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Church Leaders' Letter to Congress, Oct 2012

US Preparing for a post-Israel Middle East?
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United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR)

US Campaign to End the Occupation

Jewish Voice for Peace

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)


IMEU: Institute for Middle East Understanding

IMEU Fact Sheets

Middle East Notes-
from Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns


Mondoweiss

The Electronic Intifada 

Gideon Levy - Articles and Opinion

B'tselem - Human Rights Center

 

Commentary about what is happening today in the Middle East:

Uri Avnery's Column
one of the best Israeli commentators and a leading peace activist

Gideon Levy
cutting edge, thought-provoking commentary

Avraham Burg - Opinion
speaking courageous truth to his nation and the world

James Wall's Wallwritings
a former editor of "The Christian Century" with extensive experience on Mid East affairs

News and editorials from other sources are provided on our website for the convenience of our visitors. Not all items included here will reflect the views or goals of United Methodists' Holy Land Task Force.
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Another great source for recent news and expert analysis on Israel and Palestine:



The Jerusalem Fund
and their educational program,

The Palestine Center

www.thejerusalemfund.org

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From 2011:

News - Jan 2011

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From 2010:
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UMKR is an international peace movement in the United Methodist Church, responding to the urgent call from Palestinian Christians in Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth, calling for effective action supporting a just peace in Israel/Palestine.
    UMKR is active in dozens of annual conferences and mobilizes thousand supportive activists in the U.S., Africa, Europe and Asia.  Learn more about them at: www.kairosresponse.org.
    Our task force, UMHLTF, is an active participant in the UMKR movement.

See below press releases from UMKR.

Read the UMKR press release regarding the results of General Conference 2012 here »
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United Methodist Church Divests from G4S
download this press release »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


June 12, 2014
 
Largest Mainline Protestant Church in U.S. Divests from Company
Involved in Israeli Occupation


Amid concerns raised by church justice advocates, United Methodist Church Pensions
sells all stocks in G4S, a supplier of security services and equipment for Israeli prisons, settlements, checkpoints and Separation Wall.


Los Angeles - The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) of The United Methodist Church, which manages an investment portfolio of over $20 billion, has instructed its investment manager to sell immediately all shares in G4S, due in part to concerns about the company's involvement in human rights violations in the Israeli prison system and the military occupation of Palestinian territories.



According to David Wildman, United Methodist Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice at the General Board of Global Ministries, "This is the first time that a United Methodist general agency has included human rights violations related to Israel's illegal settlements and military occupation in a decision to divest from a company. We celebrate this strong human rights message both to G4S specifically and to other companies whose business operations support longstanding human rights abuses against Palestinians."



In addition, the church agency has placed a moratorium on any future purchases of G4S, the world's largest security company with operations in over 120 countries, until a new investment screen is implemented that addresses human rights violations such as those by the Israeli Defense Forces against Palestinians. 



A top executive of GBPHB contacted United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR) leaders this week about the sale of G4S stocks, informing them that this decision was due in large part to the serious concerns about G4S activities raised by United Methodists seeking a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 



UMKR, a church-wide advocacy movement focused on Israel-Palestine issues, has raised questions within the church for several years about companies in the denomination’s investment portfolio, including G4S, that are involved in the Israeli occupation. "We greatly appreciate the news and we commend the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits for taking this groundbreaking action to address the concerns of many United Methodists about human rights violations in Israel and the occupied territories,” said Rev. John Wagner, UMKR Convener and a church pastor in Ohio.



G4S contracts with the Israeli Prison Service to provide management of security systems at prisons within Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to Amnesty International, B’Tselem an Israeli human rights organization, and Defence for Children International-Palestine, Palestinians held in these prisons, including hundreds of child detainees, are routinely subjected to abuse and torture. G4S also provides equipment and services for Israeli settlements and checkpoints in the West Bank and for the Separation Wall, constructed in violation of international law in Palestinian territory.

