Methodists Vote in Tampa Against Ending Investments Tied to Israel
The New York Times is reporting that the United Methodist Church, the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, voted against two proposals on Wednesday to divest from companies that provide equipment used by Israel to enforce its control in the occupied territories.
The vote was held in Tampa at the church’s quadrennial convention. The Times wrote:
The vote came after months of intense lobbying by American Jews, Israelis and Palestinian Christians. After an afternoon of impassioned debate and several votes, the delegates overwhelmingly passed a more neutral resolution calling for “positive” investment to encourage economic development “in Palestine.”
However, the Methodists also passed a strongly worded resolution denouncing the Israeli occupation and the settlements, and calling for “all nations to prohibit the import of products made by companies in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”
The story says the Presbyterian Church USA will vote on a divestment measure at its general assembly, which begins on June 30 in Pittsburgh. (The Presbyterians voted for divestment in 2004, then backed off at their next general assembly two years later.)
In Tampa, many delegates took to the floor to testify that they had traveled to the Holy Land and met with Palestinian Christians who were suffering and increasingly desperate for an end to the occupation. But in the end, they listened to some Jewish leaders and fellow Methodists who warned that divestment was a one-sided strategy that penalized only Israel.
The Rev. Alex Joyner, a Methodist pastor in Franktown, Va., and a member of an antidivestment caucus called United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine, said: “We are all concerned about the suffering and the ongoing occupation, because it is hurting Israeli and Palestinian society. But what the church has said is we want a positive step, and we reject punitive measures as a way of trying to bring peace.”