This Resolution passed in the General Synod by 80%!
A CALL FOR THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST TO TAKE ACTIONS
TOWARD A JUST PEACE IN THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
A Resolution of Witness
THE TEXT OF THE MOTION
The psalmist celebrates, “How good it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 133) Yet today the Middle East is torn by disunity between Semitic brothers and sisters separated by “dividing walls of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14) We hear the call of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) - and we are reminded that we must conduct ourselves with kindness and humility even as we seek to counteract injustice anywhere and to stand in solidarity with its victims everywhere.
As disciples of Jesus, we hear and seek to heed his call to be peacemakers: responding to violence with non-violence and extending love to all. In the words of the Kairos Palestine document, “True Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed, a call to justice and equality among peoples.” (Kairos Palestine 2009 – “A Moment of Truth”)1
THEREFORE, in the spirit of the witness of the psalmist and ancient prophets and of the ministry of Jesus the Christ, we offer this resolution.
WHEREAS, in 1985 the 15th General Synod of the United Church of Christ committed itself to be a Just Peace Church;2
WHEREAS, historically the United Church of Christ has affirmed Israel’s right to exist within secure and internationally recognized boundaries (GS 163 and GS 184) and asserted the rights of Palestinians to enjoy sovereignty in an independent, contiguous, and viable state of their own, within secure and recognized boundaries (GS 16 , GS 17,5 and GS 18;
WHEREAS, past General Synods have identified the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and its human rights abuses committed therein to be a major source of conflict and have called for the end of the construction and expansion of settlements (GS 18  and GS 216;
WHEREAS, the various expressions of the United Church of Christ have a long history of effectively using boycotts against products and policies (lettuce, grapes, infant formula, apartheid, etc.) to address injustices;
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ is deeply committed to interfaith relationships and General Synods have confessed to the sin of anti-Semitism and proclaimed its renunciation (GS 23 )7 and have denounced actions against Islam or Muslims based on ignorance or fear (GS 28 );8
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ has historically stressed the importance of living out a Covenantal theology, whereby diverse autonomous organizations covenant to collaborate for the common good, and that through such Covenantal relationships the United Church of Christ has partnered globally with those most impacted by the continuing conflict between Palestinians and Israel;
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ recognizes the complexity of the conflict and that it has caused suffering for both Palestinians and Israelis;
WHEREAS, as demonstrated through ongoing dialogue and partnerships, the United Church of Christ values and nurtures its relationships with Jewish groups in the U.S. and Israel who seek justice, equality, and freedom for both peoples, including groups with differing perspectives on the conflict;
WHEREAS, Palestinians in the West Bank have lived since 1967 under Israeli military occupation that subjects them to many human rights abuses, including: loss of their land for the purpose of building Israeli settlements; limited access to their land and to each other on account of the route of the Separation Wall on occupied Palestinian territories; systematic displacement into small, non-contiguous geographic enclaves separated by barriers and checkpoints; gross inequality in the amount of water allocated to them; severe and arbitrary travel restrictions; limited access to holy sites; segregated roads; demolition of their homes; destruction of their crops by settlers and the Israeli army; and arbitrary arrest, even of children;9
WHEREAS, the Israeli government has once again subjected Palestinians in Gaza to military attacks using deadly force beyond that necessary for Israel’s acknowledged need for self-defense and thereby beyond that measure of proportionate response permitted by historically Christian just war theory, 10 has destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure and economy, and has imposed: severe limits on personal entry and on the entry of products essential to Gazans’ well-being; fishing limits in violation of international law and the Oslo accords; and strict control of electronic communications, as well as of air and sea space;11
WHEREAS, Israel has annexed Palestinian East Jerusalem and separated it from the West Bank and Gaza and continues to appropriate Palestinian properties there for Jewish settlements and to deny building permits to Palestinians, as well as to revoke the residency rights of many of its Palestinian citizens there;12
WHEREAS, Israel refuses to end, but rather has sought to solidify, its occupation of territory conquered in the 1967 War, leading to numerous illegal actions and human rights abuses by the Israeli government and military in defiance of United Nations resolutions,13 and refuses to respect the 4th Geneva Convention as called for by the International Court of Justice in its opinion concerning the Separation Wall in the occupied Palestinian territories;14
WHEREAS, our Palestinian Christian partners, seeking an alternative to violence born of hopelessness and despair, have authored Kairos Palestine 2009 - ‘A Moment of Truth’: A Word of Faith, Hope, and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering as a call and summons to their global partners to engage in non-violent measures that will pressure Israel to end the Occupation;15