Last month, under mounting pressure from an international advocacy campaign, the Gates Foundation also made a decision to sell its holdings in G4S. 



UMKR welcomes the church’s landmark divestment action as part of a larger and long-term process in which United Methodists seek to address human rights issues, including the 47-year-old Israeli occupation, more comprehensively in the denomination's investment decisions.

 

For more information visit UMKR's website at www.kairosresponse.org or contact:

M. Theresa Basile: info@kairosresponse.org, 323-253-9087

Rev. John Wagner, Convener, United Methodist Kairos Response: johnwagnerumkr@gmail.com, 937-269-1661



David Wildman, Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice, General Board of Global Ministries, UMC: dwildman@umcmission.org, 212-870-3735 

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More United Methodists Divest From Companies
Supporting Israel’s Occupation


For immediate release: June 20, 2013
Contact: info@kairosresponse.org

Four United Methodist annual or regional conferences (New England, Minnesota, Pacific Northwest and Upper New York) have voted this month to divest or have their funds divested from companies involved with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. They joined five other conferences (West Ohio, New York, Northern Illinois, California Nevada and California Pacific) which had already taken similar action, bringing the total to nine regional bodies representing thousands of churches.  

The companies targeted in the recent resolutions included Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard and, in one case, General Electric. All play significant roles in the occupation.

In addition, at least five other conferencesi have asked the denomination’s General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to divest its holdings in companies that profit from the occupation.  Two more conferences, Susquehanna and Eastern Pennsylvania, established official task forces this month to examine the issue.

As United Methodists learn about Israel’s land confiscation, home demolitions, and the segregated systems of transportation, water, and laws that discriminate against Christians and Muslims, there is a strong sense that the church must act.  Palestinian Christians have called on churches around the world to help end the occupation of their land.ii

According to John Wagner of United Methodist Kairos Response, “Our denomination has a long history of upholding human rights around the world. The question now is whether we will bring the same resolve to the situation in the Holy Land, where our fellow Christians have asked for our help.”

The divestment movement has gained momentum as illegal Israeli settlements expand on Palestinian land and Israeli attacks on Christians and Muslims increase.  In 2012, Friends Fiduciary Committee, which handles investments for the Quaker denomination, divested from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Veolia Environnement because of their involvement in the occupation. This spring, the Mennonite Church and the American Friends Service Committee declared twenty nine companies profiting from the occupation ineligible for investment.

Divestment is a nonviolent form of economic protest long used to encourage companies to end unjust practices.  The church has engaged for yearsiii in dialog with Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola Solutions about their role in Israel’s occupation. Those calling for divestment say it will strengthen the church in future negotiations by providing a consequence for ignoring the church’s concerns.  

In 2012, Caterpillar stock was downgraded by MSCI, a prestigious ratings agency, and then dropped from the socially responsible portfolios of the giant US pension fund, TIAA CREF, which divested $72 million of Caterpillar stock.  At that time the company’s role in the occupation was given as a reason.iv  Large European pension funds have also divested from companies involved with the occupation.  According to Susanne Hoder of the New England Conference, “Divestment is a good move financially and an essential move morally for the church.”

About UMKR: United Methodist Kairos Response is a global grassroots network of laity and clergy within the United Methodist Church working to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.  Responding to an urgent call from Palestinian Christians, UMKR advocates principled investment decisions and consumer choices that will have an impact on the occupation.  Through research, education and advocacy, UMKR supports non-violent means of securing a just peace for all the peoples of Israel and Palestine. For more information, see www.kairosresponse.org
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[i] Virginia (2005), Rocky Mountain (2006), North Central NY (2006), Baltimore Washington (2007), Detroit (2010).
[ii] http://www.kairospalestine.ps/
[iii] https://www.kairosresponse.org/Corporate_Engagement_04-11.html
[iv] http://forward.com/articles/158433/israel-was-key-issue-in-caterpillar-dump/.