Above: Delegates at the UMC General Conference 2008
April 26, 2012
Dear Friends of the United Methodist Church
The situation in Israel and Palestine pains me greatly since
it is the place where God formed a very particular relationship
with a particular group of people; Hebrews who were
oppressed as slaves in another land. As time moved on, this
people disobeyed God and time and time again the prophets
had to call them back to their deepest values.
The Jewish Holocaust, engineered and implemented primarily
by Europeans, gave some ideologues within the Jewish and
Christian community an excuse to implement plans that were
in the making for at least 50 years, under the rubric of
exceptional Jewish security. In this way began the immense
oppression of the Palestinian people, who were not at all involved in the Holocaust. Not only is this group of people being oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa, their very identity and history are being denied and obfuscated. What is worse, is that Europe and the USA are refusing to take responsibility for their actions with regard to both the Holocaust and the over-empowering of the Israelis, their disregard for the international conventions and regulatory framework of the nuclear industry and their continued oppression of the Palestinian people.
But God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, neither slumbers nor sleeps. Prophetic voices have been calling this empowered people who were once oppressed and killed, to their deepest values of justice and compassion, but they have refused to listen even to the most reasonable voices. The human community cannot be silent in the face of the gross injustice being meted out to the people of Palestine. If international courts and governments refuse to deal with this matter, we in the churches and in the rest of civil society really have no choice but to act in small ways and big ways.
God is busy doing a new thing. And God is using all of us to be partners with him. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians have to be liberated, but at this stage the greater onus is on the Israelis since they are the ones who are in power, economically, politically and militarily. We have to think about ways that will allow them to reflect deeply on what it is that they are doing and bring them back from the brink, not out of spite or revenge, but because we love them deeply.
I therefore wholeheartedly support your action to disinvest from companies who benefit from the Occupation of Palestine. This is a moral position that I have no choice but to support, especially since I know of the effect that Boycotts, Disinvestment and Sanctions had on the apartheid regime in South Africa.
May God bless your conference as you deliberate on this matter, and I pray that your decision will reflect the best values of the human family as we stand in solidarity with the oppressed.
God bless you.
Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Cape Town, South Africa.
106. Renen Raz
107. Dr. Hili Razinsky
108. Deb Reich
109. Larissa Riahi
110. Gregory Rokhlenko
111. Yehoshua Rosin, Rehovot
112. Leehee Rothschild
113. Lizi Sagie
114. Dr. Michal Sapir
115. Herzl Schubert, Tel-Aviv
116. Noa Shaindlinger
117. Ayala Shani
118. Tal Shapira
119. Yonatan Shapira
120. Itamar Shapira
121. Inbal Sinai
122. Ora Slonim
123. Dr. Kobi Snitz
124. Sonya Soloviov
125. Marcelo Svirsky
126. Ruth Tenne
127. Amir Terkel
128. Daphna Thier
129. Uri Thier
130. Tzvia Thier
131. Amiel Vardi
132. Sahar M. Vardi
133. Michael Warschawski
134. Einat Weizman
135. Elian Weizman
136. Rebekah Wolf
137. Sergio Yahni
138. Iaroslav Youssim
139. Karen Zack
140. Shimri Zameret
United Methodist Missionary to Israel/Palestine
Western Pennsylvania Conference Delegate to General Conference 2012
Dear General Conference Delegate,
My name is Tina Whitehead and I am writing to you from Jerusalem. I am also, like you, a delegate to the 2012 General Conference.
For the past 5 years I have been volunteering in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, primarily doing education and advocacy on behalf of the Palestinian people. My journey began in 1997 when I first came here as a “pilgrim,” to “walk where Jesus walked.” Over a period of 4 years, I read, I listened and I heard the stories of a people I had previously known nothing about: the Palestinian people. Their request of me and of others was to “go home and tell our story.”
That request has become my calling.
My passion is to speak to tour groups here about what I've seen and heard. I find that most of the people I meet are just like I was: totally unaware of what is happening here. When I ask each group, “What do you think of when you hear the word 'Palestinian?'” the answer is always the same: “terrorist.” They do not know that the Christians who remain here are Palestinian, nor do they know of the suffering that both Muslim and Christian Palestinians have endured since losing their homes and their land in 1948.
