Anti-Israel Forces Suffer Defeat at Methodist General Conference
I wasn’t able to get to this over the weekend, but it seems there were big doings on Israel at the United Methodists’ General Conference on Saturday. The divestment movement, at least temporarily, was derailed.
The call for divestment had been submitted by half a dozen annual conferences and the General Board of Church and Society. Here’s what it wanted:
The 2012 General Conference calls on The United Methodist Church to end its financial involvement in Israel’s occupation by divesting from companies that sustain the occupation. The 2012 General Conference:
•instructs all United Methodist general boards and agencies to divest promptly from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard until they end their involvement in the Israeli occupation. These companies have been engaged repeatedly by the United Methodist general agencies, boards and annual conferences on this issue.
•calls on all United Methodist general boards and agencies to immediately engage with other companies in their portfolios that have been identified by researchers in United Methodist general boards and 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.
The 2012 General Conference calls on the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits to explore serious peacemaking strategies in Israel and Palestine including positive economic and financial investment in Palestine.
•Asks that all United Methodist general boards and agencies prayerfully consider advocating that all companies formally recognize and adopt into their Codes of conduct the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (also known as the Ruggie Principles) and that the boards and agencies prayerfully consider economic sanctions with companies that refuse to recognize and adopt the Principles.
This change was approved 37-36, and is a significant defeat for the anti-Israel forces. The Church and Society committees at a General Conference generally rubber-stamp whatever the GBCS wants, the real test coming on the floor of the GC. For Jim Winkler and his pals to lose in the committee suggests that their approach will also be rejected by the Conference as a whole. Interestingly enough, neither of the most prominent outside meddlers in Methodist affairs on this issue (the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace) has had anything to say about it. Nor have I been able to find anything from United Methodist Kairos Response or their allies at the PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network. There’s plenty going on behind the scenes, I’m sure, and I’ll let you know about it as soon as it becomes public.
UPDATE: On another but related note, the IPMN has linked on its Twitter site to a borderline anti-Semite named Ben White, writing at one of IPMN’s favorite sites, Electronic Intifada. White makes the mistake of taking on one of the blogosphere’s finest Zionist voices, Elder of Ziyon, who proceeds to take him apart, and in the process expose the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement for what it truly is. IPMN’s link says: Apartheid apologists respond to BDS with fake concern for Palestinians.” EofZ makes clear just how much of a case of projection this is.
UPDATE: Institute on Religion and Democracy writer Jeff Walton reports that the General Conference will be voting on this item at today’s plenary session. More to come.
UPDATE: Turns out they’ve postponed the divestment vote until tomorrow.
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