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Methodists vote on divestments

Posted by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 7:36 PM
  • 23 Replies
1 mom liked this

From Tampa to CBS, the Light Is Shining Through

Change is in the air. I’m writing you from Tampa Bay, Florida, where the United Methodist Church General Conference is voting on a resolution to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard due to the companies’ involvement in the Israeli occupation. United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR), the US Campaign member group leading the effort, is joined by the US Campaign and people of conscience of all faiths and backgrounds united in support for our Methodist allies in aligning their words – more than forty years of resolutions condemning the occupation  with action, in response to a call to do so from thousands of Palestinian Christians in the 2009 Kairos Palestine Document.

Conversations are happening not only in Tampa, but around the country and beyond. Last Sunday, 60 Minutes ran a segment entitled "Christians of the Holy Land," with Bob Simon, shedding light on the struggles of Palestinian Christians living under Israel's brutal military occupation and apartheid policies. In the segment, Palestinian Christians affirm their unity with Palestinian Muslims in struggling against oppression. In his interview with Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, Simon upbraids the ambassador for objecting to the story before it was even completed and exposes how the Israeli government tried to censor the story. 

Please take a moment to thank 60 Minutes for giving voice to Palestinian Christians and encourage them to do additional features.

The piece introduced millions of Americans to the brutalities and injustices inflicted by Israel on the Palestinian people, and the lengths to which Israel and its apologists will go to try to prevent these stories from coming to light. But the light is shining through.

This morning, the Tampa Bay Times published this article by members of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, a US Campaign member group, in support of divestment. Similar blogs and videos are being posted on the Methodist vote left and right. It’s a lot to keep up with, but you can follow the action on Twitter at #ChurchDivest and www.rabbisletter.org, which is being updated regularly. 

Here in Tampa, it is clear that the discourse is changing. I have been inspired and humbled by conversations with United Methodists from around the world who are grounded in the church’s proud tradition of heeding the calls of the oppressed to take nonviolent, moral action. Every bit as inspiring has been the outpouring of support from people like you. If you haven’t done so yet, please sign the UMKR petition in favor of the resolution. 

And please don’t forget to thank CBS for lifting up the voices of Palestinian Christians

Their cries for justice -- for all Palestinians, regardless of religion -- are being heard here in Tampa and in living rooms across the country. Yes, change is in the air. 

With excitement and anticipation, 

Anna BaltzerAnna Baltzer signature
Anna Baltzer
National Organizer

by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 7:36 PM
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muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Divestment will help ease Palestinian suffering

By Michael Berg, Hala Abdelaziz and Sandra Tamari, special to the Times
In Print: Wednesday, April 25, 2012


The United Methodist Church is holding its General Conference in Tampa. One of the most important, and unfortunately controversial, resolutions to be taken up is the Palestinians' request for the world community to help them end the 44-year Israeli occupation.

We, a Jewish American, a Palestinian Muslim and a Palestinian Christian, support the Palestinians in their struggle for justice and freedom. We believe the Methodist Church's proposed resolution to divest from multinational companies profiting from the Israeli occupation will aid in ending Palestinian suffering.

Tragically, the Israeli occupation continues to strangle Palestinian society. Israeli political and religious leaders threaten Palestinians with transfer out of their homeland, enforce the occupation of the West Bank with incredible violence, and continue the naval blockade of Gaza which keeps the people there in dangerous deprivation. In the last 20 years, illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank have increased from 241,500 inhabitants to some 500,000, including East Jerusalem.

Israel's occupation practices impose severe hardships on residents. Palestinians routinely find themselves trapped by barriers and the Israeli separation wall — unable to visit family members, friends, schools, businesses and places of worship. Death, injury or arrest is a distinct possibility, even for nonviolent protesters demonstrating against home demolitions or land confiscation.

Palestinians, long denied freedom through negotiations with the Israeli government, have asked for the world to intervene in a humane and moral way to ensure that equality and justice are honored. Palestinian Christians issued the Kairos Palestine Document, "A Moment of Truth," in 2009 (Read the document in full at http://www.kairospalestine.ps/):

We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation. … The cruel circumstances in which the Palestinian Church has lived and continues to live have required the Church to clarify her faith and to identify her vocation. … Today, we bear the strength of love rather than that of revenge, a culture of life rather than a culture of death.