This suffering and loss did not end in 1948; it goes on today due to oppressive Israeli government policies that daily dehumanize the Palestinians, depriving them not just of their land, but of all the human rights and freedoms that we take for granted.
I have found that about 90% of those that I speak with are astounded by what they see (my “talking” is done through pictures of life here). The first question they ask is “Why don't we know this?” and the second is “What can we do?”
Supporting the resolution called “Aligning United Methodist Church Investments with Resolutions on Israel/Palestine” is something that we, as individuals and as a Church, can do that can make a positive difference in the pursuit of peace and justice in this region of the world. The United Methodist Church has already taken a stand against the oppression that is taking place here. It also has resolutions that speak against the financial support of any organization or body that profits from the suffering of others. All we are asking is that we put in action what we have already said in words.
I pray that you support this resolution and continue to pray and act for the peace of Jerusalem.
If you'd like to be in touch with me with any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Endorsements for United Methodist Divestment
from the Israeli Occupation
General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church (on this page, see below)
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, United Methodist Church (on this page, see below)
Rifat Kassis, Kairos Palestine General Coordinator, 2009 – 2014
On behalf of Kairos Palestine, the Palestinian Christian movement that produced the
Kairos Palestine Document, now including Kairos organizations in over 20 countries
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) (on this page, see below)
The Rabbinical Council of JVP see it here
140 Israeli Citizens' Letter of Support, on video and in print (on this page, see below)
Jeff Halper, Director of ICAHD, Israeli Committee Agains House Demolitions see it here
ICAHD-USA, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA affiliate see it here
Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
Letter of Endorsement - April 2012 (on this page, see below)
Op-Ed in Tampa Bay Times - May 2012 see it here
Tina Whitehead, UM Missionary in Israel/Palestine (on this page, see below)
Alex Awad, Palestinian Missionary of the UMC General Board of Global Ministries see it here
Kairos Southern Africa see it here
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a coalition of over 400 organizations
in the United States see it here
US Dominican Palestine Coordinating Committee (on this page, see below)
Above: United Methodists experience a checkpoint in the West Bank, where Palestinians spend hours every day to reach school, jobs, family members and hospitals.
71. Dr. Hadas Leonov
72. Eytan Lerner
73. Roi Livne
74. Yonatan Livneh
75. Ilan Lonai
76. Yuval Lotem, Jaffa
77. Adv. Henry Lowi
78. Yossef Lubovsky
79. Gal Lugassi
80. Naomi Lyth
81. Prof. Bezalel Manekin
82. Daniel Margalit
83. Dr. Ruchama Marton
84. Dr. Anat Matar
85. Edo Medicks
86. Yossef(a) Mekyton
87. Gregory Molev
88. Susanne Moses
89. Andreas Moses
90. Dr. Yael Munk, The Open University, Israel
91. Dorit Naaman, PhD
92. Dr. Dorothy Naor
93. Ofer Neiman
94. Dr. David Nir
95. Elyakim Nitzani
96. Prof. Nurit Peled
97. Leiser Peles
98. Yaar Peretz
99. Einat Podjarny
100. Jonathan Pollak
101. Ayman Qwaider
102. Micha Rachman
103. Alison Ramer
104. Prof. Tamar Rapoport
105. Mosi Raz
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1. Noa Abend
2. Uri Agnon
3. Manal Amoury, Ph.D
4. Steve Amsel
5. Eliran Arazi
6. Dorit Argo
7. Nitzan Aviv
8. Daphne Banai, Tel Aviv
9. Oshra Bar
10. Hillel Barak
11. Miri Barak
12. Ronnie Barkan
13. Dr. Rann Bar-On
14. Dr. Dalit Baum
15. Ronnen Ben Arie
16. Ofra Ben Artzi
17. Sara Benninga
18. Zvi Benninga
19. Alma Biblash
20. Theodor Bughici, Hebrew University
21. Guy Butavia
22. Smadar Carmon
23. Eliyahu Caufman
24. Dr. Ellen Chaikin, Jerusalem
25. Natalie Cohen
26. Ron Cohen
27. Maayan Dak
28. Dr. Uri Davis
29. Ruth Edmonds
30. Shiri Eisner
31. Ofer Engel
32. Hamutal Erato
33. Lina Falah
34. Naama Farjoun
35. Pnina Feiler, Reg. Nurse
Jewish Voice for Peace Letter to UMC Delegates
June 16, 2011
We are writing to you on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace to urge you to vote in favor of the resolution “Aligning United Methodist Church Investments with Resolutions on Israel/Palestine.
