GC2012

  6. lysias says:

    Why is it a sad day? Didn’t the majority report pass?

    • i was reading the tweet feed from the hashtag #gc2012 and #ChurchDivest (make sure it is tweets by ‘top’)

      link to twitter.com

      link to twitter.com

      perhaps i am wrong, i thought it said the vote lost.

      Huwaida Arraf ‏ @huwaidaarraf

      #GC2012 votes for gutted report w/no teeth, no mention of divestment. But still have opportunity to amend. #ChurchDIVEST
      Expand

      29s IPMN IPMN ‏ @IPMN

      RT @DalitBaum: #GC2012 divestment has no legal risks – it is done again and again – board of pension is misleading people #ChurchDivest

  7. Kathleen says:

    listening. Hope all of the Methodist actually believe in all of those beautiful prayers that I heard them repeat yesterday. Will they walk the talk?

  8. Not over yet, they are currently debating an amendment that would reintroduce divestment.

  9. Kathleen says:

    What just happened?

  10. The amendment just failed, so I believe it is now over. A resolution will now be considered that replaces divestment with suggesting corporations sign onto the Ruggie principles.

  11. Kathleen says:

    The Methodist church will take a hit if they walk away again. The Methodist are being Israel’s best friend if they vote to divest. Trying to take away the keys from their drunk friends.

    • AllenBee says:

      United Methodist Church did the right thing.
      To have voted for divestment — ultimately, a completely ineffective action — would have legitimized the sanctions against Iran.

      This way, UMC can claim the moral high ground against the Dennis Ross cabal that is that is seeking to impose even more sanctions on Iran. link to nytimes.com

      Herbert Hoover, from “Freedom Betrayed.” pp 113-114:

      “We in America are indignant at the brutalities of these systems and their cruel wrongs to minorities. . . .We have need to strip emotion from these questions as much as we can. They are questions of life or death not only to men but also to nations. . . .The only known methods short of war and more than words are that we either support one side with supplies of food, raw materials, finance and munitions, or that we deny these to the other side by embargoes, boycotts or other economic sanctions .
      These proposals to use some sort of coercion against nations are of course a complete departure from neutrality in other peoples’ wars. It is the method of coercion, not persuasion. . . .
      Such policies are provocative of reprisals and must be backed by armament far beyond that required for [our defense].
      Economic pressures inevitably run into pressures upon civil populations. Civil populations are mostly women and children. The morals of starvation by force rank no higher than killing from the air . . .
      Any form of direct or indirect coercion is the straight path to war itself. No husky nation will stand such pressures without bloody resistance.
      Those who think in terms of economic sanctions should also think in terms of war.”

      Hoover was referring to boycotts considered by the US government to be imposed on Germany, Italy, etc.
      The boycott imposed by Jews led by Sam (Louis) Untermyer had been in effect from March 1933 to at least Dec. 1937, when Untermyer gave his last boycott speech, in Baltimore (contradicting Edwin Black’s claim that by the terms of the Transfer Agreement, the boycott would be lifted if Germany participated in transfer of 60,000 wealthy German Jews and their wealth to Palestine. Germany fulfilled its part of Transfer Agreement but zionists did not).

      Neocons & Likudniks have been “boycotting, sanctioning, and divesting” Iran for at least 15 years, with the stated intention of causing starvation among Iranian civilians — women and children. As Sanam Andolini stated at Occupy AIPAC in DC last March, Iranian women and children ARE suffering. Children don’t have vitamins and sick people can’t get medicines. Yet Israel firsters seek even more sanctions on Iran.

      The proposal UMC considered was merely symbolic; the sanctions Palestinians and Iranians LIVE under daily are life-threatening, as they are intended to be.

      Had UMC endorsed a feeble, ineffective and futile divestment resolution, they would not have changed any facts on the ground but would have ceded to Israelists moral high ground. Israel could then say, “You imposed sanctions; you sought to harm Israel.”

      I’m proud of United Methodist Church. Well done.

      • Kathleen says:

        “This way, UMC can claim the moral high ground against the Dennis Ross cabal that is that is seeking to impose even more sanctions on Iran. link to nytimes.com”

        How? Sanctions are very different than selective divestment.
        I think the Methodist just proved once again that they as the young woman said ” hiding behind pretty rhetoric”

        That gal at the Methodist conference nailed it

        • American says:

          “How? Sanctions are very different than selective divestment.
          I think the Methodist just proved once again that they as the young woman said ” hiding behind pretty rhetoric”..kathleen

          Yes they are different…divesting wouldn ‘t starve out anyone in this case.
          I’d like to see names put to the no votes and each one ask to explain his reason for voting against it.

  12. Kathleen says:

    that young lady is really ripping up the church floor…go girl. “how can we have any faith” “stop hiding behind pretty rhetoric” She rocked

  13. Kathleen says:

    All sounding very week kneed, wobbly and chicken shit. As that young woman said “stop hiding behind pretty rhetoric”

  14. Fredblogs says:

    Look at what for you is the bright side. There’s always the Presbyterians. And you only lost by a factor of 2 to 1.

    • Elliot says:

      Looking forward to hearing about the process. The minority position certainly was in play. The organizing by the Jewish establishment was extensive, so they clearly were dconcerned – even Fredblogs wasn’t. I wonder how this outcome compares to previous votes on divestment.

