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After long opposing divestment, Episcopal Church acts to end complicity ‘in injustice in Holy Land’

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The Episcopal Church voted today at its general convention in Austin, Texas, to divest from companies involved in Israel’s human violations against Palestine. The Church had defeated such measures before but now joins “nearly a dozen” other Christian denominations in taking economic action.

The news was announced by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship/Palestine-Israel Network:

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship/Palestine-Israel Network (EPF PIN) is pleased to announce that today at its General Convention in Austin, Texas, the Episcopal Church adopted a human rights investment screen to avoid profiting from human rights abuses committed in Israel/Palestine.

Following a week of passionate discussion and debate, Resolution B016 was passed by the House of Deputies earlier this week before being approved today by the House of Bishops easily by a hand vote. It calls for the Executive Council’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility “to develop criteria for Israel and Palestine based on a human rights’ investment screen” similar to the one passed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2016.

The adoption of B016 marks a new direction for the Episcopal Church, which now joins nearly a dozen other Christian denominations, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodists, and the United Church of Christ, which have all taken economic action to avoid being complicit in human rights violations and injustice in the Holy Land.

EPF PIN hopes the passage of B016 will help contribute towards a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict in Israel/Palestine, and towards a future where Israelis and Palestinians can live together in peace and as equals.

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) – called to do justice, oppose violence, and be peacemakers – is a national organization connecting all who seek a deliberate response to injustice and violence and want to pray, study and take action for justice and peace in our communities, our church, and our world. EPF PIN’s goal is to create a network which strengthens the voice of the Episcopal Church in advocating for a just peace in Palestine/Israel.

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights has hailed the news. Organizer Anna Baltzer says the Episcopal Church’s vote is a sign of changing times:  

Big news! The General Convention of the Episcopal Church, with more than 3 million members, just voted to divest from companies involved in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights!

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network (EPF PIN) put in amazing work over many years to make the Episcopal Church the 10th Christian denomination in the US to take economic action for justice in Palestine. Thanks in large part to their mobilization, the church also passed ground-breaking resolutions:

Asserting the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination
Condemning Israel’s violence against protesters in Gaza
Calling on the US government to reinstate funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
Supporting the rights of Palestinian children
Demanding equal access to Jerusalem and opposing Trump’s move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

I was proud to be on the ground with USCPR at the General Convention supporting EPF PIN. So many other Palestine solidarity groups were there, too!

We were all working together to organize powerful testimonies (like this one from FOSNA’s Tarek Abuata) from Palestinian refugees, students, elders, clergy, and others, strategize outreach, and share why the church taking economic action is so important.

We’ve come a long way. In 2014, the Presbyterian Church (USA) became the first mainline church to divest from companies profiting from the occupation and just last month, they voted in ten pro-Palestine resolutions.

Now, divesting from Israel’s abuses of Palestinians’ rights is the norm – even in institutions like the Episcopal Church, which had previously voted down such measures more than once.

As icing on the cake, we recently learned that the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation – which has more than $400 million in holdings and has already divested from Hewlett Packard, Veolia, and Caterpillar – will now screen out all companies contributing to the occupation of Palestine and other occupations around the world.

These institutional shifts are a sign of changing times, and confirmation that years of hard work are producing results. The movement’s strategy to mainstream the struggle for Palestinian rights is paying off. Folks are understanding that being progressive means standing with Palestine!

We put a lot into supporting church divestment efforts for justice in Palestine, including sending staff to big annual meetings like this year’s Presbyterian and Episcopalian assemblies, sharing lessons learned, supporting church groups, and putting together delegations of Palestinians and allies to give powerful testimonies at assemblies.

As we celebrate, we are mindful of the reason these milestones matter: Israel’s continued violence, oppression, discrimination, and exile of the Palestinian people everywhere, every day. This win reminds us of our power, and the necessity to continue working until the Palestinian people achieve full freedom, justice, and equality.

Director of Organizing & Advocacy

Mondoweiss Editors

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9 Responses

  1. JWalters on July 13, 2018, 7:01 pm

    To paraphrase the founder of Christianity, you can only have one top priority, money or morality. This decision should be a no-brainer. Congratulations to the Episcopal Church for finally getting there. My deep thanks to those in the church who kept pushing for justice.

    • RoHa on July 13, 2018, 9:57 pm

      I’m not much good at making money, so I’m stuck with the boring one. But a sideline in grammar livens thing up.

  2. on July 14, 2018, 10:48 am

    Great news

  3. MHughes976 on July 15, 2018, 1:12 pm

    It will be a long time before we in the Church of England catch up with our American spiritual cousins

  4. JLWarner on July 15, 2018, 10:51 pm

    What did the Episcopal Bishops do to the above resolution?

  5. lenny on July 16, 2018, 8:38 am

    Anna baltzer

    I followed a link on this page to your site “Us campaign for palestinian rights”

    and i came across this

    “Demanding equal access to Jerusalem and opposing Trump’s move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem”

    I am curious as to why you included this in your list of demands.The us embassy is in west jerusalem and why is that a problem.i am surprised that a christain church should find this a problem.christians have always had equal access to jerusalem so when did this become a problem.
    I have always supported a sharing by the 3 abrahamic relegions of jerusalem and to a large extent israel allows this to take place.
    The fact is that this was not always the case and jews were denied access to jewish holy places but times have changed.
    I would like to know what areas Palestinians are denied access to in jerusalem.

    • eduardoben on July 26, 2018, 5:21 pm

      Do you read newspapers? Palestinians are often barred from various parts of Jerusalem including the Al-Aksa Mosque. Did you not hear Netanyahu say at the ceremony for the new US embassy that the movement of the US Embassy to Jerusalem confirms Jerusalem – not West Jerusalem, but all of Jerusalem – as the eternal and undivided capitol of Israel? And that is in clear violation of UN resolutions supporting a two-state solution. It was basically giving the raised finger to both the United Nations and Palestinians as well as all those around the world who view East Jerusalem as the organic capitol of any future Palestinian state.

    • Talkback on July 26, 2018, 7:41 pm

      lenny: “The us embassy is in west jerusalem and why is that a problem.”

      Why do you think almost every country doesn’t move it’s embassy to West Jerusalem? Because West Jerusalem is a part of Jerusalem which is occupied and has been illegaly annexed by Israel.

      “On 2 August [1948], the Government of Israel … decided to declare the Jerusalem area under its control as Israel-occupied territory.”

  6. Boomer on July 21, 2018, 6:35 am

    Too little too late.

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