We urge you to follow the path of peacemakers by following Micah’s prophetic call to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. Few places are more deserving of peacemaking than the Holy Land, where neither Israeli nor Palestinians enjoy real peace and security.
We believe that doing justice requires you to take a look at the investment that your church may have in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and are obstacles to a just peace in Israel and Palestine. Take the example of Caterpillar, which profits from the demolition of Palestinian homes and from the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian olive trees. Or take a look at Motorola and Hewlett Packard, both involved in the maintaining of a system of walls and checkpoints that are aimed at continuing the expansions of illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Divesting from these companies is not about divesting from Israel. It is about divesting from war and injustice while pressuring companies to conduct their own businesses ethically. Together with our allies, the Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of Loretto, Jewish Voice for Peace has been pressuring Caterpillar for 8 years with shareholder resolutions calling on the corporation to take some responsibility for the destruction caused by its bulldozers. The company has not budged. Motorola and Hewlett Packard have been approached as well.
We believe that loving kindness requires (1) an honest look at the role that anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism play in our society and (2) authentically expressing a true concern for the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians. Neither people will find peace when they meet as occupier and occupied. We believe that the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem harms both peoples and must end now.
The path of the peacemaker we suggest here is neither anti-Semitic or anti-Arab. It does not single out either Jews or Arabs, but focuses rather on injustice and human rights violations. Indeed, in Jewish Voice for Peace’s book, Reframing Anti-Semitism, now in its fourth printing, we reject the notion that any state – including the State of Israel – is above criticism or nonviolent protest.
We believe that walking humbly with God requires us to walk together as Christians, Jews, and Muslims, holding steadfast to our understandings of justice and kindness, while accepting that individually we hold a small portion of the solution, but collectively we can help bring peace to the Holy Land.
Jewish Voice for Peace
ABOUT JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE
Jewish Voice for Peace is America’s largest Jewish grassroots peace group dedicated to reaching a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on the principles of equality and international human rights law. JVP works with activists in Palestine and Israel, and in broad coalition with other Jewish, Arab-American, faith-based, and peace and social justice organizations to support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for justice, security and self-determination.
Jewish Voice for Peace calls for:
• A U.S. foreign policy based on promoting peace, democracy, human rights, and respect for international law
• An end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem
• A resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem consistent with international law
• An end to all violence against civilians
Endorsements Endorsement Statements
Stand in solidarity with the Christians of Palestine: A Message from Bishop
Mary Ann Swenson
Download this message
The beautiful season when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace has just concluded, and this year it had a special meaning for me unlike any year in the past. Just before the Advent season began, I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with an ecumenical group of women bishops.
What I experienced on this trip affected me deeply, in ways I was not fully prepared for.
We visited Bethlehem, where I saw Christ's birthplace surrounded by an imposing
concrete wall, with access granted to its residents through a dehumanizing checkpoint.
We visited Hebron, a Palestinian town with a couple of hundred Israeli settlers planted in its midst, being guarded by well over 1000 Israeli soldiers. There are streets in Hebron that the residents are not allowed to use, not even to reach their own homes. I watched as a child climbed a ladder to a second story window to get into her home, and I was appalled to see a mother, carrying her baby in her arms, having to do the same.
We learned how the occupation has created segregated communities, where freedom of movement and access to the basic necessities of life - such as water and medical care - are determined by ethnic identity. I found myself moved to tears on a daily basis by what I heard and saw.
Yet, despite all the despair that we witnessed, we also met courageous men and women of all three Abrahamic faiths who continue to work for peace. They have kept hope in their hearts that real peace, security and justice will be achieved for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Among those who will never give up their faith in God's justice and God's peace are the 'living stones' -
the Christians of Palestine.
The Palestinian Christians have given the world a statement of faith and a call to action,
named Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth. This heartfelt and profound document includes an urgent plea to Christians around the world, asking what we are willing to do to resist the injustice of the (now) 45-year-old occupation of Palestine. They name divestment as a courageous step forward we can take: ethical, non-violent action that will help them in their long struggle for freedom and equal rights.
