As expected, the United Methodist Church has rejected a resolution calling for the divestment of three companies doing business with Israel.
Despite a high-profile lobbying campaign by pro-divestment activists, delegates to the governing body of the 12-million-member United Methodist Church voted Wednesday 685-246 to reject the resolution that would have instructed the denomination’s General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to sell investments in Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola (see earlier story). Proponents of the resolution had argued the three firms profit from Israel’s military presence in the West Bank.
Opponents of divestment, however, contended that such a move would undercut a biblical mandate. Larry Price, a United Methodist delegate from Georgia, addressed the delegates at the Tampa meeting. “All the support we’re talking about for the Palestinians is totally against all that God has told us for Israel, who is only defending the rights they have to the land that God gave them,” stated Price.
Mark Tooley (IRD)Mark Tooley, president of The Institute on Religion & Democracy, tells OneNewsNow: “The decision of United Methodists to forgo divestment is a rejection of simplistic, one-sided blame that characterizes anti-Israel advocacy.”
With Wednesday’s vote, the UMC has opted to retain its existing policy of positive engagement with Israelis and Palestinians. Tooley is hopeful other churches will follow United Methodists in resisting calls to pressure Israel alone into making concessions.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly will consider a similar anti-Israel divestment proposal in June.