United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine urge General Conference to reject divestment from Israel

(Portland, Oregon, May 10, 2016)  United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine (“UMCPIP”) held a press conference on the opening day of the United Methodist General Conference (“GC”) to urge rejection of divestment from Israel.  Instead of divestment, UMCPIP is advocating for more peaceful, moderate, and productive approaches.
UMCPIP is supporting a resolution which encourages the UMC to invest in companies which themselves are involved  in peacemaking and cooperative efforts between Israelis and Palestinians or which make financial donations to non-profits working for peace and reconciliation in the region.  UMCIPIP is also supporting a resolution calling on the UMC to lobby the United States government to take a more proactive role in the peace process and for the Church to invest money in helping build a viable Palestinian state.

According to Rev. Dan Bryant, District Superintendent of the Mahoning Valley District of  the East Ohio Annual Conference and a GC delegate, “The United Methodist Church has to find real strategies to end this conflict.   Strategies that will go to the root causes of the conflict.  Strategies that build up weak parties, rather than tear down stronger ones.  Strategies that encourage peacemaking.  I think these approaches are far more wholesome and certainly far more Christian than divestment.”

Rev. Alex Joyner,  Superintendent of the Eastern Shore District in the Virginia Conference and GC reserve delegate, said “when we see righteousness in one party only…when we choose up sides and elevate one narrative of the conflict to truth and don’t seek the new, shared narrative that will allow for peace…then we have chosen the path of division and continued mistrust that only contributes to perpetuating the conflict.”

Bonnie Marden, head of the New England delegation added: “I believe United Methodists must extend more peaceful acts to both Palestinians and Israelis so that their visions for constructive co-existence can replace the fear and anger dividing them.  Any other actions on our part are doomed to simply reinforce the angry, fearful and violent forces sustaining this conflict and trapping all parties in their rigid polarized positions.”


  1. The group that held this press conference has been told time and time again that no one in the United Methodist Church has proposed divesting from Israel. They keep opposing something that is not being sought, possibly to create confusion among delegates.

    The resolutions to be considered at the church’s General Conference ask only for divestment from three American companies that are profiting from the occupation of land beyond Israel’s borders, and from a limited number of specific companies that operate inside Israel’s illegal settlements. The church holds stock in 23 Israeli companies, and no one has mentioned divestment from any except those with activities in illegal colonies. This kind of principled church action has changed company behavior in the past and can do so again. Already, boycott and divestment are causing companies to leave the occupied territories, according to Israeli newspapers.

    The church has long opposed Israel’s illegal settlements. At the last General Conference, the church called on all nations to ban the import of products produced in these settlements. It is inconsistent for the financial agencies of the church to hold stock in these same companies, when asking others to boycott them. If the denomination calls on others to do something, it should be prepared to take the action itself. Banning investment in companies that operate in the settlements is a nonviolent and constructive way to align the church’s actions with its words. According to thousands of Christians and their neighbors in the Holy Land, it is an essential tool for helping them achieve their freedom.

    Susanne Hoder
    Co-chair, United Methodist Kairos Response

  2. Israel has every right to ensure the integrity of it’s country and safety of it’s citizens. The so-called “illegal occupation” (illegal by who’s laws?) is the mildest of responses by a country that is truly threatened itself of genocide by the leaders of Iran and Syria currently, and other Arab nations previously. Any other country would have declared war and attacked with the full might of it’s military forces to the provocations of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Fatah and the Arab countries. Israel simply wants a small buffer on lands that are historically and biblically theirs. Time and time again Israel has been attacked….have you conveniently forgotten the War of Independence in 1948? The Sinai Conflict in 1958? The Six Day War in 1967? Or the Yom Kippur War in 1973? Have you forgotten the bloody Arab uprisings during which Jewish businesses were looted and burned, Jewish women raped, and Jews murdered? Or the ongoing rocket attacks and suicide bombers? What do you think America’s response would be to similar ongoing attacks from a neighboring country? Too many people are attracted to lofty yet empty words and specious arguments against Israel and their comments simply show the depth of their ignorance. I recommend you read some books on the true history of Israel, not the revisionist drivel of the Left.

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