I came home from this pilgrimage firmly believing that United Methodists must stand in solidarity with our Christian brethren in Palestine. Some in our church are doing that today, in a global grassroots movement named United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR). The laity and clergy of UMKR educate United Methodists about the reality of the Israeli occupation that we saw on our trip, and advocate that our church should not have financial investments that support that occupation.
You may be surprised to learn that the church does invest in the occupation, although our General Conference has adopted resolutions for more than a decade saying clearly that our church is opposed to the occupation of Palestinian land and wants to see it ended.
UMKR is supporting a resolution coming to General Conference 2012 from The General Board of Church and Society and several annual conferences. It calls on all United Methodist agencies to align their investments with our church's resolutions regarding Israel and Palestine and, specifically, to end our investments in companies that help to sustain and expand the occupation.
I commend the efforts of United Methodist Kairos Response; I am writing to you to ask for your support of their work.
Here are some things that you can do now:
» Please SHARE this message with your congregation, with other organizations, and forward it widely to family, friends and colleagues, asking them to take action too.
» Read and endorse the resolution that is coming to General Conference. (If you receive any services from the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, you can sign the petition also.)
» Consider donating whatever you are able to this grassroots movement. They are working with limited resources to reach United Methodists around the world.
» Become a volunteer. There is much to be done between now and General Conference. If you would like to be more involved, UMKR would welcome your help. You can contact them at: email@example.com.
I have a special request for General Conference Delegates who read this message:
I know you will be concerned with many matters during General Conference that will shape the future of our church. But please do not neglect this God-given opportunity for our church to show that we truly mean what we have said in past resolutions, and that we will not knowingly support the injustice of the occupation with our investment funds. Take a little time to visit the UMKR website and talk with your fellow delegates about the importance of supporting the resolution "Aligning UM Investments" at General Conference 2012.
Our calling as Christ's disciples includes challenging injustice and refusing to support systems of injustice wherever they are found. I hope you will prayerfully consider this justice initiative and join me in supporting it, both now and at General Conference. I look forward to seeing many of you in Tampa, Florida this spring.
Shalom, Salaam, Peace,
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson
California-Pacific Annual Conference
United Methodist Church
The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), United Methodist Church
Statement of Support for "Aligning UM Investments with Resolutions on Israel/Palestine"
Adopted by the GBGM Board of Directors, October 2011
For decades, GBGM has served as the primary contact with our ecumenical and grassroots partners in Israel/Palestine working for a just and lasting peace on behalf of the whole church. Global Ministries has 4 mission personnel and a mission intern currently serving there. Global Ministries supports various partners with Advance funds and have special donor designated funds specifically for support of partners working with women, youth and children in the Middle East. Since 2002, GBGM mission personnel, conference secretaries, and directors, with support from staff, have organized six peace & justice delegations, and participated in corporate accountability and advocacy work for nonviolent actions like divestment.
At the launch of the Kairos Palestine document , “A Moment of truth: a word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian Suffering,” in Bethlehem, December 11, 2009, GBGM had 3 mission personnel and 1 staff present. In the document, Palestinian Christians call on sisters and brothers throughout the ecumenical community to take nonviolent, loving actions to end Israel's military occupation and to end corporate complicity in sustaining the occupation and the building of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands. United Methodist representatives have been confronted with the reality that we hold investments in a number of companies that support the infrastructure of the occupation, contradicting officially stated moral positions of our church.
In October 2010, United Methodists gathered from more than 10 annual conferences across the US to form the United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR) group in solidarity with the authors of the Kairos Palestine document. Out of these efforts came a resolution, “Aligning UMC Investments with Resolutions on Israel/Palestine” (see attached). In reviewing UMC investments, a number of companies were identified as supporting the military occupation and construction of illegal settlements. The resolution identifies Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard as three specific companies that have been non-responsive for several years to calls by religious shareholders to end such involvement. Accordingly, the resolution calls for divestment of UMC holdings in these companies until the companies end their support for occupation and settlements.
GBGM directors, staff, and constituents have played a significant role in research, preparation, and drafting of the resolution. The resolution was adopted by the General Board of Church and Society at their February 2011 board meeting for submission to General Conference. It was also shared with GBGM Nominations & Legislation committee and also the Investment committee directors at their Feb. 2011 meetings as an example of corporate accountability work done by GBGM staff. In June 2011, seven Annual Conferences voted to support the resolution.
