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Political Action        Anti-BDS Legislation

​​​​Twenty Christian Leaders representing 17 national organizations send open letter to Congress,

opposing anti-BDS legislation

Download this letter


​A letter sent one day before the full page statement from dozens of faith-based organizations published in the Kansas City Star


November 6, 2017 

Dear Members of Congress, 

We write as U.S. Christian churches and organizations committed to justice and peace in the Middle East. This commitment stems from our connections to the Biblical and historical places of our faith; our continuing partnership and engagement with churches and other religious institutions there; and our theological understanding of peace with justice, which compels us to support nonviolent means to end the 50-year-old occupation and support equal rights for all people—Israelis and Palestinians alike. 

We are deeply concerned by the introduction of the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” in the Senate (S.720) and in the House (H.R.1697). This legislation, if adopted, would put legal obstacles in the way of nonviolent peaceful action meant to bring about social change, and would legislate against the freedom to make choices in the stewardship of our financial resources. The bills also conflate Israel and the settlements, erasing the important distinction between Israel and its illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. They further imply that opposition to Israel’s practices in the territories is the same as being anti-Israel. We are troubled by the bills’ intent to penalize or criminalize the use of economic measures as a legitimate means of opposing policies that inhibit human rights, in this case, of the Palestinians. 

We are concerned by any legislation that suppresses legitimate criticism of public policy, and that restricts freedom of expression and our ability to determine our own witness through investment and selective purchasing practices. While we may not be of one mind about which measures are most effective, we collectively affirm and defend the right of churches and organizations to use economic measures in the specific case of Israel-Palestine. This is consistent with how churches and church-related organizations have employed economic measures as nonviolent tactics in many instances of seeking justice and peace throughout history. 

As churches and church-related organizations, we all share a hope and desire for an end to occupation, an end to violence and terrorism, and for equal rights for all people. If our respective denominations and organizations, through debate and reflection, adopt policies that employ economic leverage to advance these policy objectives, as we do with many other policy objectives, we believe it is our right to do so. It is an assertion of our right as stewards of our financial resources to spend and invest according to our theological and moral conviction, expressed in our respective denominational or organizational policies. 

In this case, our assertion of this right is an effort to change unjust Israeli policy toward Palestinians, not to delegitimize the State of Israel, nor to marginalize or isolate our Jewish neighbors, or their enterprises. Our choices to purchase and invest responsibly, and to advocate with corporations or governments, are motivated by our firm commitments to justice and peace for all people, without discrimination or exclusion. 

As churches and church-related organizations, we reject any efforts by the state to curtail these rights. We urge you to oppose the proposed legislation, and thus support the rights of individuals and institutions to spend and invest in accordance with their faith, values, and policies. 

Sincerely,


Joyce Ajlouny 
General Secretary 
American Friends Service Committee 

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens 
General Minister and President 
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 

Eli S. McCarthy, PhD 
Director of Justice and Peace 
Conference of Major Superiors of Men 

Brother Larry Schatz, FSC 
De La Salle Christian Brothers of the Midwest 

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton 
Presiding Bishop 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 

Diane Randall 
Executive Secretary 
Friends Committee on National Legislation 

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe 
General Secretary 
General Board of Church and Society
The United Methodist Church 

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu 
Co-Executive 
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ 

Rev. Dr. James Moos 
Co-Executive 
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ 

Gerry Lee 
Director 
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns 

J Ron Byler Executive

Director

Mennonite Central Committee U.S. 

Ervin Stutzman

Executive Director

Mennonite Church USA 

Jim Winkler 
President and General Secretary

National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA 

Nathan Hosler 
Director 
Office of Public Witness 
Church of the Brethren 

Marie Dennis and Bishop Kevin Dowling, CSsR 
Co-Presidents 
Pax Christi International 

Sister Patricia Chappell 
Executive Director 
Pax Christi USA 

J. Herbert Nelson, II 
Stated Clerk 
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 

Donald J. Poest 
Interim General Secretary 
Reformed Church in America 

Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
General Minister and President 
United Church of Christ

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