Sandra Tamari, right, at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference, alongside Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

The Divestment Debate: You’re Invited

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Should the church con­tinue invest­ing in com­pa­nies “prof­it­ing from non-peaceful activ­i­ties in Israel-Palestine”? It is a hotly debated question.

Sandra Tamari, right, at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference, alongside Rabbi Lynn GottliebTwo weeks ago, Unbound explored that question through a series of three articles leading up to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly (June 30 – July 7, 2012), where elected commissioners will vote on whether or not to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions for their roles in the occupation of Palestinian Territories. “Divestment as Investment (in Justice)” presents the issue, context, and essential arguments for divestment. “Debunking the Myth of Positive Investment” examines opposing arguments and alternative proposals. “Opting for Boycott” presents boycotting all products from illegal settlements on occupied land as a further step toward integrity, solidarity, and effectiveness.

Last week, Unbound published a response from the United Methodist Kairos Response: “Israel Targets Palestinian-American Human Rights Activist for Deportation“.

This week, Unbound summarizes the argument and expands the conversation to include other voices, some supporting divestment, some not—some already linked in previous articles, some offering new responses since our series publication. We invite you to send us other voices not represented here, or post your own voice below as a comment.

In Favor of Divestment

Against Divestment

Mapping the Debate

5 Comments

  1. While a presentation of arguments on both sides of the divestment issue really should have been part of the discussion well before this point (when a busy GA is already in session), the inclusion of alternative voices is certainly appreciated.

    However, most of these voices take for granted that the ongoing divest-from-Israel debate is primarily about human rights with Israelis cast in the role of a powerful elite and Palestinians taking the role of the downtrodden.

    But what if the Middle East conflict includes more than just these two players? And what if the reason the church is debating divestment from Israel (and not, say, divestment on behalf of other suffering minorities such as Kurds and Tibetans) is because the Palestinians have wealthy and powerful states in their corner dedicated to ensuring that the human rights spotlight is focused squarely on their political opponents and not on themselves?

    This would mean that far from “speaking truth to power,” the current divestment debate involves the church allying itself with the wealthy and powerful at the expense of – among other things – the truth.

    I understand the desire to frame the discussion entirely in terms of human rights and witness. But the church is being asked to throw its weight and reputation behind one side in a conflict that is primarily political. In such a case, a genuine understanding of the politics behind this decision is long overdue.

    http://www.divestthis.com/2012/06/pcusa-and-israel-politics.html

  2. Thank you for posting this to allow other voices to weigh in.
    Perhaps the single most important question to ask regardless of what course of action we take: is it going to help bring peace or not?
    I would suggest that taking a position that openly blames one side of a complex conflict– and ignores other issues that must be addressed to make peace– puts us in the position of hindering rather than promoting peace. What is in divestment that will make Israelis more secure about doing what they must do? What is in divestment that encourages Palestinians to make the compromises that they must make?
    Given that some of the groups promoting divestment actively oppose peace between a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of Palestine (and none of them promote it), how does this effort promote peace?

  3. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were squandered pushing divestment on the Methodists- now the same is happening with the Presbyterians. The Episcopalians are next in the cross hairs. It feels that Christians are being used as pawns in this battle. If there were truly a humanitarian crisis in disputed Palestinian territories, ( and the International Red Cross says there isn’t) wouldn’t this tremendous amount of time , energy and money be better spent addressing that? And why is it necessary to “help” the Palestinians by hurting the Israelis? What we need to support are programs that enourage peace- joint environmental projects, joint scout troops, shared cultural opportunities for the Palestinian and the Israeli people. Thats the path of peace- not resolutions that blame and punish one side and one side alone in ths very complicated region.

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