Affirming 'Dignity of All People,' Mainstream Church Votes to Divest from Occupation-Profiting Companies

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Affirming 'Dignity of All People,' Mainstream Church Votes to Divest from Occupation-Profiting Companies

United Church of Christ's resolution indication of growing BDS movement, says analyst

An image of a dove appears in stained glass.  (Photo: Luz/flickr/cc)

The United Church of Christ, a one million-member, mainstream Protestant church in the U.S., has overwhelmingly passed a resolution to divest from companies it says profit from Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The church described the Tuesday vote, which took place at the General Synod in Cleveland, where it is based, as furthering its years-long efforts towards peace in the region.

The resolution also calls for a boycott of products made by Israeli settlement-based companies.

"The UCC has been engaged in global issues of peace and justice for a very long time, and on Israel/Palestine for decades," stated Peter Makari, executive for the Middle East and Europe for Global Ministries (a joint ministry of the UCC and the Christian Church Disciples of Christ), in a press statement (pdf).

"These resolutions reflect our urgent concern for the worsening effects of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian people and lives, including the disparity in rights and power. These votes reaffirm the UCC’s commitment to the dignity of all people," Makari's statement continues.

The UCC's decision garnered accolades from the grassroots organization Jewish Voice for Peace.

Lev Hirschhorn, Jewish Voice for Peace board member, and one of the members of the group who was present at the General Synod, stated: "I’m honored to be here as the UCC took a courageous step to put their words into action and divest from occupation. My conversations at the General Synod have shown me that we’re on the precipice of a new political moment.

"Progressives are speaking up, and it’s only a matter of time until Israel is held accountable for its human rights abuses and violations of international law," Hirschhorn continued.

The UCC vote passed overwhelmingly—508-124—a point that author and Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah sees as noteworthy:

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

What sets this vote apart is the huge margin of victory, an indication that BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – is gaining momentum despite aggressive efforts by Israel and its lobby groups to fight it."

A separate resolution that labeled Israeli actions against Palestinians as apartheid got 51 percent of the vote, failing to achieve the 2/3 majority necessary for passage.

The UCC vote follows a similar move by the Presbyterian Church last year, which Robert Naiman, Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy, described as a "turning point" in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The Episcopal Church and Mennonite Church USA area also weighing divestment resolutions this week.

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