      • AllenBee says:

        look at it another way — United Methodists now are in a position to take the 1200 rabbis to school and teach them some lessons. “We don’t feel it’s the right thing to do to bludgeon and coerce people. Why are ALL of YOU still committed to coercing Palestinians and Iranians?”

        One more time: UMC did not only the right thing but the strategic thing — they ate the rabbis’ lunch (kosher? hummus?).

        PS The thinking that goes “This was a win for the rabbis” etc is looking at it in a totally non-Jesusian, non-humanist, non-good negotiating way. To have voted FOR divestment just to piss off the rabbis etc would have been the dumbest thing UMC could have done; given the way we know Israel firsters can and will twist such a move, namely, “once again, Christians are persecuting Jews,” UMC undercut that argument. But that doesn’t mean the rabbis won, far from it: they lost a major chip that UMC can now play. NOW is when UMC has got to be both smart and brutally tough — United Methodists are now in a position to tell the rabbis just exactly how they are NOT acting like people who seek peace. NOW is when UMC really needs to grow a brass pair; dig in and take the rabbis to task.

        Think about it: 1200 decision-makers/influencers from the Jewish pro-Israel community are now at the mercy of a buncha Methodists.

        No mercy.

    • FreddyV says:

      @Fredblogs:

      Please advise me if I’m wrong here.

      The three companies targeted profit directly from the occupation and misery of human beings. Not Israel vs Palestine. Real people.

      As I say, if I’m wrong, please correct me.

      If I’m correct, then from the comment you posted about the Presbyterians, that makes you a piss taking prick.

      Please. For whatever reasons the Israel lobby has got a win here, that doesn’t excuse you from making snide comments. You don’t need to say anything. We’re all gutted, but your comments just make you sound like an inhuman arsehole. Save yourself.

      Note to mods: You’re probably going to ban this post on the basis of my inflammatory comments, but I’d like it to stand on the hope that Fred will wake up to his own heartlessness.

      • Fredblogs says:

        OK, you are wrong here. Rest posted in next post, in case it gets censored (assuming this doesn’t, they are really arbitrary about what they let through and what the censor).

        • Fredblogs says:

          The bulldozers are used to knock down mostly houses that are built without permits, often on land not even owned by the builders. The biometrics make for more efficient screening, making it easier to catch terrorists and keep out undesirables, while more quickly passing people that are permitted to pass. The motion detectors make it harder for people to sneak into the settlements and murder people in their sleep. Now, I am against building more settlements and for evacuating at least the outlying ones as part of a peace deal, but that doesn’t make it ok to sneak in and murder people in them.

          Any technology used for keeping law and order is harmful to those who would violate the law, regardless of whether you or I agree with the laws or not.

          As for the remarks about the Presbyterians, I read that they are having a divestment vote in the next few weeks. I don’t have any moral objection to your side trying to get religious organizations to divest, as long as you are doing it non-violently.

          As to whether the comment was snide, no it wasn’t. Any more than the comments by other posters here about the co-op in Britain boycotting companies that get produce from the settlements were snide.

        • Blake says:

          Illegal say ye when all of “Israel” is built on what was Palestinian land. As Moshe Dayan said there is NOT one part of “Israel” that was not built on top of an Arab village.

        • FreddyV says:

          @Fredblogs.

          Regarding my post last night. I apologise to you for the personal attack I made. It wasn’t constructive in any way. I’m sorry.

          OK regarding the divestment, it’s very simple. No Israeli is being targeted here. It is three companies: HP, Motorola and Caterpillar. It will affect their profits. It’s a fair and peaceful means to bring attention to the occupation.

          The reasons you made regarding houses without permits: OK, that sounds superficially right, but if you can’t get a permit because permits are never offered to Arabs. If your right to buy land is limited, then faced with that kind of situation, you build illegally. Does that give a right to take someones roof from over their head?

          Again, with the scanners. I agree that measures should be take for security in order to preserve life, but the question is whether it’s right to build settlements on occupied land. Israel say it’s disputed land. The entire world doesn’t. Should a company support the occupation and should Christians invest in it? Obviously the Methodists feel that it’s not an sufficiently important issue for them at this stage.

          The point of this whole thing was to draw attention to the bigger picture.

        • Fredblogs says:

          Actually, it wouldn’t affect their profits, just their stock prices, for a small amount of time, until the market absorbed it.

          It is simply not true that permits are never offered to Arabs. In Jerusalem 2008 the grant rate was about 50% of the application rate. Specifically, in western Jerusalem, 2,439 permits requested, 1,278 granted; eastern Jerusalem, 346 permits requested, 152 granted. and about 1000 to 1500 unpermitted houses built as well.

          It is just false propaganda that they can’t get permits.

          The penalty, by law, for selling land to a Jew in Gaza and the West Bank controlled by the Palestinians, is death. I’d have to check, but I’ve heard that the same is true in many places in the Arab world. The Palestinians have trouble buying land because many people just don’t want to sell to them and a lot of the land is not for sale to anyone or they just can’t afford it. I can’t afford land in Manhattan, that doesn’t give me the right to build in central park.

