Divestment: 11 Things to Know

Learn more about the issue of Divestment in regards to the conflict in Israel-Palestine and its place in the United Methodist General Conference 2016.

One of the most controversial topics to be addressed at the upcoming United Methodist General Conference in May 2016 is the issue of Divestment. Divestment is an initiative to pull United Methodist funds from companies that are active in the pro-Israel/anti-Palestine movement and have been involved in acts of injustice against the Palestinian population.

What to know:

  1. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a complex issue that started in the mid-20th century and is based on land rights in the West Bank and Gaza. Major issues include control of Jerusalem, mutual recognition, borders, and security. Check out this video for a detailed breakdown of the conflict.
  2. The United Methodist Church has significant financial assets, which it can use to promote justice. 
  3. The General Conference passed Resolution 312 in 2004 which states: “The United Methodist Church opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements, and any vision of a 'Greater Israel' that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings.” In 2012, the UMC adopted this resolution with even stronger wording.
  4. The United Methodist Church invests in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard (HP Software).
  5. Caterpillar’s bulldozers were used to tear down Palestinian homes in the Gaza strip resulting in over 30,000 people becoming homeless.
  6. Hewlett-Packard (HP) scanners are said to be used as mechanisms to racially profile and track the movement of Palestinian people.
  7. Motorola’s products are used in surveillance systems, in communications network, and in electronic fuses used for cluster bombs.
  8. In 2012 it was reported that roughly $5 million of the $17 billion United Methodist pension fund was invested in Caterpillar stock.
  9. The structure of the United Methodist Church and the complexity of this issue means that a small percentage of the church makes these decisions. Click here to find a briefing on the matter created by the United Methodist Kairos Response for delegates attending General Conference 2016.
  10. “Divestment is not about being anti-Israel, it’s about being against practices like building settlements on someone else’s land at gunpoint, which is unacceptable.” David Wildman, Global Ministries, Executive Secretary, Middle East, Human Rights & Racial Justice.
  11. Over 400 different organizations have worked together in the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.


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Reflecting on Divestment

The following Reflection is based on the Encounter, "Divestment: 11 Things to Know". Reflect on these questions individually or with a group.

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  1. Should faith organizations be held to a higher standard when they are investing money?
  2. Where should faith organizations invest?
  3. Does that change the way we look at our personal investments and spending practices? Are our practices harmful? 
  4. "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." 1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV) What does this mean for faith based businesses, smaller communities, and our own lives?
  5. How can we be agents of change?

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Take Action

How to be Active in Divestment

This Action provides many ways to get involved with Divestment and the people affected by this tragic conflict.

  1. Get involved with one of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation's "Days of Action".
  2. Boycott the companies whose products are involved in gross acts of injustice toward the Palestinian population.
  3. Support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency which was created for the purpose of assisting Palestinian refugees in 1949. They work to provide emergency assistance, relief and social services, healthcare, education, micro-finance opportunities for persons affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  4. Sign-up for the United Methodist Kairos Response's newsletter and stay up to date with current campaigns. There are many ways to help from home!
  5. Add your name to the list of UMC clergy and employees participating in the General Board's service asking the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) to divest from the Israeli occupation. See the Divestment Resolutions for this year's General Conference.
  6. Give a presentation to your local community or small group using UMKR's "Boycott PowerPoint".
  7. Find resources here to educate yourself on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the issue of Divestment within the United Methodist Church.
  8. -10. Tweet the facts!


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