Largest US Protestant Church Votes Again on BDS
America's largest Protestant Christian denomination, the United Methodist Church, is again voting this week on whether to join the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, just a week after it divested from a security company with Israeli ties.
The Church divested its $110,000 stock holdings in the British company G4S last week. The company supplies security equipment to Israel, equipment used to protect Jews in Judea and Samaria, as well as to secure Israeli prisons holding terrorists, reports the New York Times.
This week, the Church will hold its general assembly in Detroit, and vote on divestiture from three companies that supply equipment to Israel: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola. The Church's holdings reportedly collectively equal $21 million in the companies.
A similar motion against the same three companies failed two years ago, missing by a mere two votes - 333 to 331 with two abstentions.
However, a resolution was passed at the time denouncing the “occupation” and Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, calling for “all nations to prohibit the import of products made by companies in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”
This time the results may be different, particularly on the heels of the divestment last week, which was an independent action of the Church's General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
Rev. Jeffrey DeYoe of the Church's Israel Palestine Mission Network, which advocates against Israel, praised the new vote, reports Fox News.
"I remember in 2006, the use of the word 'occupation' in General Assembly circles - it was like using a bad word. You just didn't say it and when you said it sounded outrageous. We've come a long way from there," stated DeYoe.
On the other side George Douglas, a Presbyterian member of the steering committee of Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, a body that opposes BDS, condemned the move the Church is contemplating.
"It's become more and more clear that the BDS movement is hostile to Israel and does not support a two-state solution," said Douglas. "If you vote for divestment, you place the church in the BDS camp."
The Church has been fading in attendance and influence for decades according to Fox News, which notes that only 1.8 million members were recorded last year. Nevertheless, the American news site acknowledges it would be the most prominent American religious group to support BDS till now if the vote goes through.
It is worth noting that the 2012 Levy report found that Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria, the Biblical heartland of the Jewish state, is completely legal under international law.