Aligning UMC Investments with Resolutions on Israel/Palestine
WHEREAS, Palestinian Christians have implored Christians everywhere to put actions behind their words to end Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, which is destroying their lives; and
WHEREAS, although the United Methodist Church (UMC) has long opposed the occupation, the West Ohio Conference, along with other annual conferences and UMC boards and agencies, still holds stock in companies that sustain it; and
WHEREAS, the UMC General Conference in 1996 declared that “continuing efforts by the State of Israel to build settlements in the occupied territories violate both international law and the spirit of the Declaration of Principles [the Oslo peace process]”; and
WHEREAS, the 2004 General Conference approved a resolution opposing “confiscation of Palestinian land, … the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements, and any vision of a ‘Greater Israel’ that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings”; and
WHEREAS, The UMC Book of Discipline discourages investment in companies “that directly or indirectly support the violation of human rights” (¶716); and
WHEREAS, Palestinian human rights are violated by companies that sustain illegal settlements, segregated roads, checkpoints, the separation wall, home demolitions and other realities of the occupation; and
WHEREAS, researchers with the General Boards of Global Ministries and of Church and Society, several annual conferences and ecumenical partners have identified a limited number of U.S. and international companies in the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBOPHB) portfolio that sustain Israel’s occupation; and
WHEREAS, United Methodists have engaged Caterpillar, General Electric, and Hewlett Packard on this issue for years and have asked them to end their involvement with the occupation; and
WHEREAS, the West Ohio Task Force on Divestment has worked since 2009 to study the issues surrounding divestment and the occupation; has heard widely varied points of view on these matters; has heard reports from the three members of the Task Force who went to Israel and Palestine who are now recommending divestment;  has asked Caterpillar, General Electric, and Hewlett Packard to respond to our concerns but to date we have not received a reply; and
WHEREAS, The Book of Discipline requires consideration of divestment when companies do not respond to corporate engagement with changed practices (¶716);  and
WHEREAS, at the October 2010 Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Summit, the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits stated that SRI measures it has employed in the past, including screening and divestment, have not violated the board’s fiduciary responsibility to beneficiaries; and
WHEREAS, the West Ohio Conference condemns all acts of aggression and terrorism against Israel and its people by Palestinians or others; and
WHEREAS, the West Ohio Conference unequivocally affirms Israel’s right to exist within internationally recognized borders, and to defend its security through all legal and moral means; and
WHEREAS, divestment, therefore, is aimed not at Israel itself, but at the occupation of land beyond its internationally recognized borders: and
WHEREAS, divestment, as a non-violent moral action, seeks to strengthen the Church’s support for non-violent means of securing a just peace for the peoples of Israel and Palestine;
WHEREAS, all UMC mission personnel who have served in the occupied territories since the 1990’s support divestment; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Ohio Conference and Districts promptly divest their stock holdings from Caterpillar, General Electric and Hewlett Packard so long as these companies continue their involvement in the Israeli occupation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the West Ohio Conference also calls for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church to take action to divest promptly from Caterpillar, General Electric and Hewlett Packard so long as these companies continue their involvement in the Israeli occupation; and
- Calls for the United Methodist General Agencies to immediately engage with other companies in their portfolios that have been identified by researchers at the United Methodist agencies and annual conferences as being involved in the occupation. If these companies do not change their involvement within two years, they should be removed from United Methodist portfolios; and
- Calls for UMC boards and agencies, annual conferences, local churches and individuals to prayerfully consider corporate involvement in Israel’s occupation when making investment decisions; and
- Encourages United Methodists to partner with Jews, Christians, Muslims and other people of conscience working for corporate accountability, human rights, true security for all people in Israel and Palestine, an end to the occupation and the building of any new Israeli-only settlements in the West Bank.
- Kairos Palestine. “A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope, and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering” www.kairospalestine.ps/sites/default/Documents/English.pdf Web. December 2009.
- Holy Land Task Force. “Companies of Concern” www.umhltf.org/Companies_of_Concern.html Web. November 2010.
- United Methodist Church -- “294. “Israel-Palestine Conflict – The Building of Settlements in the Occupied Territories.” as cited in The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church 2000. (Abingdon Press), 732.
- United Methodist Church. “312, Opposition to Israeli Settlements on Palestinian Land” as cited in The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church 2004. Paragraph 312. (Abingdon Press), 787.
- The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008. “Socially Responsible Investments” Paragraph 716. (Abingdon Press), 492.
- Interfaith Peace Initiative. “Global Actions to End the Israeli Occupation” www.interfaithpeaceinitiative.com/globalactions.pdf Web July 2010.
- West Ohio Task Force on Divestment Report to Annual Conference, June 2010. Available from West Ohio Conference.
Submitted by the West Ohio Task Force on Divestment
Rev. Doug Johns, Chair of the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, Co-Senior Pastor of Church of the Savior UMC, Cincinnati
Rev. John Wagner, Chair, Let Justice Roll, Pastor of Aldersgate UMC in Huber Heights
Mr. Jim Beck, Commercial Banker, Member of Armstrong Chapel UMC, Cincinnati
Rev. Dr. Tom Boomerhine, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, United Theological Seminary
Rev. Larry Clark, Former Chair of the Conference Board of Global Ministries, Senior Pastor of Sylvania UMC
Rev. Tom Mellott, Past Chair of the Investment Committee of the West Ohio Conference Board of Trustees, Senior Pastor of Bowling Green UMC
Mr. Bob Hadley, Retired Attorney, Member of Christ UMC in Kettering
Rev. Elizabeth Rand, Co-Sponsor of the 2009 Resolution Authorizing the Divestment Task Force, Co-Pastor of Concord UMC in Englewood.
Rev. Greg Stover, Former District Superintendant, Senior Pastor of Armstrong Chapel UMC, Cincinnati
Dr. Sharon Trekell, Clinical Psychologist and Spiritual Director, Member of Christ UMC in Kettering