On Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Manchester, NH the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church overwhelmingly passed a resolution entitled “Identifying and Opposing Apartheid in the Holy Land.”
The vote was 88% “yes” and 12% “no” with 354 people voting in the combined in-person/Zoom meeting. The conference includes all of the New England states with the exception of the western half of Connecticut.
The resolution resolved “that the New England Annual Conference…recognizes that the Israeli government has established a system of apartheid, affirms that apartheid is antithetical to the Gospel message, and opposes this injustice and oppression in whatever form it presents itself.”
It went on to also state “that the Conference calls on the U.S. government to condition U.S. funding to Israel upon Israel’s willingness to dismantle its apartheid system and implement all the rights due to Palestinians under international law.”
And it ended by urging “all United Methodist clergy and laity: a) to listen to the voices of Palestinians regarding their situation…and b) to join with and support all persons of good will who are seeking justice for all people in the Holy Land.”
The resolution, which originated with the conference’s Divestment Task Force, was prefaced with a number of statements about the reality of life for Palestinians in the Holy Land and noted that a number of human rights organizations have issued reports identifying Israel’s system of apartheid, including B’Tselem in 2021 (Israel’s most eminent human rights organization), Human Rights Watch in 2021, and Amnesty International in 2022.
The resolution noted that in 1988 “The United Methodist Church has forcefully declared its opposition to the crime of apartheid, calling it a ‘heresy’ and ‘a sin’ that must be condemned unequivocally – within Southern Africa and neighboring countries and throughout the world.’ ”
Other denominations are moving in the same direction regarding Israeli apartheid. Most notably the General Synod of the United Church of Christ condemned it, becoming the first mainline denomination to use the term.
William P. Aldrich
Divestment Task Force, New England Conference, United Methodist Church
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