As the agency with primary responsibility for relations with ecumenical partners in Palestine/Israel, many look to GBGM as a leading religious voice in the US and global contexts. GBGM joins with GBCS in one voice to endorse the “Aligning” resolution as we respond to the cries of our sisters and brothers in Israel/Palestine-- and as we seek to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
Letter and Video of Support from 140 Israeli Citizens, 2012
See some of the signers of this letter in the video on the right: Israelis appeal to Methodist Church
Dear United Methodist Friends,
We write to you as citizens and residents of Israel who support the United Methodist proposal to divest from companies involved with Israel’s occupation. Understanding that a decision to divest may sound harsh at first and that quite a few misconceptions exist concerning this initiative, we would like to offer our view.
We understand that this is a decision about how the church will invest its own money, and we applaud the effort to make the church’s actions consistent with its values. In view of this effort, we are asking you to support the Palestinian call for actions such as divestment from the Israeli occupation. We would like to stress that this form of divestment is far from being anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic. We support and encourage your resolution to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli Occupation. We are convinced that measures such as this do not target Israeli, Jewish or any other individuals, but companies which profit from Israel’s military occupation and violations of human rights as stipulated in international law. We believe that the proposed United Methodist divestment resolution is therefore extremely responsible and worthy.
The effectiveness of the divestment campaign is undeniable. Some companies are actually moving out of the illegal settlements as global economic actions continue. Even the most mainstream Israeli commentators say that Israel must fundamentally change its ways, and that Israeli PR alone will no longer succeed in maintaining the brutal reality of Israel’s discriminatory policies.
The continued violent oppression of the Palestinian people is a crime. The continued theft of land, water and natural resources from Palestinians is a crime. At the very least, we expect conscientious people and organizations not to take part in crime. We expect people of conscience not to carry on in a "business as usual" manner under these circumstances. When an organization finds out that it is invested in projects that profit from crime, the decent thing to do would be to disinvest from those projects.
The words of the Kairos Palestine Document, supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others who stand for justice, stress the depth and moral conviction of your call. We hope and trust that the universal principles concerning human rights will guide you towards an action of solidarity with Palestinians who share your faith and all other Palestinians. We strongly believe that divestment is a positive action that will pressure Israeli and international policy makers to end the occupation, and strengthens those aspiring and working for justice and peace in the region.
A committee of the Dominican Leadership Conference (DLC).
The DLC is comprised of leaders of 29 provinces and congregations of Dominican friars and nuns
in the United States.)
The U.S. Dominican Palestine Coordinating Committee seeks a just and lasting peace for Palestine and Israel based on human rights and international law. We support the efforts of any community seeking non-violent ways to address injustice, and we applaud and endorse the efforts of the United Methodist denomination to divest its stock holdings from companies that help sustain the occupation of Palestine.
The U. S. Dominican Palestine Coordinating Committee
Pat Chaffee, OP
Chuck Dahm, OP
Stella Goodpasture, OP
Ceil Lavan, OP
Margaret Mayce, OP
Bernie Wombacher, OP
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Above: Ecumenical Delegation of Women Bishops, Israel-Palestine visit, November 2011. Bishop Mary Ann Swenson: front row, second from the left.
36. Tamar Freed
37. Hagar Garti
38. Avner Gilaad
39. Angela Godfrey-Goldstein
40. Neta Golan
41. Tsilli Goldenberg
42. Dina Goor
43. Michal Goren
44. Ohal Grietzer
45. Sarah Grumet
46. Mya Guarnieri
47. Noam Gur
48. Gil Gutglick
49. Amos Gvirtz
50. Connie Hackbarth
51. Ilana Hammerman
52. Shir Hever
53. Iris Hefets
54. Ruth Hiller
55. Guy Hirchfeld
56. Seffy Hurwitz
57. Yael Kahn
58. Michal Kaiser-Livne
59. Dafna Kaminer
60. Reuven Kaminer
61. Liad Kantorowicz
62. Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta
63. Dr. Asaf Kedar
64. Assaf Kintzer
65. Annelien Kisch-Kroon
66. Victor Kozaski
67. Micha Kurz
68. Idan Landau
69. Mihal Leibel
70. Noam Lekach
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