          Scanners don’t determine whether they are going to be a settlement, just whether the settlers are going to get murdered in their beds.

        • In Jerusalem 2008 the grant rate was about 50% of the application rate. Specifically, in western Jerusalem, 2,439 permits requested, 1,278 granted; eastern Jerusalem, 346 permits requested, 152 granted. and about 1000 to 1500 unpermitted houses built as well.

          according to camera? it’s not hard to figure out where you get your information fred.is that who you’re working for?

        • Fredblogs says:

          ROFL. I love the paranoia around here. You people genuinely think that no one could possibly disagree with you unless he was paid to. I’m not working for Camera or anyone else. They debunk your propaganda on their own site. If they have anyone posting here (which I doubt) it isn’t me. BTW, if I was trying to conceal the source of my info, I would have paraphrased instead of quoting. I just figured it was more likely to get censored if I put the link to camera in there.

        • camera lies. according to the jerusalem mayor..bla bla bla..these figures have all been documented. find a credible source for these lies, you can’t. plus, camera provides no link..it’s just their word against everybody elses.

        • Fredblogs says:

          Fair enough. Where is your source that there are no permits?

        • Fred Blogs; Simple question. Why are you here? What possible reason would ANYONE have to frequent on a regular, if not daily basis, a blog with which they clearly share no common ground with the majority of fellow bloggers? Would you frequent a carvery if you were vegetarian? A wine bar if you were tee total? A brothel if you were a vicar? I don’t visit pro israeli / Zionist websites because I don’t want to throw up. You are either one extremely warped individual or a not too bright hasbarist. Or both. I’ll opt for the latter. Either way, do you have any idea how utterly ridiculous you sound? It is to the credit of fellow bloggers you are tolerated as well as you are. Very few take anything you say seriously. Why would they?

    • Kathleen says:

      Israel lost Fred. Only a matter of time that more and more folks realize what is going on over there on the ground. Only a matter of time

      • OlegR says:

        You keep saying that to yourself Kathleen.

        I do agree with Fred.
        All of this BDS though it is bullshit in my eyes eventually is a legitimate
        and non violent (as far as i understand the meaning of violence)
        effort.
        I actually welcome all of this (when it comes from the Palestinians ) because the alternative is just more blood.
        I’ll take political action over that any day.

    • Frederick – It still represents losing ground as when the narrative was unchallenged, it would have easily been closer to a hundred to one.

      The wheels of justice turn so very slowly, but they gain a momentum that ultimately is unstoppable.

  15. Scott says:

    How close were the votes? The one I saw earlier, about whether to support a minority (pro divest, as I understood it) resolution, failed by a kind of 50-47 score, very close. The subsequent ones?
    I don’t know how severe a defeat this is, or the extent to which the SQL’s won a pyrrhic and not meaningful victory, or what it says about the Presbyterian vote later this summer (a smaller denomination than the Methodists, in any case).

    • All the votes went about 60-40 against divestment.

    • yourstruly says:

      it isn’t so much who won the battle, rather it’s that this battle and so many others like it actually are being fought. not so long ago there were hardly any, today, sparks everywhere. plotting all this activity on a graph one would have reason to believe that resistance is at an early exponential phase of growth. what’s next? freedom’s majestic heights!

  16. FreddyV says:

    What?

    The reasons are clear. Three companies that profit directly from the occupation.

    What were the reasons to support, or more importantly, not boycott?

    I’m very confused.

  17. Kathleen says:

    Why are they so afraid of doing the right thing? Who or what are the Methodist afraid of?

  18. Well, I was thinking about a bon fire and burning everything I own made by those three disgusting companies and initiating a personal campaign against them and everyone selling their products.

    • Fredblogs says:

      That is an appropriate action, as long as you obey all fire safety regulations. Stand upwind too, lots of plastic in products made by at least two of those companies.

    • Danaa says:

      Sherri – you need to burn everything that’s made in Israel or that supports israel.

      Basically, at least 80% of the population strongly support what’s being done to the palestinians, however it is couched. Another 10% think that whatever is done is not fast or coersive enough and that they should just be put on a bus and sent somewhere already. Of the remaining 10%, 1/2 are too apathetic to care about anything at all and the remainder would like things to just be rainbows.

      Oh yes, there’s about 5000-10,000 people in all of israel that actually do care about other humans. There were more once, but many of those left the country or passed on to heavenly pastures.

      The bottom line is, the evil of what’s being done to the Palestinians happens because that’s what the majority of israelis want to see happen. They are all settlers at heart, even if they happen to live in “cosmopolitan” Tel Aviv, even if they despise the settlers. Because they all know that they must continue to exploit the west bank for its land and water , and that the palestinians of Gaza must be kept in an ghetto for as long as forever. To live off the misery of others is not so hard if one can pretend it’s all necessary and if at one point they all had to administer the misery personally (through service in the IOF). The rest of the story are fairy tales and fables told to appease some wreched souls in the liberal west.

      In boycotting Israel and anything that comes from that heart of darkness one simply makes an ethical decision that human lives and rights are important, whoever the humans are.

