The Steering Committee of the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, on Sunday, called on the United Church of Christ Board, United Church of Christ Pension Boards, United Church Funds, Conferences, local churches, members and other related United Church of Christ entities to divest any holdings in companies profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel.The Committee also called on the church and church members to study the Kairos Palestine document and take heed of its call for solidarity with the Palestinian people.
This is one of a number of resolutions passed by regional committees, including the Central Atlantic Conference, the New York Conference and, now, the Central Pacific Committee, in the leadup to the Thirtieth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, which will be held in 2015.
In their resolution, the Committee named the following companies, but said that the divestment should not necessarily be limited to these companies: Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard Development Company LP, G4S, and Veolia Environment and its subsidiaries;
The resolution also calls upon all entities of the church to boycott goods produced by Israeli companies
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including, but not limited to, Ahava skin care products, SodaStream products and Hadiklaim dates, and calls upon church members to join boycotts in their local communities.
This is not the first resolution passed by United Church of Christ committees and Synods on this issue. The UCC was one of the first churches to heed the 2005 call of Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli products, although at that time the church did not call for the divestment from Israeli occupation-connected companies, the UCC did call for an investigation of Israeli policies and criticized the Israeli Wall in the West Bank and called for the Wall to be dismantled.
The new resolution, in addition to the call for divestment, also calls upon the UCC Collegium Officers and church members to request Congress to investigate whether US military aid given to Israel violates US laws and, specifically, the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act.
If passed by the church as a whole at the Synod in 2015, this would mark the strongest resolution for divestment passed by an international church community. The Presbyterian Church voted to divest earlier this year, but was careful to distance itself from the larged Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement challenging the Israeli military occupation through economic pressure.
Maryn Goodson, a member of a grassroots group within the UCC that has pushed for a non-violent end to the conflict, told reporter Anthony Moujaes, who writes for the United Church of Christ news website, ‘What happens now… we will continue to inform and educate more and more people in various conferences on the Palestine-Israel conflict, and the need for a bold action. We’ll work with more conferences on this issue, and with delegates to the General Synod to shed light and awareness. The UCC has really been on the leading edge with this.’