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1 Jul, 2015

United Church of Christ casts landslide vote to boycott companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine

Cleveland, JUNE 30, 2015 (UCC PIN Media release) – The United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network (UCC PIN) is pleased to announce that today the plenary of the 30th General Synod taking place in Cleveland passed Resolution #4, calling for boycotts and divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.

“As disciples of Jesus, we hear and seek to heed his call to be peacemakers, responding to violence with nonviolence and extending love to all,” said Rev. John Deckenback, Conference Minister of the Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC, which submitted the resolution to the synod. “It is in that spirit of love for both Israelis and Palestinians, and a desire to support Palestinians in their nonviolent struggle for freedom, that the United Church of Christ has passed this resolution.”

“In approving this resolution, the UCC has demonstrated its commitment to justice and equality,” said Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Christian Palestinian and Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, who traveled to Cleveland for the synod. “For Palestinians living under occupation or facing systematic discrimination as citizens of Israel, enduring the destruction of their homes and businesses, the theft of their land for settlements, and living under blockade and siege in Gaza, this action sends a strong signal that they are not alone, and that there are churches who still dare to speak truth to power and stand with the oppressed.”

The vote, which was 508 in favor, 124 against, with 38 abstentions, was the culmination of a process that began in 2005 to end the Church’s complicity in Israel’s nearly half-century-old occupation and other abuses of Palestinian human rights. It also comes as a response to the Christian Palestinian community’s call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, as embodied in the Kairos Palestine document, which seeks to achieve Palestinian freedom and rights using peaceful means, inspired by the US Civil Rights and South African anti-Apartheid movements.

In passing Resolution #4, the UCC is following in the footsteps of sister mainline churches like the Presbyterian Church (USA), which passed a similar resolution last year divesting from Israel’s occupation, and the United Methodists, who voted to boycott products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and whose pension board divested from G4S, a prison service company, due in part to its dealings with the Israeli military.

UCC PIN expresses its gratitude to synod delegates, who faithfully carried out their duties in a thoughtful and responsible manner, giving the proposal the careful deliberation it deserved. UCC PIN also expresses its gratitude to our many allies, including those in the Jewish and Palestinian communities, for their indispensable and cherished support.

UCC PIN hopes that this modest initiative will help encourage the Israeli government to end the occupation, and looks forward to working in covenantal relationship with the UCC Pension Boards and the UCC Funds to implement this resolution moving forward.



Take Action!

Dear Supporter,

This is huge.

By an incredible 80% margin, the United Church of Christ just voted to divest from Israel’s nearly 50 year occupation of Palestine, and to boycott products made in settlements. This vote by the UCC, which represents almost one million Christians, sends a clear message: faith communities are standing up, speaking out, and taking action for peace and justice.

If you’d told me last year that over 80% of UCC delegates would vote to divest from the occupation, I’d have said that was impossible. But that’s what happened — thanks to the courage of UCC leaders and the growing grassroots interfaith movement we’re building together.

We know the backlash will be fierce, and we can’t afford to be complacent. Our opponents will say that divestment harms interfaith relationships — but we know that’s not true. Supporting each other to align our values and actions is the very heart of what interfaith relationships should be. Let’s make our voices heard, and show that we support this historic decision of our brothers and sisters in the UCC.

Sign our thank you card to the UCC — thank them for standing for justice.

I’m in absolute awe of the people I’ve met here in Cleveland: the UCC Palestine-Israel Network who organized their own communities for divestment, and the brave UCC delegates who debated how to best turn their belief that the occupation is unjust into concrete action that can support those living under it. Their moral clarity, and their commitment to turn their faith into action are like nothing I’d ever seen before.

The UCC Palestine Israel Network said it best: the days of “praying for peace and paying for occupation” are over. The time for action is now — and taking action is exactly what the UCC did today.

Last year, we talked and prayed with our allies in the Presbyterian Church as they aligned their values with their investments by divesting from Israel. This week, we did the same, and now another major religious body has made it clear that they won’t profit from the persecution of Palestinians.

The UCC has taken a brave step forward for justice, and we need to have their back. They need to know that we’re standing with them — sign our thank you card!

Some people say that progress is impossible. Some people say that the Israel lobby is too powerful. Today, we stood with the United Church of Christ, and we proved those people are wrong.



Ilana Rossoff
Midwest Regional Organizer