      These piecemeal divestments are just crumbs that are way too easy to crush underfoot. Expect the vote next year to be even more lop-sided against divestment. Christians as a group are no stronger than any other group, their faith notwithtanding. In the end, when it comes to group dynamics, expedience wins. Always.Only individuals can turn the tide, and it starts with each one of them. Separately before they can act together.

      • Shmuel says:

        The bottom line is, the evil of what’s being done to the Palestinians happens because that’s what the majority of israelis want to see happen.

        A few days ago, Enrico Mentana – one of Italy’s leading mainstream media figures (former news director at Berlusconi’s main TV channel, current director of news at the relatively independent La7) – said the following, at the Jewish Book Festival in Ferrara:

        The people of a country are responsible for the actions of the government they elect. This was true of the Germans with Nazism, and of the Italians with Fascism. The same goes for Israel…. Israel is a democracy, not the expression of a putschist government. That is why I hold its population responsible, just as I hold the Italian population during Fascism responsible…. In Italy, Fascism was not a matter of a few Avanguardisti*; there was very broad support – just as the Hitlerian dream elicited widespread enthusiasm in Germany.

        At the same event, another mainstream media figure, Sergio Romano (editorialist at the large daily Corriere della Sera, author, former senior diplomat), had a similar but slightly different take:

        Israel is a democracy, like Great Britain in colonial times. Secular Zionism uses religious Zionism in order to attain [its own] geopolitical goals. How long can this contradiction last?

        Mentana also went on to criticise the “monolithic support of many Jewish communities for Israeli policies”. Needless to say, the sponsors of the event were not particularly pleased.

        * Members of the Fascist youth organisation.

        • OlegR says:

          /The people of a country are responsible for the actions of the government they elect. This was true of the Germans with Nazism, and of the Italians with Fascism. The same goes for Israel/

          I agree the same goes for Palestinians and Hamas.
          And US and Bush or Obama .
          All true.

        • Danaa says:

          Thanks Shmuel – Mentana, Romano – people after my own heart. They said it well. It’s because Israel is a democracy that we can hold the people themselves to account, as some of us do.

          Have been thinking a lot lately about what collective accountability means. Precipitated by a conversation on slavery in America, actually, and what it really took to keep it going for as long as it had. Not from the ruling elites but from each person. Though perhaps, the more relevant point is what it took to finally get a critical mass of the people (of the North at least) to turn against it. Enough so to support a civil war. Still, it was a long time in coming, and as I am learning, the civil war was truly a horrible event. For all concerned.

        • International law allows for violent force to be used to repel invaders.

          The Palestinians have been quite reserved on the whole, and certainly do not deliver death and destruction on the scale of Israel against Palestinian non-combatants.

      • OlegR says:

        / you need to burn everything that’s made in Israel or that supports israel./
        Then you should start by burning your computer.

        • American says:

          OlegR says:
          May 3, 2012 at 9:02 am
          + Show content
          / you need to burn everything that’s made in Israel or that supports israel./
          Then you should start by burning your computer.”

          Oh gawd, not that again! This Oleg, the outlandish claims like this, is one reason why people are so dismissive of Israel’s claims of acheivement. Do you just not know any better? Who tells you these things?

        • Danaa says:

          Oleg R. Don’t worry about my computer. Everything comes from China nowadays, no?

          Besides, the personal boycott I advocate does not require being a fanatic. We each boycott what we can. Simple.

  19. giladg says:

    Israel is nothing like apartheid South Africa. By hook or by crook, the radicals are trying to make the narrative fit, to fit a square into a round hole. Unlike the period during the 70′s and 80′s where it was easier to indoctrinate and disseminate propaganda, the internet is a tool that gives the truth a chance to be told. There are also respected and influential people who are defending Israel. No one defended apartheid South Africa and rightly so. This is not the case with the Israel/Arab conflict. Jews have strong legitimate rights as well, rights that go back to the times of the Bible. The irony of the call to the Methodist Church, who are Bible loving people, is to forgo the Bible in favor of pressing the rights of a newly invented people whilst squashing the rights of others.

    • “Israel is nothing like apartheid South Africa.” says giladg.
      Says Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Black South Africans and others around the world have seen the 2010 Human Rights Watch report which “describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. This, in my book, is apartheid. It is untenable.”

      • OlegR says:

        Authoritative argument (also known as appeal to authority or argumentum ad verecundiam) is a special type of inductive argument which often takes the form of a statistical syllogism.[1]

        Although certain classes of argument from authority do on occasion constitute strong inductive arguments, arguments from authority are commonly used in a fallacious manner.[1][2][3]

        Most of what authority a has to say on subject matter S is correct.
        a says p about S.
        Therefore, p is correct.
        The strength of this argument depends upon two factors:[1][2]

        The authority is a legitimate expert on the subject.
        A consensus exists among legitimate experts on the matter under discussion.

    • I think you will find Israel defended, and collaborated with, S Africa. Just because it isn’t identical doesn’t mean Israel has developed its own variant of apartheid, which in many ways is even worse than S Africa’s, as Desmond Tutu has frequently pointed out. Israel has no ‘legitimate’ rights which derive from the Bible, there is no such law derived from mythology. Perhaps you’d like to help yourself to someone’s house because you believe Gandalf gave you the right.

