United Methodist Church Votes to Divest from Israel Bonds – United Methodists for Kairos Response 5/2/24

Source: Mondoweiss.net

In the first such divestment action by a major Christian denomination, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church has voted to divest from Israel bonds, and those of other countries carrying out prolonged military occupations.

On April 30, 2024, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, made a groundbreaking call for church investment managers to exclude the bonds of three countries – Israel, Turkey, and Morocco – that are holding subject populations under prolonged military occupation.

In the first such divestment action by a major Christian denomination, the church has called on all its investment managers to avoid “the governmental debt of each such country until the time when each government ends their military occupation.”

The church resolution, “Excluding Government Debt of Countries Involved in Prolonged Occupations,” makes clear the church’s desire to avoid profiting from the suffering and oppression caused by these decades-long occupations: Israel’s occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip since 1967, Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus since 1974, and Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara since 1976.

The UN has identified flagrant human rights violations in all three occupations, including: land confiscation, theft of natural resources, home demolitions and illegal colonization, deprivation of food and water, violence against civilians, mass incarceration for population control, brutality against children, and more.

“The timing of this decision is especially significant. When we see the ongoing genocide happening in Gaza, we do not want to be supporting the Israeli government with unrestricted governmental funds” said Lisa Bender, chair of United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR), the group that wrote and organized passage of this divestment legislation.

While much of the church’s legislative session in Charlotte has been focused on church restructuring and issues related to LGBTQ+ rights within the church, deep concern regarding Israel/Palestine also has been a prominent theme of the two-week gathering.

Bishops, delegates, and church members have participated in two public actions over the last week. At the Rally for Palestine on April 25, organized by UMKR, calls were made to “save Gaza” and “stop arming Israel.” A silent vigil on April 30, organized by students from eight United Methodist seminaries, expressed solidarity with Palestinians and also with students advocating on campuses for Palestinian rights. Several statements and prayers by bishops and others in the plenary sessions have spoken of the suffering in Gaza and need for church action.

Besides the resolution on government bonds, the church has adopted this week several other important pieces of legislation related to Israel/Palestine and advocacy for Palestinian rights….

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