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U.S. Policy Resources
UMC California-Nevada Conference
Calls for Legislators to Protect the Right to Boycott
Protecting the Right of Americans to Peacefully Address Injustice through Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions
Adopted June 2016
United Methodists and other religious communities have long used the nonviolent tactics of boycotts, divestment and sanctions in our efforts to stand in solidarity with oppressed people and work for justice. These advocacy measures have proven to be useful tools in helping to bring about a wide range of constructive social change, including everything from strengthening labor rights for farm workers in this country to ending apartheid in South Africa.
After studying the success of these efforts, a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society issued a call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in 2005 to advance the long-denied Palestinians’ right to self-determination, freedom, justice, and equality.
In 2009, Palestinian Christians echoed the call for boycott and divestment in their landmark document, Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth. This contemporary, ecumenical confession of faith (often compared to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and other Christian manifestos written in times of crisis) was commended to our local congregations for use as a resource for instruction and advocacy by the 2010 Session of the California Nevada Annual Conference Session.
In 2012, the United Methodist General Conference approved the resolution "Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land," calling for a boycott of all products produced in Israel’s illegal settlements.
In January 2016, the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church announced that five Israeli banks would be excluded from their investment portfolios because of their involvement in settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Boycotts, divestment and sanctions are a constitutionally protected form of free speech and protest that has long been used by people of conscience to effect positive social and political change. However, a recent rash of anti-BDS legislation has been proposed by legislatures and public institutions across the country that threatens to criminalize or penalize the use of these time-honored nonviolent tactics.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 2016 California Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church opposes any legislation that seeks to restrict the right to address injustice through boycotts, divestment and sanctions, and joins the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council in calling on our elected officials “to resist efforts to stifle the movement toward justice for Palestinians through the current wave of ‘anti-BDS’ legislation.”
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference Secretary write a letter to the President of the United States, the governors of California and Nevada, all U.S. senators and Congressional representatives within the California Nevada Annual Conference boundaries, and the majority and minority leaders of both houses of the legislature in California and Nevada informing them of our action.
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the California-Nevada Annual Conference urge all congregations and individual members to contact their congressional representatives to communicate this message.