Israel-Palestine Task Force Joins Nonviolent Movement for Peace With Justice In Israel-Palestine

February 10, 2010

By The Rev. Michael Yoshii
Member, Israel-Palestine Task Force 

Many Christians feel hopeless when it comes to achieving a just peace in Israel-Palestine. However, as people of faith United Methodists are called to use non-violent methods to try and end the suffering in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories and to support the Palestinians' right to self-determination, while also seeking peace and security for the State of Israel.
Conference Resolution on Divestment
Toward this end the California-Nevada Annual Conference has charged the Israel-Palestine Task Force with responsibility for implementing "leveraging the power of United Methodist investment portfolios to affect faithful and positive change in the occupied Palestinian territories." This resolution calls on our Annual Conference agencies and local churches to examine the ways in which our financial holdings may be contributing to the violence and injustice fueling the Israel-Palestine conflict. 
The 2008 General Conference resolution "Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land" among other things clearly states the opposition of The United Methodist Church to "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." Our Annual Conference resolution on divestment moves us towards a deeper understanding of our own complicity in the dispossession of the Palestinians, and offers us a nonviolent way to respond to the situation. 
We Are Complicit in the Violence
The underlying reality of the resolution is that, we, the members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, often think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far removed from our own personal responsibility. But the truth is that we are contributing to the spiral of violence. American government policies, some of our corporate businesses, and our hard-earned tax dollars are enabling this injustice to continue. So we have a choice: We can continue to participate in the violence, or we can repent and move toward active nonviolent resistance to the long-festering injustice. Mahatma Gandhi coined the phrase "satyagraha" (out of a combination of the Sanskrit words for "truth," and "holding firmly") to describe an important principle underlying the power of non-violent resistance. Gandhi understood this principle to be the "soul force" that upholds truth, while changing minds and hearts through divine love. Dr. Martin Luther, King Jr. emulated Gandhi in promoting similar principles of non-violent resistance for the Civil Rights movement. 
Our Conference resolution on divestment upholds the truth of Palestinian suffering, calling on us to act with "soul force" in withdrawing our consent to investments which support the ongoing occupation; i.e., the expansion of settlements, building of the separation wall, and other immoral, illegal, unjust, and unwise practices. Working collaboratively with other denominations and organizations in The United Methodist Church, our Israel-Palestine Task Force will be initiating correspondence with companies that:   
·         provide products, services, or technology that sustain, support, or maintain the occupation;
·         have established facilities or operations on occupied land;
·         provide products, services, or financial support for the establishment, expansion, or   maintenance of settlements on occupied land or settlement related infrastructure;
·         provide finances or assist in the construction of Israel's separation wall or settlement infrastructure.
Following our correspondence we will be forwarding information to boards and agencies within our Annual Conference, as well as to local congregations for your review. Our task force members also will be available to boards, agencies, and congregations for consultation on how you might engage in a faith-based process for discerning your actions in response to information provided to you.
Read additional background and supporting information here (in PDF format).