The final two tiers of the BDS movement are divestment and sanctions. Divestment calls for the withdrawal of stocks and funds from corporations in Israel or those who have investment portfolios and public funds used to finance or purchase products and services from Israeli companies. Sanctions are to be applied at a military, economic, and diplomatic level on state and global institutions. For example, we have recently seen a group of former EU leaders urging the union to apply international sanctions on Israel.
Divestments and sanctions against Israel are being petitioned on a public, national and international scale. Not only individuals and small, organized groups are calling for boycotts, but in addition we are seeing governments, financial institutions and large multi-national corporations divesting sizeable funds from Israel in recent years. In 2012, Norway’s finance minister announced that a state fund that is Europe’s largest equity investor ceased investments of approximately $1.4 million in an Israeli construction company. PGGM, a large Dutch pension fund, made a decision in 2015 to liquidate millions of euros of its holdings from five Israeli banks. In Britain, France, Spain and elsewhere in Europe, the BDS initiative to ban products from Israel is spreading across the continent; entire cities and towns are declaring themselves “Israel-free zones” where no Israeli products are bought or sold.
Most recently, in November 2015 the European Union officially announced that it would be labeling all goods produced beyond the Green Line including Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights in a motion that will steer potentially hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars away from the Israeli economy. Sadly, not only will the Israeli economy and hundreds of companies that export their products to Europe be financially hurt, but also the thousands of Israeli and Palestinians workers will pay the heavy price. As of 2015, there are 890 Israeli factories in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley and they employ 24,000 workers. Of these, 15,000 are residents in the regions governed by the Palestinian Authority, and the numbers continue to grow. Between 2011-2015, the number of factories in Judea and Samaria increased by 30% from 680 to 890. During that same time frame, the number of Palestinian employees has grown by 24%, from 12,300 in 2011 to 15,000 in 2015. The results of this new labeling policy will work against the original intentions of the European Union and in the end make the lives of honest, hard-working Israelis and Palestinians much more difficult.
Unfortunately it is not only the secular world that is adopting the call to boycott and divest from Israel, but also the body of believers internationally has begun to join the movement. In 2014, the Presbyterian Church in the United States officially sold their stocks worth $21 million from three major corporations that have contracts with Israel, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar. Furthermore, the Methodist Church in America has divested from the British security company G4S for their business with the Israel Prison Service. These are not single, individual churches, but umbrella institutions that serve as a representative of millions of Christians in the United States.
What is this saying about the nations and world we live in? Even more so, what does this say about the body of believers in the West? Many believers, due in large part to the media, do not have a proper understanding of Israel nor the Middle East conflict that surrounds this tiny Jewish nation. It is accurate to say that since the foundation to the State of Israel and even prior, disputes over this sacred land and territories have led to wars, displacement, disparity and regretfully many innocent lives being lost. Until today, there is an ongoing battle both spiritually and in the natural between the Palestinians and Israelis over land, rights, power and religious authority.
Much to our dismay, we have seen many good intentioned and good-hearted believers turn against Israel as a stand in solidarity for the rights and suffering of the Palestinian people, a view that is oftentimes distorted by mainstream media. History has brought much devastation and suffering to both the Palestinian and Jewish people and there is a great cry for justice and righteousness for both. However, we would like to call on our friends and fellow believers to not fall so easily into the world’s way of thinking by choosing sides. It is important for us to act in wisdom when we decide to take a position in the complicated matter of Israeli-Arab affairs. One must fully understand the facts, history, and realities on the ground in Israel before making claims of who is the “oppressor” and who is the “oppressed.” There are two very opposing narratives between two differing people groups in the land of Israel.
Even more importantly, for believers who profess a faith in God and belief in His son Yeshua, it is imperative that you let the Bible be your guide for understanding God’s plan and how we, as His children, are to be a part of those plans. We must let the Word of God, and not the world, teach us what justice is and how He desires to bring it about. God loves all of His creation and has a special plan to bring salvation to all the peoples and nations of the earth. This is why, as believers, we should always maintain a heart of pray and faith that causes us to be light in the darkness. God has placed Israel and the Jewish people at the center of His plans and after thousands of years God remains faithful to His covenants and promises to bring them back to the Land that He once gave them.
Let’s be clear, supporting Israel has nothing to do with favoring Jews over Muslims, Israelis over Palestinians, or the West against the East. Nor is it an argument over which side has suffered more injustices. Supporting Israel does not come at the exclusion of one people or another, it means standing on the Word of God as the main authority and direction in your life. We stand with Israel because God has made covenants with the people of Israel for His namesake alone. We stand with God and trust that His plans will bring a greater peace and justice to the world than any artificial terms that man can offer.
In conclusion, we ask that you will begin to discuss this issue in your homes, congregations and communities. We must approach this concern with a correct understanding and interpretation of the Bible and God’s plans. In general, we should be striving for this continually in our walk with God, but also when it comes to having a biblical perspective on the Land of Israel, the covenants of God with the people of Israel, and what that means for current day realities.
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