    • Blake says:

      Yes it’s nothing like it, just far worse. Your whole comment is contrary to all men irony which you delusional folk seem to reside in.

    • giladg,

      People defend injustice, or it would never occur. And we all of us have a choice today, to defend the injustice that is the Occupation or to oppose it. It is that simple.

    • thetumta says:

      Your right. The Palestinian situation is far worse than Apartheid South Africa or American Jim Crow and dare I say it, American slavery. They weren’t nearly so competent as the Zionists, no I-Phones. A lynching then involved a rope very crude and fast, not F-16s, white phosphorus and well laid plans.

      What was the Methodist vote? Did the percentages improve? Greed is a powerful motivator. Are Caterpillar staff more worried today? They have been very worried for some time now.

      My 97 year old grandmother is a Methodist, a fine women. Unfortunately, she believes her in-laws. Should that change, look out! Betrayal can be a bitch.
      Hej!

    • FreddyV says:

      @giladg:’Jews have strong legitimate rights as well, rights that go back to the times of the Bible.’

      Aw, come on! If I told you I was a Lutheran and as a result a direct descendant of Martin Luther, you’d laugh your head off at me.

      If you want to go down the theological road with regard to Judaism’s claims to the Holy Land, I can do that too, but just think about one thing: Possession of the land was conditional to faithfulness to G-d. Now a question: If you believe the Bible, which you appear to, so you think Israel is in obedience to G-d at this stage?

      If not, you have to ask some serious questions.

    • Sumud says:

      Jews have strong legitimate rights as well, rights that go back to the times of the Bible.

      Oh boy – we got a live one here. Thinks the bible is a property title.

      • giladg says:

        The Koran says that when Mohammad died he flew on a chariot to the furthest mosque, on this way to heaven. From this statement in the Koran, Muslims believe they deserve property rights to the holiest site in Judaism. This is after the near 1,000 years Jews built, rebuilt the Jewish Temples in Jerusalem and established the Jewish religion. Have no doubt, the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel is based on religious maneuvering. Ask a Palestinian Muslim if he would accept a full peace with Israel if Israel would leave all the settlements but main the status quo on the Temple Mount. He will say no, have no doubt.

    • “Israel is nothing like apartheid South Africa.” Says giladg.

      ‘We’ve gone way beyond Apartheid’, says Jeff Halper.
      link to aljazeera.com

      • “We are way beyond occupation. I think we are also way beyond apartheid. There are two words that capture the political reality but don’t have any legal substance today. One of them is Judaisation. It’s a word that the government uses, to Judaise Jerusalem, the Galilee, so that’s a Judaisation process that really is the heart of what’s going on. But it has no legal reference. So one of our project, we’re working with Michael Sfard and some other lawyers, is to try to introduce those terms into the discourse with the idea of trying to give them some legal frame.

        We have to try to match the political process, the political reality, because it is unprecedented in the world. Another term is “warehousing” because I think that captures what’s going on better than apartheid. Warehousing is permanent. Apartheid recognises that there is another side. With warehousing it’s like prisons. There is no other side. There is us, and then there are these people that we control, they have no rights, they have no identity, they’re inmates. It’s not political, it’s permanent, static. Apartheid you can resist. The whole brilliance of warehousing is that you can’t resist because you’re a prisoner. It’s like prisons. Prisoners can rise in the prison yards but prison guards have all the rights in the world to put them down. That’s what Israel has come to.”
        link to aljazeera.com

    • giladg; “respected and influential people who are defending Israel”. Who, where? and by whose standards are they judged? Yours?

  20. rws450 says:

    Very sad indeed.

    For those who did not see, the final arguments against the resolution on the floor ran like this:
    * “I was visited by a Jewish rabbi and contacted by the local Jewish Federation. They don’t like the resolution ….”
    * “the Wall has stopped suicide bombers. ”
    * “it’s complicated”
    * “we should not take sides”
    * “we should promote positive peace”
    * “if we single out specific companies that could make us liable to law suits by other investors if the stock drops in value ….

    In other words. ….. FDB (Fear, Distortion, Baloney)

    I hope that progessive Presbyeterians and supporters will not be too disappointed. We need to ramp UP the effort to pass divestment at their upcoming conference.

  21. eljay says:

    >> Israel is nothing like apartheid South Africa.

    Sure it is. South Africa was white supremacist; Israel is Jewish supremacist.

    >> Jews have strong legitimate rights as well, rights that go back to the times of the Bible.

    No one has rights that go back to the times of the Bible. And no one has the right to use terrorism and ethnic cleansing, or to create a religion-supremacist state.

  22. Scott says:

    My quick reaction is 1) it’s not as if the votes had gone differently, it would have ended the occupation; it’s all part of a long process. and 2) no one has paid so much attention to a mainline Protestant denomination in decades, and 3) everyone knows where the energy and spirit it is, and which way the wind is blowing.

  23. Blake says:

    It’s a sad unjust world when the oppressors rhetoric and revisionism gets a voice over those who are suffering. Not only speaking of the Methodists decision here but commentators like the propagandist named giladg above.

