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’60 Minutes’ report boosts divestment proponents at Methodist church convention

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When the Israeli government got wind that the CBS program “60 Minutes” was running a piece on the plight of Palestinian Christians, their lobbying efforts kicked into high gear. According to an Israeli official who spoke with Nathan Guttman of the Jewish Daily Forward, the Israeli government’s lobbying postponed the story from running on “sensitive broadcast dates during Christmas and Easter.” The government’s principal concern was that airing of the report could “harm” Israel’s image in the United States.

But the Israeli government, it appears, overlooked another significant set of dates apart from Easter and Christmas: April 24-May 4, when about 1,000 delegates from around the world will meet for the United Methodist Church’s general convention in Tampa, Florida.

The CBS report on Palestinian Christians aired the weekend before the gathering kicked off, where a resolution to divest from three companies profiting off the Israeli occupation will be voted on. And pro-divestment delegates say that the “60 Minutes” piece is a boost to their efforts to convince delegates to vote in favor of their resolution.

“It is heartening to see that the media is finally telling the American public what is happening to the Christian community in the Holy Land,” said Susanne Hoder, a member of United Methodist Kairos Response, the group behind the resolution. “It’s what we’ve been trying for years to tell people about.”

The resolution takes aim at Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett Packard, companies that profit from Israel’s occupation, and instructs the church to “divest promptly.” As the resolution notes, divestment would align the Methodist Church’s actions with its long-held anti-settlement and anti-occupation position. All three of the companies mentioned in the resolution help supply Israel with the tools it needs to carry out its occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

Divestment advocates praised CBS for showing the reality they are trying to wake people up to at the convention. The report made note of “burgeoning settlements” and the separation barrier that residents of Bethlehem say has turned their town into an “open-air prison.” Bob Simon, the CBS reporter, also noted that due to Israeli checkpoints, “just leaving Bethlehem is a struggle.”

Hoder also noted in an interview that Methodist church members who support divestment “were especially glad” that CBS mentioned the “Kairos Palestine” document. “It’s a profound, eloquent call to churches around the world to move from talking to action,” explains Hoder.

The Kairos Palestine document, released in 2009, is a landmark document authored by Palestinian Christian leaders. It calls on the world to “stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades.” The document advocates for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and has been attacked by supporters of Israel. Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the US, criticized the denominations behind the document on CBS.

In addition to mentioning the Kairos Palestine document as a call of “non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation,” CBS News has posted an online segment on Palestinian Christians advocating for boycott.

This weekend will see the first actions taken on divestment at the church, as a committee will examine the resolution. According to Hoder, a vote by the whole conference will likely take place next week. She’s confident about the outcome of the vote.

“We are helping awaken the consciousness of American faith communities,” said Hoder, “and Americans in general.”

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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7 Responses

  1. annie
    April 25, 2012, 3:55 pm

    i’m so excited. so excited. thank you so much for covering this alex. another must read article, my hat off to you.

    • American
      April 25, 2012, 4:09 pm

      With the Methodist and Presbyterians, others will follow.
      The question is as it has always been, will it be too late.

  2. Pixel
    April 25, 2012, 4:29 pm

    Thanks, Alex.

    Yup, my guess is that at Christmas and Easter Christians are busy, tired, doing other things. Probably would have missed it.

    The timing of it, now, is too good good to be true. That Israel missed the connection is priceless.

    • Antidote
      April 26, 2012, 12:04 am

      “That Israel missed the connection is priceless.”

      I suppose there were to busy coming up with blood libel nonsense to slander Grass for his Easter message:

      “In response to the publication, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin issued a statement offering its own version of “What must be said.” “What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder,” the statements reads. “Earlier, it was Christian children whose blood the Jews allegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate. ”,1518,825712,00.html

  3. Kathleen
    April 25, 2012, 5:23 pm

    “The CBS report on Palestinian Christians aired the weekend before the gathering kicked off, where a resolution to divest from three companies profiting off the Israeli occupation will be voted on. And pro-divestment delegates say that the “60 Minutes” piece is a boost to their efforts to convince delegates to vote in favor of their resolution.”

    Anyone hearing or reading about how the Jewish community in that region is responding to the conference?

  4. DICKERSON3870
    April 25, 2012, 6:44 pm

    RE: ” ’60 Minutes’ report boosts divestment proponents at Methodist church convention”

    Endorse the Resolution
    Aligning United Methodist Investments with Resolutions
    on Israel/Palestine

    • Read the resolution here.
    This is a endorsement form for individuals, both United Methodists and all others. We welcome endorsements by everyone who would like to support this action for justice and peace in the Holy Land.

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 25, 2012, 9:24 pm

      P.S. Also, thank CBS for Telling the Story of Palestinian Christians!
      CBS reporter Bob Simon highlighted the story of Palestinian Christians on the April 22nd episode of 60 Minutes. Express your appreciation to CBS for telling the often forgotten story of Palestinian Christians by sending them an email (pre-written by CMEC but editable). CMEP is a coalition of 24 national Church denominations and organizations in Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions.
      • TO SEND EMAIL –

      • ALSO: CLICK HERE to sign JVP’s petition which has already gathered over 7,500 signatures in a few hours. (JVP is a national grassroots organization dedicated to promoting equality, democracy and self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians.)

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