The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights has a list of over 170 boycott and divestment successes in the United States, as of November 2016, including those in churches: See the list
FOSNA has a timeline of “Church Divestment Wins:” See the timeline
Divestment is a form of nonviolent moral action that has a long and successful history as a tool with which churches can address unjust political systems and/or corporate practices. When U.S. churches use this tool, it sends a strong moral statement to other companies as well as governments and other political and social institutions.
For decades, many Christian denominations have strongly opposed Israel’s occupation and colonizing of Palestinian land. Several churches have engaged in robust and long-term corporate advocacy to address their concerns with companies that are deeply involved in maintaining and profiting from the Israeli occupation: see some history of those efforts in the Resources on this page. That corporate engagement not having produced any positive results, i.e. corporate withdrawal from the occupation, several Christian churches in and beyond the United States have made decisions to divest from such companies.
As the Christians of Palestine have written so eloquently in the “Kairos Palestine Document:”
“Palestinian civil organizations, as well as international organizations, NGOs and certain religious institutions call on individuals, companies and states to engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation. We understand this to integrate the logic of peaceful resistance. These advocacy campaigns must be carried out with courage, openly sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice. The aim is to free both peoples from extremist positions of the different Israeli governments, bringing both to justice and reconciliation. In this spirit and with this dedication we will eventually reach the longed-for resolution to our problems, as indeed happened in South Africa and with many other liberation movements in the world.”
Also addressing the issue of the occupation’s effect on Israeli society, the Jewish group Not In My Name has written on the subject of divestment from the occupation: “We do not believe that such investment plans are, by their very nature either anti‐ Semitic or anti‐Israeli. On the contrary, the Occupation is destroying Israeli society by increasing poverty, violence, and insecurity. Therefore actions that oppose the Occupation are, in fact, pro-Israeli. Furthermore, we believe that such actions are in keeping with our vision of a Judaism that is based on the principle of justice.”
The Israeli occupation is big business. There is currently large international economic support for the occupation from dozens of multinational corporations who have franchises in the settlements, or produce goods there that they export globally, or supply essential materials for construction of the settlements and the Separation Wall, or provide military supplies for the enforcement of the occupation regime. Divesting from any companies so involved is an important step for churches that would not be complicit in the ethnic cleansing, colonization and apartheid regime that Palestinians suffer today.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote to United Methodists when they were deliberating on divestment from the occupation: “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.”
Church decisions and actions to divest from companies that enable and profit from the occupation are significant ways that Christians are acting. See our page for Church Resolutions & Actions in the Resource Directory for many divestment decisions by churches and Christian organizations in the United States, including:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church (which is a global denomination, not just in the U.S.), the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Alliance of Baptists, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quaker agency Friends Fiduciary Corporation, and Quaker-founded American Friends Service Committee.
See below, following the listing of general Resources on divestment, you will find some of the seminal divestment legislation that has been brought to church bodies over the last decade and accompanying resources for those resolutions, as well as other resources on the subject of divesting from the Israeli occupation.
Please note: right now, we have those resources just for the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church. Soon to be added: the Evangelical Church in America, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Many experienced advocacy leaders in the Christian churches who developed these resolutions may be able to advise and aid those who are leading current divestment campaigns. We encourage you to use the listings in our Mapping the Movement section to contact these groups for assistance. Check these page: Denominational Groups & Agencies as well as Ecumenical and Nondenominational and Allied Organizations
Website – investigate.afsc.org
This free investment screening tool is provided to help individuals and institutions identify companies on their investment portfolios that are directly complicit in ongoing severe violations of human rights and international law. Find two choices to investigate: Israel/Palestine and Prisons. Input individual company names or lists of companies and see the results
Website – WhoProfits.org
Exposing the Israeli Occupation Industry: Who Profits is dedicated to exposing the commercial involvement of companies in the continuing Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land. The project publishes information about these companies, produces in-depth reports and serves as an information center.
Website – Global Exchange globalexchange.org/programs/economicactivism
The Economic Activism for Palestine project focuses on corporate accountability for human rights and international law violations of the companies profiting from the occupation in Palestine.
Website – Boycott National Committee (BNC) www.bdsmovement.net
The Palestinian body that initiated the call for the worldwide BDS movement in 2005. Information includes the text of the call in 2005, and many current boycott and divestment campaigns and successes around the world.
