Oct 17, 2021

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In a blow to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the United Methodist Church (UMC) voted down four resolutions calling for it to divest from pro-Israel companies, The Times of Israel reported. The resolutions, which targeted international companies that activists claim support the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian lands, were raised at the quadrennial United Methodist Church General Conference in Portland, Oregon this week.

According to delegate John Lomperis, who opposes BDS and spoke to Religion News Service Sunday, the resolutions “pretty much went down in flames”.

The resolutions would have seen the church divesting from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola due to their alleged cooperation with Israeli security services. Instead, the UMC Finance Committee accepted a reworded resolution calling for responsible investment of church funds.

A number of groups had lobbied during the conference for the BDS measures to be accepted, but were left disappointed. Susanne Hoder, co-chair of United Methodist Kairos Response which drafted the resolutions, told Religion News that the amended resolution represented a reasonable, if unsatisfying, compromise.

“Where we see opportunities to move forward together, we’re going to seize them,” she said.

She noted that as important as it is to invest responsibly, it is not a substitute for divestment.

This was not the first attempt to push the 12-million-member Protestant church towards BDS. Similar motions failed in both 2012 NS 2008. However, the church did pull five Israeli banks from its pension portfolio recently, claiming they ran counter to the church’s policies on investing in “high-risk countries” as well as its commitment to human rights.

Last week, Hillary Clinton, who is a Methodist, wrote a letter in response to the Israel Action Network denouncing BDS.