The United Church of Canada (UCC) voted in favor of divestment from Israel Tuesday during its 42nd General Council meeting “to address the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by the State of Israel.”
The resolution, according to a statement on the Council’s website, calls for the development of programs “of education and advocacy in cooperation with our partners, related to divestment from and economic sanctions against all corporations and institutions complicit in and benefiting from the illegal occupations.”
UCC also urged its members to refrain from “tourism [in Israel] which bolsters the oppression of Palestinians.”
The UCC commission which passed the divestment resolution encouraged “all courts, bodies and members of The United Church of Canada to apply such divestment strategies and sanctions, until such time as the occupation of the Palestinian territories ends.”
With more than two million members, the UCC is Canada’s largest Protestant church. Tuesday’s resolution against Israel follows a 2012 UCC boycott of all goods made in Judea and Samaria.
Not all UCC members support the Council’s decision to divest from Israel. Rev. Andrew Love, a UCC pastor in Arnprior, Ontario, said in a statement that the proposal reflects “a growing cancer of a anti-Semitism taking hold in the body of the UCC.”
In further conversation with news outlet CJN, Love explained that “there is an activist community within the UCC that will not be satisfied until the very existence of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people ends.” He warned that the recent divestment was just one step toward the UCC’s final goal of “replacing Israel with a different state.”
“I believe we’re seeing…a lot of old prejudices being re-formulated against Israel…That old denial of historical and religious aspirations of the Jewish people in relation to Israel,” he said.
The UCC’s resolution follows a string of anti-Israel support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by Christian churches.
In June, the United Church of Christ voted to divest from companies that conduct business in Judea and Samaria. Delegates of the church ordered its financial officers, who control an investment fund of some $4 billion, to sell off all stocks in companies which “have been found to profit from the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the State of Israel.”
United Church of Christ delegates also voted on whether to label Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria as “apartheid” but failed to garner the two-thirds majority vote in order to approve the measure.
In June 2014, Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) voted in favor of withdrawing investments worth $21 million from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola, which conduct business in Judea and Samaria.
“We as a church cannot profit from the destruction of homes and lives,” Reverend Gradye Parsons said in a statement about the decision. “We continue to invest in many businesses involved in peaceful pursuits in Israel.”
In December 2014, PCUSA took their anti-Israel sentiment one step further when church officials considered banning the word “Israel” from its prayers so as not to confuse its followers between “ancient Israel/modern Israel.”