The document asks the international community to implement nonviolent tactics, such as divestment, to end the occupation.

Similarly, we urge the Methodist Church to divest from multinational companies that support the Israeli occupation. Divestment is required if we are to press Israel to uphold equality for all people in Israel and Palestine. Such pressure is long overdue and urgently needed for Palestinians. In fact, we believe that pushing for an end to the occupation and equal rights for Palestinians is fully consistent with securing a safer and better region for Jewish Israelis as well.

Forty years ago most of the land in and around Bethlehem was owned and inhabited by Christians. Today, the majority of the land is held, patrolled and settled by Israelis. For thousands of years people traveled freely between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, located just 5 miles away. Now there is a wall separating the two holy cities. Thousands of people are separated from family, friends, work and religious sites on the other side. Under these conditions of occupation, Christians by the thousands are making the painful decision to leave the site of Jesus' birth and make a life elsewhere. (See a 60 Minutes report from Sunday at tinyurl.com/tbt-60minutes.)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has asserted: "In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom and just peace without the help of people around the world, who through the use of nonviolent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime." This past summer in a Charlotte Observer column he noted "the apartheid perpetrated in the Holy Land" and encouraged "retirement giant" TIAA-CREF "to refuse to profit from oppression of a people, and thus to stand on the side of what is right: a safe, secure and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis."

Likewise, we appeal to the delegates of the Methodist General Conference to vote in favor of divestment from Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard, so long as these companies profit from the mayhem in the Holy Land.

Michael Berg is a Jewish native of St. Louis who bakes bread and does environmental activism. Hala Abdelaziz is a Palestinian-American who lived in the West Bank from 1995-1999. Sandra Tamari is a Palestinian-American Quaker who lives outside St. Louis.


[Last modified: Apr 24, 2012 04:04 PM]

Copyright 2012 Tampa Bay Times

smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Apr. 25, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Unfortunately, the Methodist church seems to be loosing a lot of members to the mega churches. At least that's what's happening around here. :(

muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2012 at 8:23 PM


Quoting smalltowngal:

Unfortunately, the Methodist church seems to be loosing a lot of members to the mega churches. At least that's what's happening around here. :(

:(

smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Apr. 27, 2012 at 2:52 PM


Quoting muslimahpj:


Quoting smalltowngal:

Unfortunately, the Methodist church seems to be loosing a lot of members to the mega churches. At least that's what's happening around here. :(

:(

It is a bit sad but I guess where they don't focus on the hot topics and more on community work, people don't hear about us as much. 

muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Apr. 28, 2012 at 9:21 AM


Quoting smalltowngal:


Quoting muslimahpj:


Quoting smalltowngal:

Unfortunately, the Methodist church seems to be loosing a lot of members to the mega churches. At least that's what's happening around here. :(

:(

It is a bit sad but I guess where they don't focus on the hot topics and more on community work, people don't hear about us as much. 

True. Im just not a fan of mega churches.

12hellokitty
by Ruby Member on Apr. 28, 2012 at 9:27 AM
2 moms liked this

Why only the concern for Palestinian Christians?  Christians all around the world are facing persecution....

muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Apr. 28, 2012 at 9:31 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting 12hellokitty:

Why only the concern for Palestinian Christians?  Christians all around the world are facing persecution....

Because no one esle shows concern for them. It's not just about the christians there, it's about all Palestinians.

jllcali
by on Apr. 28, 2012 at 11:38 AM
1 mom liked this
Do you have proof of companies funding said persecution? The group in the op would probably divest from those companies as well.

Quoting 12hellokitty:

Why only the concern for Palestinian Christians?  Christians all around the world are facing persecution....

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Sisteract
by Whoopie on Apr. 28, 2012 at 11:41 AM
1 mom liked this

Amen- walk the walk or stop the rhetoric.

smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Apr. 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM
I think methodists generally try to walk the walk. They uaually stay out of political topics. The only political issue Ive seen a pastor talk about was a sign too vote against raising the amount payday places can charge.

Quoting Sisteract:

Amen- walk the walk or stop the rhetoric.



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