The International Fellowship of Jews and Christians (IFCJ) has harshly condemned the United Methodist Church’s recent decision to divest from five Israeli banks, warning that churches which do not support Israel will ultimately suffer from decreased membership and affiliation.
IFCJ founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said in a statement responding to the decision, “God is clearly honoring the churches that stand with Israel and the Jewish people by bringing about huge growth with them, and at the same time Methodist churches are sitting empty and their affiliation is way down.”
He said that the United Method Church (UMC) pension board’s blacklisting of five Israeli banks on the grounds that they enable abuse of human rights would only garner more conflict and strife in the region.
“Boycotting divides people and stirs deeper hatred for Israel and the Jewish people, rather than encouraging peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he stated.
He emphasized the Fellowship’s appreciation for the millions of Christians who have “faithfully stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel and the Jewish people, despite cynical and hate-filled attempts to demonize Israel” in recent years.
NGO Monitor also made a statement blasting the decision and pointing a finger at the non-governmental organizations which attempt to delegitimize Israel under the guise of human rights. This group of “radical and anti-peace NGOs” runs campaigns calling for boycotts and divestments from Israel, said the statement.
The organization called the United Methodist Church’s decision immoral and damaging to the possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. “Isolating Israel and damaging the prospect of peace are entirely inconsistent with universal values and morality,” said Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor.
He argued that the decision was based in a desire to hurt Israel rather than help Palestinians. “By adopting this resolution, the UMC handed a victory to anti-Israel extremists who are more interested in causing harm to the Jewish state than to improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis,” he charged.
These extremists are represented by a group of NGOs which work against Israel, NGO Monitor said. At the forefront of this campaign is an NGO called “Who Profits”, which is funded by a number of European donors, including several church groups and the government of Spain.
Another pro-BDS and anti-peace NGO which promotes “economic warfare” against Israel is Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which praised the United Methodist Church decision and boasts a partnership with the United Methodist Kairos Response, a major BDS proponent within the Methodist church, said the NGO Monitor statement.
These organizations are part of a larger network of about 1,500 NGOs which, at a 2001 UN conference, formed a strategy aimed at delegitimizing Israel as an “apartheid regime” by calling for the imposition of sanctions and embargoes and the “full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel.
Steinberg called the strategy of using churches to advance the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) agenda “cynical”, adding that it “takes advantage of the perception of the church as a source of good and morality.”
“Tuesday’s decision by the UMC reflects the destructive power of the NGO network that exploits human rights for hate, and undermining the chances for peace and reconciliation,” he said.