Change Is in the Air as Methodists Vote
Change is in the air. Iím writing you from Tampa Bay, Florida, where the United Methodist Church General Conference is voting on a resolution to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard due to the companiesí involvement in the Israeli occupation. United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR), the US Campaign member group leading the effort, is joined by the US Campaign and people of conscience of all faiths and backgrounds united in support for our Methodist allies in aligning their words Ė more than forty years of resolutions condemning the occupation Ė with action, in response to a call to do so from thousands of Palestinian Christians in the 2009 Kairos Palestine Document.
Conversations are happening not only in Tampa, but around the country and beyond. Last Sunday, 60 Minutes ran a segment entitled "Christians in the Holy Land," with Bob Simon, shedding light on the struggles of Palestinian Christians living under Israel's brutal military occupation and apartheid policies. In the segment, Palestinian Christians affirm their unity with Palestinian Muslims in struggling against oppression. In his interview with Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, Simon upbraids the ambassador for objecting to the story before it was even completed and exposes how the Israeli government tried to censor the story.
The piece introduced millions of Americans to the brutalities and injustices inflicted by Israel on the Palestinian people, and the lengths to which Israel and its apologists will go to try to prevent these stories from coming to light. But the light is shining through.
This morning, the Tampa Bay Times published this article by members of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, a US Campaign member group, in support of divestment. Similar blogs and videos are being posted on the Methodist vote left and right. Itís a lot to keep up with, but you can follow the action on Twitter at #ChurchDivest and www.rabbisletter.org, which is being updated regularly.
Here in Tampa, it is clear that the discourse is changing. I have been inspired and humbled by conversations with United Methodists from around the world who are grounded in the churchís proud tradition of heeding the calls of the oppressed to take nonviolent, moral action. Every bit as inspiring has been the outpouring of support from people like you. If you havenít done so yet, please sign the UMKR petition in favor of the resolution.
Their cries for justice -- for all Palestinians, regardless of religion -- are being heard here in Tampa and in living rooms across the country. Yes, change is in the air.
With excitement and anticipation,