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Huge News! Church Divestment Starts Big in 2016!

by Anna Baltzer, National Organizer
January 12th, 2016

Major news! The United Methodist Church (UMC) has become the first mainline church to divest from Israeli banks that sustain Israel’s illegal occupation policies on Palestinian land. 

United Methodists have been working for divestment from occupation for more than a decade.

The UMC’s $20-billion-dollar Pension and Health Benefits Fund is among the largest of its kind and has declared the five largest Israeli banks off limits for investment, divesting those it held in its portfolios according to a celebratory press release  by member group United Methodist Kairos Response. These banks -- Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank, and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank -- provide key financial infrastructure to sustain Israel’s illegal settlement industry. 

Member group Jewish Voice for Peace just launched a petition to thank the UMC. Please CLICK HERE to sign the thank-you letter!

2014 and 2015 ushered in watershed decisions by the Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ general assemblies to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation. The UMC also divested from G4S, and that’s not to mention almost 50 other key faith-based decisions by Quakers, the Mennonite Central Committee, and others in recent years, all listed here. These breakthroughs illustrate a tremendous shift in mainstream religious institutions and more broadly nationwide.

But 2016 could be the biggest year yet for church divestment, including one denomination that may come as a surprise and needs your support! The following denominations are poised to pass further resolutions this year:

  • The United Methodist Church will consider divestment at their General Convention in May, led by member group United Methodist Kairos Response.

  • The Presbyterian Church (USA) will consider new resolutions on the subject in June, after passing divestment two years ago, led by member group Israel Palestine Mission Network. Follow their efforts via emails, Facebook, and Twitter by visiting IPMN’s website, where you can also find their publication “Zionism Unsettled.”

  • SURPRISE! The Unitarian Universalists will be considering divestment from the occupation for the first time this year, and they need your help! This is an exciting campaign led by member group Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME).

Are you a Unitarian Universalist (UU)? Do you have friends who are UUs? 

Please fill out this form if you are a member of a UU or interested in signing up to support this campaign!

UU members can help UUJME gather the needed signatures to get the divestment resolution on the General Assembly agenda! UUs can collect signatures using this form, which should be completed, certified, returned to UUJME by January 25 -- less than two weeks away! See further instructions here. (If you obtain signatures after Jan 25, please send them with a copy of the resolution to the UUA per instructions on the petition AND send a copy to UUJME.)

UUs can also help by educating their congregations, serving as a delegate, and attending GA next June! Whether you are from a UU or not, all are encouraged to follow this exciting campaign on UUJME’s website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts!

Here’s to 2016 being the most exciting year for church divestment yet! We are sure off to a great start.

P.S. Please share this exciting news on Facebook and Twitter too!