  24. Krauss says:

    This vote confirms why the mainline Protestant churches are in decline and have been for decades. They don’t have any energy or a spine to take a stand for anything. They all just chummy along, laying out nice words but when it comes to actually have their mettle tested, they fail each time.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see major concerted moves behind the scenes by people like Dennis Ross (or his equivalents) at the major Jewish communal organizations. In fact, it would be a crime of them not to engage in silent diplomacy to sabotage the vote.

    And this phenomenon of white progressives ceding to Jewish conservatives on issues they would never do with non-Jewish conservatives simply because it’s Israel and Jews are a minority is something Phan Ngyuen have written about, most recently in the Brooklyn Co-Op. It’s a sweet gesture, in some sense, it indicates sentivity to Jews in general, but it’s also misplaced. A lot of these ‘Jewish representatives’ don’t really represent anyone beyond their own narrow organizations.

    • Elliot says:

      From what I watched of the Methodist debate it seemed like the men in suits lined up with the anti-divestment position while the people of color, the internationals and the young suported the minority position. The men in suits rolled out the predictable arguments: our Jewish friends, our fiduciary responsibility, look at the big picture etc.
      Unfortunately, the responsible grown-ups won this one.

      A lot of these ‘Jewish representatives’ don’t really represent anyone beyond their own narrow organizations.
      I think a lot of Jews haven’t got a clue who represents them and assumes that the leaders are chosen in a fair and representative manner. In reality, the Jews’ self-appointed leaders come by their power through wealth and political inertia.

      Most people don’t care enough to try to find out who the Wizard of Oz actually is.

    • ritzl says:

      @Krauss Yup, pretty similar to leadership in the Democratic Party. Or really just about all the so-called “left” in the US (including Labor). In decline. Timid. Unnecessarily and self-destructively so.

      Except for maybe the Occupy… effort, and of course Medea and Code Pink. I’m literally in awe of Medea Benjamin and the Pinks. True courage. True leaders.

  25. Danaa says:

    Can’t say I am surprised the vote lost. Some times the good activists are so imbued with enthusiasm for the cause that it’s easy to lose sight of just how difficult the road ahead is. Almost no one I know (and I know plenty of humans) is even remotely aware of how dire the situation of the Palestinians is, or what israel is really planning for them (except for some of the ex-Israelis and a few Jewish people who do know and think the palestinians had it coming , because well, because. And besides, they can just go to Jordan…). Most Americans don’t give a hoot about the Middle East other than the oil coming from there is too expensive, and people are always at each other’s throats “over there’ and they should just “cut it out”.

    As for the Christians – methodists or what not – they have been totally cowed by their Jewsish bretherns, and have developed a serious inferiority complex, no doubt engendered by all those “inter-faith” tete-a-tetes. Those 1200 rabbis knew what they were doing – it’s called “pulling rank”. Sorry, I know this sounds condescending but is there any other reason the great conferees chose to behave like sheep and give a hand to evil personified? that in direct contradiction to dictates of their own religion?

    In the US the MSM has been submerged to the monied power classes of which the Jewish establishment is part and parcel. Just look at the over-reaction to Occupy. And the under-reaction to drone perpetrated atrocities. Palestine is of no concern to the average American, and the MSM makes sure it remains so. This will not change until the human rights people manage to come up with enough dough to level the PR field. And unfortunately, the people on our side are rich in spirit only.

    So what can be done so it’s effective? I still think the only way things will get attention – and hopefully some traction – is through shock therapy. To me that means all-out BDS – conducted on an individual basis, where everything from Israel is boycotted (surreptitiously, if necessary) and Israeli people – on a personal level – are told in no uncertain terms what they – and their country – stand for: apartheid, racism, pesecution, a caste system and commitment to inhumanity. Perhaps exempting a handful of good guys- (which in my case amounts to all of 2, for example – a woefully small percentage).

    Unless people are willing to do the really hard stuff, including giving up on products, culture and even friendships and family members, no progress will be made. One has to do it so that it hurts, and a little “divestment” movement is just too easy to defeat – and it will be defeated again next year, and the year after. That schism among Jews Phil is so eagerly awaiting is long ways away, and before the ground breaks things will get much worse. As in much much worse, and not just for Palestinians.

    I said it before but it bears repeating – when you are up against Israelis, their zionist minions in the US (as in those 1200 rag-tag “rabbis”) and the thuggish system they are all part of, one has to be as tough as they are. People really need to accept that israelis will never, ever come around to respect other people, so sweet talking them and their minions is no more use than talking to the Branch Davidians. Don’t know about the American ziobots, but israelis do take a nice long pause when confronted with the appropriate reaction to thuggery, which is contempt. People should try that some time. At least for starters.

    • ritzl says:

      Great observations.

    • ritzl says:

      And I think/agree that the personal, quiet, non-discussed boycott is what is going to make the most difference in this conflict. Just people doing the right thing at a personal level. Information (and a genuine belief, on my part, I guess, that people DO want to see “right” be done in the 21. c) is the key to that. In that sense, this was a win in the long-view, as it brought the contradictions and supporting coercions out publicly.

      • Danaa says:

        I agree ritzl. partly because I am convinced that we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. Laws have and are being drawn in many places in the West that would set BDS as a “hate crime”. And the day is drawing near that internationals will be slowly but surely squeezed out of the West Bank altogether, the better to hide the next phase of the “solution”. Yet, the one thing “the powers-that-be will find difficult to clamp down on is the personal committed boycott, because things done through inaction and avoidance are hard to prove.