WHEREAS, the resolution “Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East,” passed by the General Synod in 2005, calls upon “the Covenanted Ministries, Pension Boards, United Church Foundation, local churches and members to use economic leverage, including, but not limited to: advocating the reallocation of US foreign aid so that the militarization of the Middle East is constrained; making positive contributions to groups and partners committed to the non-violent resolution of the conflict; challenging the practices of corporations that gain from the continuation of the conflict; and divesting from those companies that refuse to change their practice of gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the Occupation”;16
WHEREAS, despite years of corporate engagement and the submission of shareholder resolutions from United Church Funds17 and other religious and secular groups, few companies have withdrawn any of their operations that support the Occupation;
WHEREAS, many agencies, institutions, universities, and Christian denominations around the world are severing financial ties to companies or institutions that help sustain the Israeli occupation and now, notably, have been joined by various Jewish groups in the U.S., such as Jewish Voice for Peace18 and American Jews for a Just Peace-Boston,19 as well as Israeli groups, such as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions20 and Coalition of Women for Peace,21 that support using boycott and divestment strategies; and
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ’s efforts to end the Occupation through economic leverage and advocacy for the protection of human rights of all Palestinians and Israelis are not aimed at isolating Israel or any other party but reflect the belief that engagement and communication among all affected by the current tragic situation in the Middle East are in the deepest interests of both Palestinians and Israelis;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Thirtieth General Synod of the United Church of Christ:
CALLS upon United Church of Christ churches and church members to study thoughtfully the Kairos Palestine document, as well as other perspectives on the occupied Palestinian territories, to reflect upon the theological truths within the Kairos Palestine document, and to take heed of its call for non-violent measures pressuring Israel to end the occupation in solidarity with the Palestinian people suffering under occupation;22
CALLS upon the United Church of Christ Board, the Pension Boards - United Church of Christ, Inc., United Church Funds, conferences, local churches, members, and other related United Church of Christ entities to divest any direct or substantive indirect holdings in companies profiting from or complicit in human rights violations arising from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel, including, but not limited to, Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard Company, G4S, and Veolia Environmental and its subsidiaries until such time as these companies no longer profit from or are complicit in said human rights violations;
URGES the United Church of Christ Board, soliciting input from stakeholders in this issue, to develop and publish standards by which faith-driven investment, divestment, and re-investment decisions will be made in the future.
CALLS upon all entities of the United Church of Christ to boycott goods identified as produced in or using the facilities of illegal settlements located in the occupied Palestinian territories, including, but not limited to, Ahava skin care products,23 SodaStream products,24 and Hadiklaim dates;25 and upon church members to join boycotts of such goods in their local communities; and for such boycotts to end when these companies cease operations in the illegal settlements;
CALLS upon the United Church of Christ Officers and church members to persist in the request to Congress, previously made by a number of religious leaders, to ensure that the U.S. aid to Israel violates neither the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits assistance to any country that engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations, nor the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense”;26
COMMENDS United Church of Christ leadership for continuing to dialogue with major Jewish organizations and call for the United Church of Christ-wide participation in a rigorous dialogue among the three Abrahamic faiths at all levels - in particular between local congregations –that will be resourced with materials from the Wider Church Global Ministries Middle East and Europe office in order to identify ways in which groups of congregations of different faiths can work in concert to promote sacred reconciliation among all people who are affected by the conflict in the Middle East and to influence public policies in ways that will promote peace and social justice for Palestinians and Israelis and end violence in all its forms;
CALLS upon the United Church of Christ Board to monitor the implementation of this resolution by all United Church of Christ national entities and to urge that those who manage the United Church of Christ Board’s own invested funds and who provide United Church of Christ Board employee health and pension benefits be in compliance with this resolution; and
ASKS the General Minister and President to provide an annual report to the whole church on the implementation of this resolution, including a summary of interfaith dialogue at various levels, along with examples of interfaith, congregation-to-congregation peace efforts.
The funding for the implementation of the Resolution will be made in accordance with the overall mandates of the affected agencies and the funds available.
The Officers of the Church, in consultation with appropriate ministries or other entities within the United Church of Christ, will determine the implementing body.