New Episcopal Church Group Calls for Divestment from Israeli Occupation

Desmond Tutu speaking at the German Evangelical Church in 2007. (Elke Wetzig/Wikimedia Commons)

The following is a press release from the Episcopal Committee for Justice in Israel and Palestine, followed by its statement, titled “The Episcopal Church’s Response to the New Political Landscape in Israel/Palestine A Paper and Resolution to the 78th General Convention.”

A Call to the Episcopal Church to Recognize the New Political Landscape in Israel & Palestine: New Church Group Calls For Divestment From Israeli Occupation

As the Episcopal Church approaches its 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City this June, a new group, the Episcopal Committee for Justice in Israel and Palestine, has been created to advocate for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land. (See below for names of group members.)

To coincide with the announcement of its formation, the Committee has issued a statement and resolution, featuring a foreword by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, calling on the church to recognize the new political realities in Israel/Palestine and to adjust its policies accordingly to ensure that we are not profiting from human rights abuses and the suffering of our fellow human beings. Specifically, the Committee is calling on the church to investigate whether we are complicit in Israeli human rights abuses through investments in companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands, and to advance the process to divest from such companies if we are found to be doing so.

“As a church we have consistently opposed the occupation,’ said Reverend Canon Gary Commins, DD, Deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Los Angeles, past chair of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, former Chair of the Episcopal Service Corps, and one of the authors of the statement. “At the present time, we may be complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people. The time has long passed when the Episcopal Church must recognize this. The time is now for us to truly respect the dignity of every human being, including Palestinians.”

Noting the changes that have occurred since the church’s Executive Council called for constructive engagement with such companies in 2005, including the collapse of the US-sponsored peace process last year due mainly to Israeli settlement construction, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent pledge never to allow the creation of a Palestinian state, the statement urges church members to take a moral stand, following in the footsteps of our brothers and sisters in other mainline churches such as the Presbyterians and United Methodists, who have adopted boycott and divestment initiatives targeting Israel’s nearly half-century-old occupation of Palestinian lands. The statement reads in part:

“At this juncture, in this new landscape, our purpose is to help end the occupation and to assure civil rights and equality for all the peoples of Israel and Palestine. The Church’s approach should be straightforward: boycott, divestment, and sanctions are tools of nonviolent peacemaking that put the weight of our corporate dollars behind our commitment to justice. The Church’s financial portfolio can again be used as an instrument of political change. And it can help to break the stalemate while illuminating the ways that America otherwise enables a brutal status quo.”

The statement also includes a resolution calling on the General Convention to institute a process for being socially responsible with its investments related to companies that undergird the infrastructure of Israel’s occupation. (See here for full text of statement and resolution.)

The Episcopal Committee for Justice in Israel and Palestine [members listed below]

– Read more: New Episcopal Church Group Calls for Divestment from Israeli Occupation – Mondoweiss

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