        As for those of us who chose to take a stand through abrrogation of filial duties, there is comfort in knowing that whereas sometimes words have their uses, other times it is silence that speaks most eloquently.

        • ritzl says:

          @Danaa I know of the Israeli laws that criminalize advocacy for BDS, but I’m not aware of any in the “West.” That is my shortcoming. Any foreknowledge of that would give us here in the US some advance notice of such efforts and would be greatly appreciated. Like send it to Greenwald…

          If one can’t act on one’s own conscience, then we’re truly in thought police mode.

  26. kma says:

    Is there any church that will divest from these three companies?
    How much is that to ask?

    I left the Unitarians in my city because they wouldn’t even speak out against war.

    Where is the church that still believes in christianity? anyone know?
    Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated for it, and now you can’t find a church in the US where you can hear such religion. How about other countries? anybody know?

    or is christianity dead… ??

    • kma,

      I think Presbyterians are voting on a similar measure in July.

      As far as Christianity goes, as I see it as a Christian, it is for each individual to go where Christ leads them. We have different callings and different passions, and frankly oftentimes I find these struggles bring people from very different and diverse backgrounds together in positive ways that always amaze me and looking on events after they have occurred I can often see struggles as God’s plan and God’s will being fulfilled in God’s timing.

      The so-called Christians who are silent in the face of injustice around them, that looks like the majority of American Christians today, are the ones missing out on God’s Glory and Blessings in their lives. One thing Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about from a jail cell many years ago was the evil of silence in the face of injustice. And he most certainly did see that throughout Churches all over the South. And those churches seem to be deaf, dumb, and blind to all of their shortcomings in the Civil Rights Movement, even to this day.

      Christianity is not dead, there are many Christians who poured all of themselves into getting to the place where this vote could take place, out of their belief in Jesus. And I fully expect that their resolve to see divestment come about will only be strengthened by all that has occurred today. And being steadfast in one’s faith and convictions and taking stands for Christ is a calling of Christ that today’s events tested and those tested will continue on the path they are on, I have no doubts about this. I have a T Shirt I bought today at a Christian bookstore and written on it are the words Love Hurts, with nails behind the words. Yes, love hurts, but this love of God for us that we are to have for one another is a love many Christians will never turn their backs on.

  27. piotr says:

    “Any technology used for keeping law and order is harmful to those who would violate the law, regardless of whether you or I agree with the laws or not. ”

    Is law always just? Is law always beyond discussion?

    If so, why right wing Israel is full of opposition to laws and courts when they would affect negatively the settlers? Luckily, both the Cabinet and the command of IDF are resolutely oppose to laws. There is only force, i.e. decisions of military commanders. So the sentence has to be re-written.

    “Any technology used to support force is harmful only to those who oppose force.”

    On another note, sometimes it is really strange why IDF is not using certain technologies. There was a video about an attempt to confiscate Palestinian sheep, and apparently sheep were effectively resisting “arrest” and soldiers gave up after 15 minutes. It should be obvious that a shepherd’s crook is more effective than M16 for that purpose. Perhaps the command was lulled into complaisance by a success against small lambs: kicking lambs is very effective, but with adult animals with thick wool layer, not so much.

    A more sad occasion was when a settler rabbi was shot dead at a checkpoint. A suspiciously slow moving vehicle was spotted near that settlement so soldiers were dispatched to set a checkpoint and intercept the vehicle. One would think that half of IDF activity is setting checkpoints. But it was done at pre-dawn hour, soldiers just stopped and one hailed the car to stop, the elderly rabbi did not see the soldier in the dark so soldiers shot through the car when it passed them. Clearly, very visible signs can be mounted on little trucks, or can be improvised with flares (this is what they do on highways in USA when they want to stop traffic because of an accident etc.) while there is a device that is remotely controlled and blocks the road with tire-piercing spikes, so there is no need to shoot.

    But IDF is very well equipped for demolishing, burying under sand and tree cutting. Is there any other military force in the world that devotes bulk of activity, planning and considerable technological development (skunk water! special chemicals to treat tree stumps! aerial photography to discover illicit outhouses and animal sheds!) to such idiocies? So let us rejoice! We can remain idiots and bastards for few more years!

  28. thetumta says:

    As this failed state implodes, where will their refugees run to and what will their advocates demand of us? We have our fair share and more of ethnic thugs, but these are the only ones with Nukes and the Dolphins to deliver them.
    The Soviet Union imploded in a matter of weeks. It works, until it doesn’t and when it goes, it’s drops off a cliff. Don’t fret the Methodists. Their just 10 days too late as well. Not unusual. It’s time to think of what comes after years of complaining about the past.
    Hej!

  29. radii says:

    couldn’t take the heat

  30. ritzl says:

    OK, so if investment in Palestine is the method of choice here, then build some solar power arrays, or wind turbines, or water wells in Area B/C, see what happens, get with the government of Spain, compare notes, distribute the notes to all the delegates involved in this decision, and revisit this in a year (if possible) or four (the next plenary; not sarcasm).

