United Methodists Vote Down Israel Divestment Proposals[Excerpts]
Delegates of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church have voted down two proposals that would divest the denomination's funds from companies that did business in Israel.
The measures, which were defeated [May 3, 2012] at the Tampa-based conference, were preceded by emotional lobbying by both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While the divestment proposals were defeated, a more neutral resolution calling for "positive investment" for development in the Palestinian Territories was approved by delegates.
"Positive investment is far more constructive and potentially actually would help people. Anti-Israel divestment merely hits Israel over the head without helping Palestinians or Israelis or furthering the cause of peace," said Tooley.
The UMC Conference's consideration for divestment was a vote that drew much attention from outside the mainline Protestant denomination. Approximately 1,200 American Rabbis signed a statement released around the time of the conference urging Christians to not divest from Israel, declaring that it was a "one-sided approach" to the ongoing conflict in the Holy Land. Palestinian Christians protested outside of the conference.
In a column published in the Tampa Bay Times the day before the vote, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu argued that Israel's actions were akin to the apartheid he resisted decades ago.
[TBC: Many overseas congregations affiliated with mainline U.S. denominations have a higher regard for Scripture and their views are very different, including how the Church should view Israel. Further, some Methodists in the West have different views:
“Whenever I hear that 'The United Methodist Church has taken a stand'…I cringe because there are semi-autonomous boards and agencies that make political statements that are then attributed to the entire denomination. That is wrong. Those agencies don’t speak for the denomination or for me….To be blunt, some of the UN Resolutions seem ludicrous to me. Israel is often made the whipping boy by belligerent tyrants who use the nation of Israel as a distraction from their own tyranny. That leaves me suspect of the resolutions against Israel and the nations that support them.
"It seems to me that Israel is the only true democracy in the entire Middle East. It has been and continues to be a key ally of the United States, as well as a safe haven for persecuted Jews from around the world. Although I do not agree with everything the nation of Israel does, I find myself sympathetic to their cause and circumstances. From the moment of their inception the nation of Israel has faced hostile neighbors who have called for the extermination of Israel and her people" (Pastor Jim Preisig, Lee’s Summit, MO, 5/18/11).]