Washington, May 3 - The Methodist Church twice voted against divesting from companies that supply Israel at their national conference on Wednesday.
Delegates to the convention in Tampa, Fla., shot down two separate motions by a 2-1 ratio which would have divested pension funds from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Those corporations, critics say, supply Israeli communities in the West Bank. The conference did pass a strongly-worded resolution urging nations to boycott Israeli goods from the West Bank.
The Methodist Church is the largest mainstream Protestant denomination in the U.S. with around 7.5 million members, and the vote on Wednesday came after intense lobbying and debate by both critics and supporters including American Jews, Israelis and Palestinian Christian. A group of 1,200 rabbis opposed to the divestment bid sent a letter to the delegates.
“A one-sided approach damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades,” the letter read. “It promotes a lopsided assessment of the causes of and solutions to the conflict, disregarding the complex history and geopolitics. Furthermore, it shamefully paints Israel as a pariah nation, solely responsible for frustrating peace.”
Supporters of the divestment efforts included Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, who published an Op-Ed in theTampa Bay Times on Wednesday.
The Presbyterian Church USA - which has been critical of Israeli policy in the past - will vote on its own divestment measure at their national conference in June.