On Tuesday May 2nd and Wednesday May 3rd, the United Methodist Church voted against divesting from three companies operating in Israel: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two-thirds of the delegates voted against the proposal, seeing the measure as being destructive and unjust.
It is a blessing that there are people willing to stand on Scripture in the face of popular opinion and to have the insight to see that such a measure would cause more harm than good. One delegate remarked that, though the Methodists care about the Palestinians and what they have been through, they also care about the Israelis and what they have been through and such a measure would be one-sided. Many also stated that rather than divesting from Israel, if they truly care about the Palestinians, they should invest in development in Palestinian areas and in balanced Palestinian education.
Another delegate from Virginia remarked, ”…What the church said is we want a positive step, and we reject punitive measures as a way to bring about peace.” Furthermore, many saw the measure as potentially damaging the only recently repaired relationship between Jews and Christians.
In their response to the proposal, they also accurately pointed out that the proposal presented “a very distorted view of the Middle East” by ignoring the rampant human rights abuses in neighboring countries.
We hope that the Presbyterian Church in the US will also have the wisdom to see these problems and have the righteousness to stand on God’s Word on the matter. The Presbyterian Church is set to deliberate on a similar divestment resolution in a little over a month (June 30-July7). Unfortunately, the Presbyterian Church has an even rockier relationship with Israel than the Methodists, having voted in 2004 on “phased, selective divestment” from Israel. In 2006, after much criticism both within and without, they changed this resolution to focus on “positive outcomes” and to recognize the “realities” in Israel, including Israel’s right to build the security barrier. This was an encouraging step, but many are wary of the upcoming conference due to the inconsistent history.
All who share a faith in Yeshua (Jesus) must continue to ground ourselves in God’s Word while also having compassion for those who are suffering, regardless of religion or ethnicity. We should not deny that the Palestinians are suffering under the weight of Islam and under the necessary security restrictions put in place by Israel. However, these things will not be fully solved until God brings restoration to Israel. Until then, we should not do anything to damage the relationships between the local Believers, both Palestinian and Jewish Believers, and the society they live in. Hopefully, these Believers can be the catalyst to restoration, through God’s Spirit, by first becoming unified among themselves, and then by living as a testimony to Israeli and Palestinian society. This will be the only true constructive solution.
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