AMEU – PDF/Article – WhyDivestment? Why Now? by David Wildman (16 pp)
EPF – PDF/Article – Time for Constructive Divestment, by Gary Commins and Newland Smith Read/Download it
PCUSA – PDF/Report – MRTI Report on Corporate Engagement with Corporation, 2004-2011 (14 pp) – similar information to UMKR report below, plus conclusions regarding engagement and recommendations
Sabeel – PDF/Article – Interfaith Trumps Justice: Response to the Episcopal Bishop’s Vote, by Naim Ateek (3 pp)
Sabeel – PDF/Guide – Responsible Investing Guide (23 pp)
UMKR – PDF/Report – Corporate Engagement, 2004-2011 (6 pp)
UMKR – PDF/Report – Investing Is Not Enough (4 pp)
Church Divestment Resolutions, Actions and Associated Resources
UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST (UCC)
General Synod 2015
Resolution: A Call for the United Church of Christ to Take Actions toward a Just Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Before the General Synod 2015
Article – My Turn: Boycott, divestment are our tools to combat the corrupt
and unjust system of Palestinian occupation, by Rev John Buttrick
Letter – Kairos Palestine’s endorsement of the resolution
Letter – Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s endorsement of the resolution
All endorsement letters for this UCC resolution: See them
All organizations endorsing the resolution: See them
See more information about the resolution and other work of UCC PIN: www.uccpin.org
After the General Synod 2015
What Synod Said, and What It Didn’t—A Summary Guide for UCC Clergy and Members
Implementation Guide – Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel: A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders
Supplement for the Implementation Guide – Resources for Understanding the Resolution
Article – An inside look at the UCC vote to divest from the Israeli occupation, by Rev. Allie Perry
Video: Divestment Movement Gains Steam (news report about UCC divestment) (3 mins), from Al Jazeera America
Article – UCC Action Seeking Peace Between Israel and Palestine, by Rev. Dr John C. Dorhauer
Article – UCC boycotts to press Israel over occupied Palestine, by Rev. Dr. John Deckenback
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Working for a Just and Lasting Peace, from the UMC General Board of Global Ministries and General Board of Church and Society (36 pages)
Quick Facts: United Methodists and Israel/Palestine – includes facts on UMC divestment
Catalog – This is the Kairos – Resources for Education and Advocacy
Web page – Who Supports Divestment – a broad though not comprehensive list of faith-based and secular bodies that support economic advocacy focused on the Israeli occupation. Includes: Churches and Christian Organizations, Interfaith & Other Religious Organizations, Israeli Organizations, Jewish Organizations, Governmental Bodies, Student Bodies and Associations, Trade Unions and Professional Organizations, Businesses and Institutions Severing Ties with the Israeli Occupation.
United Methodist Church Divests from G4S
UMKR Press Release – Largest Mainline Protestant Church in U.S. Divests from Company Involved in Israeli Occupation
NY Times Article – Methodists to Sell Shares as Protest, by Laurie Goodstein
NY Times Article (update/confirmation of purpose of G4S divestment) Methodist Church Group Links Divestment Move to Israel and firms prison role, by Laurie Goodstein
United Methodist Church divests and screens 5 Israeli banks and one Israeli construction company
Press Release – UMKR Welcomes Pension Fund Exclusion and Divestment of Israeli Banks
NY Times Article – US Church Puts 5 Banks From Israel on a Blacklist
UMC Annual Conferences
Press Release – More conferences vote for divestment in 2013
Press Release – Eight more United Methodist regional conferences call for actions to end Israel’s occupation, 2015
UMC General Conference 2016
Resolution – Divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard after Years of Corporate Engagement
Resolution – Divest from Caterpillar for Rejecting UN Guiding Principles and Supplying Weapons
Resolution – Remove from UM Investments Companies Producing Goods or Services in Illegal Settlements on Occupied Land
Resolution – Establishing a Screen to Remove and Avoid Investments in Illegal Settlements on Occupied Land
Before General Conference 2016
Q & A: Divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard after Years of Corporate Engagement
Q & A: Divestment from Caterpillar for Rejecting UN Guiding Principles and Supplying Weapons
Q & A: Avoiding Companies Producing Goods or Services in Illegal Settlements
Q & A: Establishing a Screen to Remove and Avoid Investments in Illegal Settlements
Information on companies that GC 2016 resolutions pertain to:
Companies Profiting from the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territory
Companies Producing Goods and Services in the Israeli Settlements
Companies Producing Goods and Services in the Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara
Collection of Resources for GC 2016 (40 pages)
Includes: • Briefing for GC Delegates • Key Facts on Screens and Divestment • Words are Not Enough brochure • Why Boycott the Settlements • UMKR Response to GBPHB brochure of 2015 • Why Investing in Palestine Cannot Work without Ending the Occupation • Economic Action Works and Can Protect Fiduciaries • A statement about divestment from all living United Methodist missionaries • Endorsement from Jewish Voice for Peace for UM Pension board divestment from Israeli banks • Endorsement from Tikkun for UM Pension board divestment from Israeli banks.
Video and Statement – From the Heart, United Methodist Missionaries Speak Out
Video – Message from Ethel Johnson: African American UMC leader speaks about African University and divestment from the Israeli occupation
Video – Caterpillar Bulldozers, the “iron fist” of the Israeli army; Caterpillar’s violations of human rights and international law.
Article – Caterpillar has NOT adopted the Ruggie Principles
Correcting information being sent throughout the UMC.
See the press release
After General Conference 2016
UMC General Conference 2012
Resolution – Aligning United Methodists Investments with Resolutions on Israel-Palestine
Adopted by General Board of Church & Society and submitted to GC 2016; endorsed by General Board of Global Ministries
Before General Conference 2012
UMKR – The Settlements: Colonizing the Land, Destroying Lives
See it in another format and also in French and Swahili at the UMKR
UMKR – Q&A on Divestment for GC 2012
UMKR – Investing is Not Enough
After General Conference 2012
Article – The Win We Didn’t Expect, by Rev. John Wagner
Article – BDS Scorecard: Methodists recommend sanctions & boycotts; reject divestment, by Anna Baltzer
Find more information about UMKR’s divestment and other advocacy work: www.kairosresponse.org
ACTION OPPORTUNITY: ONLY FOR UMC CLERGY AND LAY EMPLOYEES
WHO PARTICIPATE IN PENSIONS AND BENEFITS FROM WESPATH
Sign a petition to the UMC investment agency Wespath,
asking that they divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation
Sign it here