The United Methodist Church in the United States will be deciding on a crucial proposal at their upcoming 2012 General Conference. This proposal “calls on the United Methodist Church to end its financial involvement in Israel’s occupation by divesting from companies that sustain the occupation.” Proposal 21071-FA-Non-Dis, “Aligning UMC Investments with Resolutions on Israel/Palestine”
Proponents claim that this is not a proposal aimed at being “anti-Israel” or “anti-Semitic,” yet they fail to explain how these companies are supporting an “occupation” or how Israel’s actions can be described as an “occupation.” Members also stress that Jerusalem is a city that is “holy to three faiths,” (http://unitedmethodistdivestment.com/) implying that it should not belong to Israel, despite the Scriptural basis for such ownership, and also suggesting that Israel does not allow Islamic or Christian worship, which is completely false. Though Israel has not always treated native Believers or Muslims fairly, they are treated far better than minority groups anywhere else in the Middle East and are able to worship freely. The truth is that, currently, Muslims are allowed to worship at the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock area far more easily than Jewish worshipers, who are barred from entering the Temple Mount the majority of the time.
Furthermore, similarly to other divestment groups, they disparage things like “checkpoints, the separation wall…” but do not offer any other viable solutions to the security problem or consider the difficult position that Israel is in.
While Israel is far from perfect, sometimes discriminating against minorities and sometimes acting out of selfish interests, it is far from the dictatorship that many who seek to delegitimize Israel would make it seem. Israel has not been restored yet and continues to operate as many powerful governments in Western nations do.
There is a spiritual root to this vehement need to delegitimize and incite hate towards Israel and there are spiritual consequences for those who take part. In Genesis 12:3, God tells Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Furthermore, Joel 3:1-3 contains a harsh warning of judgment against all nations who took part in dividing the Holy Land.
Moreover, the United Methodist Church would be ignoring many Scriptures about the birth of the nation of Israel being a fulfillment of Scripture (Isaiah 66:8, Ezekiel 20:34, Isaiah 11:11-12, Isaiah 43: 5-6, 21). Though this nation will also include Gentiles who are to be treated as sons of Israel and to be given an equal inheritance (Ezekiel 47:23), it is clearly a land that is serving the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and is not a divided land. Both Israel and the Palestinians have a long ways to go before such a thing would be possible and it will only be in a restored nation that the people of Israel could get over their distrust of Gentiles to allow such.
However, divesting from Israel will not encourage things along but, rather, will only serve to confirm Israel’s fear of non-Jewish groups, especially Christians. There is a very long history of hatred and anti-Semitism from the Church, the very institution that should have been the most supportive of the Jewish people. Such a proposal can only further alienate Christians and Jews from each other, which will also further complicate the relations that Believers within Israel have with the Israeli government and Israelis.
Many look at Israel in its current state and may not see many reasons for support. It is true that Israel makes mistakes and even has policies that are not fair. It is also true that, in the name of security, the Palestinians have a very hard time moving freely between Israel and the Palestinian controlled areas and that many are suffering due to the actions of those who seek to destroy Israel. These are realities one cannot ignore. Believers who truly desire a just and compassionate response that does not ignore God’s Word should pray for both a revival among the Palestinians and for the restoration of Israel. Realistically, the situation in Israel will not be solved until such restoration has happened, despite many attempts at physical solutions, such as divestment and a two-state solution.
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