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‘Landmark divestment action’: United Methodist Church Divests from G4S

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In a landmark decision, The United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant church in the United States, will be pulling all its investment from G4S, a British company highly complicit in Israel’s military occupation of Palestine profiting from gross human rights violations against Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners.

For the first time ever The United Methodist general agency has included human rights violations related to Israel’s illegal settlements and military occupation in a decision to divest from a company. The move follows the Gates Foundation’s decision to divest from G4S made public last week.

United Methodist Kairos Response(UMKR) press release:

Los Angeles The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) of The United Methodist Church, which manages an investment portfolio of over $20 billion, has instructed its investment manager to sell immediately all shares in G4S, due in part to concerns about the company’s involvement in human rights violations in the Israeli prison system and the military occupation of Palestinian territories.

According to David Wildman, United Methodist Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice at the General Board of Global Ministries, “This is the first time that a United Methodist general agency has included human rights violations related to Israel’s illegal settlements and military occupation in a decision to divest from a company. We celebrate this strong human rights message both to G4S specifically and to other companies whose business operations support longstanding human rights abuses against Palestinians.”

In addition, the church agency has placed a moratorium on any future purchases of G4S, the world’s largest security company with operations in over 120 countries, until a new investment screen is implemented that addresses human rights violations such as those by the Israeli Defense Forces against Palestinians.

A top executive of GBPHB contacted United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR) leaders this week about the sale of G4S stocks, informing them that this decision was due in large part to the serious concerns about G4S activities raised by United Methodists seeking a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

UMKR, a church-wide advocacy movement focused on Israel-Palestine issues, has raised questions within the church for several years about companies in the denomination’s investment portfolio, including G4S, that are involved in the Israeli occupation. “We greatly appreciate the news and we commend the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits for taking this groundbreaking action to address the concerns of many United Methodists about human rights violations in Israel and the occupied territories,” said Rev. John Wagner, UMKR Convener and a church pastor in Ohio.

G4S contracts with the Israeli Prison Service to provide management of security systems at prisons within Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to Amnesty International, B’Tselem an Israeli human rights organization, and Defence for Children International-Palestine, Palestinians held in these prisons, including hundreds of child detainees, are routinely subjected to abuse and torture. G4S also provides equipment and services for Israeli settlements and checkpoints in the West Bank and for the Separation Wall, constructed in violation of international law in Palestinian territory.

Last month, under mounting pressure from an international advocacy campaign, the Gates Foundation also made a decision to sell its holdings in G4S.

UMKR welcomes the church’s landmark divestment action as part of a larger and long-term process in which United Methodists seek to address human rights issues, including the 47-year-old Israeli occupation, more comprehensively in the denomination’s investment decisions.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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8 Responses

  1. just on June 13, 2014, 10:02 am

    Hallelujah! Thank you United Methodist Church!

    • AbigailOK on June 13, 2014, 1:20 pm

      I say Amen to that! If I had some smileys I’d print a few! Going good.

      BDS is winning. Smart people doing the right thing. Hopefully more presidential candidates and other politicians too will follow. In the face of what’s at stake (oil, gas,war industry, power, big profits) it takes great political courage needed to call a spade a spade and thus Apartheid Apartheid (Kerry) and Occupation Occupation (Hillary Clinton).
      All that will be left are the whiners who don’t see the writing on the wall.

  2. jenin on June 13, 2014, 10:12 am

    I was surprised to see the NYT has an article about this today. Of course they quote only a rabbi against BDS (the only quote from someone associated with the church is rather benign and does not say anything specific about Israel’s human rights violations)…but I guess it’s better than nothing

  3. Kay24 on June 13, 2014, 10:14 am

    The Methodist church has shown it is against the occupation and calls for boycotts more than other denominations. This is a great move, and they are showing the others that they are doing something about it, rather than wring their hands and doing nothing.
    They passed the following resolution about a year ago:

    Thank you the Methodist Church for taking a stand. At least this should make the others THINK.

  4. LuLu on June 13, 2014, 11:31 am

    GS4 use to be called Wackenhut Security Corporation. I worked for them when I was fresh out of high-school whole attending collage. (I actually worked for a hospital who signed on Wackenhutt which whom grandfathered in the current employees) There was a multi million dollar law suit against them for sexual harassment and discrimination. They discriminate against females very badly. Also the lawsuit made headlines for a lawsuit for a sexual assault with one of the head quarters manager on one of its employees.
    They hire anything that has a pulse.. I kidd you not. They lost most of their Government contracts and Hospital contracts after the news broke. Their head office corporation ended up firing the ones involved and the ones who turned a blind eye to the sexual harassment when it was reported. If a top notch showed sexual advances at you, you reported it, you were smeared as a liar, and fabrications of disciplinary paperwork found their way in your file without you even know they you were written up, “refused to sign” was written at the signature line where employee signed. They intimidated you, and threatened your job if you filed a complaint.
    Well I rang the Alarm when I went to the President of the Biggest Hospital Corporation in MN, and exposed them, they ended up loosing several major Government Job and multi-million dollar yearly contracts from Hospitals in the Twin Cities area where they had their company supply their services. They ended up getting humiliated when news broke out, they lost millions and millions of dollars and they deserve it.. They are corrupt to put it in reality terms.

  5. Pixel on June 13, 2014, 1:37 pm

    There IS a god!

  6. The JillyBeans on June 13, 2014, 8:52 pm

    The prison industry has always had an incompatible mission to religious organizations. These companies want to maximize inmate retention, religion wants to give us tools to live out in the world.

    Glad the Methodists “consciously uncoupled” from G4S.

  7. SamT on June 13, 2014, 9:07 pm

    In response to the Australian government’s change in attitude to the use of the word “Occupied” with regard to Palestine, Arab states are now considering boycotting Australian agricultural products (live beef and sheep). A BDS campaign against Australia would make our politicians realise that there is a price for Jewish donated electoral finances (stated as 20% by Kevin Rudd) and control of our ME foreign policy.

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