Connecticut UCC Agrees to Non-Violent Protest of Violence in West Bank
The annual meeting of Connecticut conference of the United Church of Christ passed a resolution to divest itself from companies the conference says is profiting from the occupation of the Palestine Territories by the state of Israel.
About two-thirds of the 400 delegates at the annual Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ meeting last Friday voted in favor of the resolution. It calls for the 240 churches in the conference to divest consolidated trust fund holdings in companies they say is profiting from " the occupation of the Palestine Territories by the state of Israel." The resolution specifically mentions Caterpillar, Motorola solutions, and Hewlett Packard Development as companies from which to divest.
The Reverend Steven Jungkeit is the senior minister at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, whose board of deacons introduced the resolution. He said a trip to the West Bank earlier this year prompted the measure. "It was clear there was such a stranglehold on the people there," he said, "in their movements, in the surveillance, and there's such acute suffering there that it's a flashpoint, a boiling point."
Jungkeit said that as a Christian, it was important to give the Israeli government a stern, but non-violent response to what the resolution calls the "human rights abuses" of Palestinians in the West Bank. "I very much believe in non-violence as a moral force in the world," he said. "One of the things that has typically worked for religious people when confronting systemic justice is this series of boycotts or divestments."
"Statements that seem underneath to be moralistic, end up creating defensive responses," said Yehezkel Landau, Associate Professor of Interfaith Relations at Hartford Seminary. He said often these types of resolutions end up doing more harm than good. "It goes against any real healing process between American Christians and Jews, which is very much needed," he said, adding that rather than condemning one side or the other in this conflict, American Christians should be supporting peace building efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.
The resolution also calls for individual church members to boycott Israeli products made in the "occupied Palestinian territories," including Ahava skin care products and SodaStream. The resolution will be sent to the United Church of Christ Synod for a vote in July of next year.