What are other churches doing?
“A quarter-century ago I barnstormed around the United States encouraging Americans, particularly students, to press for divestment from South Africa. Today, regrettably, the time has come for similar action to force an end to Israel's long-standing occupation of Palestinian territory and refusal to extend equal rights to Palestinian citizens who suffer from some 35 discriminatory laws.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2012)
There are a variety of church responses to the injustices occurring in Palestine. Some are boycotting all companies that profit from the Occupation, others are divesting in companies, and others, like the UCA are engaging in a settlement boycott.
(the following is adapted from http://www.united-church.ca/social-action/justice-initiatives/what-are-other-churches-doing-palestine-and-israel)
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has long supported non-violent action in support of Palestine – for example in 2007 the WCC resolved to:
Invite member churches and faithful to give moral and practical support to non-violent acts of resistance to the confiscation of land, the destruction of Palestinian properties and the eviction of people from their homes and lands, as the central committee recommended in 2001.
In 2014 an international church conference supported by the WCC was held in Bethlehem to mark the 5th anniversary of the Kairos Palestine document. It requested the worldwide church to undertake five actions in support of Palestine:
- Listening carefully to Palestinian Christian voices
- Continued theological exploration and critique
- Active participation in creative resistance
- Continued promotion of economic pressures (including boycott)
- An inclusive vision of just peace throughout the Middle East.
More recently, the WCC Central Committee meeting in June 2016 issued a statement, noting:
Against all the pressures of desperation, provocation and incitement to violence, the WCC has sought to encourage and accompany Palestinian people and communities, and member churches and partners throughout the world, in their efforts to resist occupation, including through economic measures such as divestment from companies profiting from the occupation and boycotting goods produced in illegal settlements on occupied territory. Such actions seek to advance the cause of peace with justice in Israel and Palestine through active non-violent means, using criteria rooted in faith.
- The WCC has established the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF), to “catalyse and coordinate new and existing church advocacy for peace, aimed at ending the illegal occupation in accordance with UN resolutions, and demonstrate its commitment to inter-religious action for peace and justice that serves all the peoples of the region.” https://pief.oikoumene.org/en
- The National Council of Churches in Australia, supported by the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network in Australia, is arranging a Church Leaders visit to Palestine-Israel in 2017. The purpose of the visit is to meet firsthand with Christian leaders and agencies in Palestine and to learn from them of the situation in Palestine-Israel, thus accompanying the “living stones”, the Palestinian Christians in the land of Jesus; meet with representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government and the Australian Representative in Palestine to hear their perspectives on the situation in Palestine-Israel; visit the holy sites and meet with Israeli groups.
- The Presbyterian Church USA voted to boycott “all products made by enterprises in Israeli settlements on [occupied] Palestinian land” at its General Assembly in 2012.
- The Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ adopted a resolution calling for boycott and divestment from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories in 2014 ()
- The British Methodist Church voted to boycott Israeli settlement products in 2010, the first major Christian denomination in Britain to do so.
- In Britain, Quakers UK voted in 2011 to boycott all products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
- The United Church of Canada called on its members to “avoid any and all products produced in the settlements.” In 2012 and in 2015, passed a resolution “initiating and developing a program of education and advocacy in cooperation with our partners, related to divestment from and economic sanctions against all corporations and institutions complicit in and benefiting from the illegal occupation,”
Want to learn more?
The WCC’s recent statement on Israel-Palestine can be found here. More information on other church initiatives in relation to Israel-Palestine can be found here.