    Which leads to some questions: CAN this be revisited next year with new information, and were specific plans put in place to invest in Palestine? Or was the “positive investment” tack simply a deflection?

    Everyone* knows what happens to “positive investment” in Palestine. It gets demolished. Almost certainly by the very same company’s equipment that the UMC just declined to divest from. The irony not only drips, it gushes.

    But then, on a very sarcastic (and maybe a little bitter) note, if the UMC invests in Palestine, it would raise demand for more equipment from the company they just chose not to divest from. Win-Win…

    Thanks AH/all. The “bright side” suggests that there is an education process going on here. One that has moved the debate (and threats) to public record/memory. That’s a good thing.

    *I was going to say, “Everyone here knows…” but “Everyone” is vastly more accurate.

    • ritzl says:

      And the full-blown cynic in me says that when this level of readily apparent logic and/or equally readily apparent cause/effect context is disregarded, there are outside influences involved.

      Oh to be the proverbial fly on the wall in these deliberations among delegates…

  31. My Email To Hewlett Packard CEO

    Dear Supporters and Profiteers Of Israeli Occupation of Palestine,

    I just want to inform you I will not be buying any products you or any of your subsidiaries manufacture or sell as long as you continue supporting and profiting from the Occupation in Palestine that daily maims and kills and steals, its victims Palestinian civilians and children. I cannot buy products from a company profiting off child massacres and other human rights abuses of the Israeli Occupation in Palestine. That is against the teachings of the one I follow, Jesus Christ. I will daily advise everyone I know of of your involvement with child massacres and advise everyone I know to boycott your products, as long as you continue your immoral business practices.

    Sincerely,

    Sherri Munnerlyn

    • AllenBee says:

      Dickerson has a more realistic approach — don’t buy products with Intel chips. Intel, and Teva Pharma and a few other corporations with Israeli nexus– contribute far more to the oppression of Palestinians — without that revenue stream Netanyahu could not buy saltpeter much less white phosphorus.
      btw it’s really difficult to find a computer that does not have ‘Intel inside.’ I want to buy an Apple computer but they use exclusively Intel.

      How ’bout you, Sherri; ‘Intel inside’ the computer you used to write that scathing letter to HP?

      This forum has gone off the emotional deep end. Get a grip.

      The other day, a young Bosnian Muslim in NY was convicted of plotting to bomb someplace, I forget the details. HE was convicted, not the maker of the paper that he wrote on or the bomb implements he may have purchased. Focusing your outrage on the manufacturer of the gun and not the person who pulls the trigger dissipates your rage and lets the perp off the hook. This forum has been punked.

      The 1200 rabbis managed a double coup: they cowed the Methodists –the notion was reinforced that it is NOT permissible to call Jews to account (much safer to attack giant corporations that will not be impacted by your rage) — and they diverted culpability from American Jews and Israel and onto United Methodists, Hewlett, Caterpillar, and Motorola. HPQ is not killing children in Palestine, Israeli forces are.

      Americans need to give themselves permission to call to account, in a principled and focused manner, those who are violating the norms of civilized behavior.

  32. HarryLaw says:

    I know the US has not signed on to the International Criminal Court [ICC], had they, a reasonable case could be made out that the United Methodists [UM] had breached it, it is a serious criminal offence to aid and abet or assist in any way, ongoing war crimes ICC Act UK 2001 55[1a] and/or 55[1d] of which the settlement enterprise is a well documented one Geneva Convention [49.6] and ICC Act UK article 8 2b[viii] . The slightly more difficult proof of doing it purposefully [have the UM not just done that] is all that is required for a guilty verdict. Some individuals have received life sentences in the US for sending money to organisations the State dept deem terrorist. How different is the UM supporting war crimes. Shame.

    • AllenBee says:

      You’ve all found a substitute for Isaac, haven’t you? To my knowledge, Methodists have not killed a single Palestinian, nor do Methodists finance settlement building that is in violation of international law.

      On the other hand, the following HAVE done so:

      United Jewish Fund, ZOA, Sheldon Adelson, Irving Moskowitz, Haim Saban, Aubrey Chernick.

      Apply all of your bracketed laws and conventions to the real perps, HarryLaw, not the “(semi) unblemished ram caught in the thicket.”

      Shame on you for trying to find an easy way out.

  33. Sumud says:

    Shame shame shame on the methodists who put the holy dollar above basic human rights. I’m really too angry and disappointed about this to write much else.

    The only comfort I can take is that BDS started in South Africa about 1960 after the Sharpeville Massacre. Thirty four years to end apartheid there.

    BDS in Palestine launched seven years ago in 2005, so I guess there is some way to go before I can legitimately feel discouraged ;-)

  34. I’m no Christian, but I can’t help wondering what Jesus of Nazareth is thinking right now.

    Excellent piece from Stuart Littlewood in UK.
    link to redress.cc

  35. HarryLaw says:

    Allen Bee, ” Nor do Methodists finance settlement building,” Maybe not settlement building but they sure do demolish Palestinian homes and businesses with specially designed blades and armour plating, all in breach of International Law, you sound like Tzipi Livni ” I was a Minister of Justice, I am a Lawyer…but I am against Law…International Law in particular, Law in general. [The Palestinian papers].