Three U.S. churches are voting on resolutions to divest from firms with connections to Israel and support a boycott of the Jewish State.
The votes on the pro-Palestinian Authority resolutions are taking place today (Tuesday, June 30) at the general convention of the Episcopal Church and the Cleveland synod of the United Church of Christ, both to be held in Salt Lake City.
On Wednesday, a similar resolution is to be considered at the meeting of the Mennonites in Kansas City, Missouri.
The three churches represent millions of members in the United States, but the votes taken this week may also affect decisions of churches elsewhere around the world as well.
A year ago, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA voted 310-303 to divest from US firms (Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard) which they complained profit from Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank. The vote affected some two million members.
An amendment to reinvest the funds in Israeli companies seeking “peaceful solutions” was also rejected. The previous day, the Church also rejected a proposal to send Church leaders to Israel to examine conditions for themselves and present their complaints in person to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Earlier in 2014, the United Methodist Church divested from G4S, a British-Danish firm providing security services to Israeli prisons in which Palestinian Authority terrorists are held.
The anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, however is actually a thinly-disguised new form of anti-Semitism that has been making its way around the United States for more than a decade. On U.S. college campuses, it has led to violence against Jewish students as well.
The movement has been particularly effective in the United Kingdom.
A statement on the BDS website describes its campaign against the iconic British Marks & Spencer chain.
“Historically, Marks & Spencer has made statements in support of Zionism,” said a statement on the site. “Lord Sieff, chairman and founder of M&S who died in 2001, made several statements in support of Israel’s military policies. In 1941, Sieff said that “large sections of the Arab population of Palestine should be transplanted to Iraq and other Middle-Eastern Arab States.” (Jewish Chronicle, 21/09/1941) Sieff, in a book entitled On Management: The Marks and Spencer Way, wrote that one of the fundamental objectives of M&S was to ‘aid the economic development of Israel.’”
The statement on the site goes on to cite the history of the chain’s support for Israel – and the effectiveness of the BDS campaign in ceasing that support.
“In 2008, the store wrote: ‘We do not buy products from the West Bank, Golan Heights or Gaza as we cannot safely visit the suppliers in these areas because of the current security situation.” It seems probable that the move to cease selling settlement products was, in fact, due to effective campaigning, protests and fear of adverse press coverage.'”
As a matter of fact, on a recent visit to London, JewishPress.com was told explicitly by a store clerk at Marks & Spencer that the chain carries “no kosher items whatsoever,” be they Israeli or locally produced and supervised.
It appears that the BDS movement against Israel has been shamefully successful in extending its anti-Semitism even in a chain once was owned by a pro-Israel Jewish family.
Moreover, no local kosher supervision was found on products in any major supermarket chains, or even smaller stores (save for one) in most London neighborhoods other than the specifically Jewish areas of Stamford Hill or Golders Green.
The British government has decided it must legally allow a neo-Nazi group to hold an anti-Semitic march in Golders Green this upcoming Sabbath, July 4. The group, led by self-described fascist Joshua Bonehill, is vowing to burn an Israeli flag and a Jewish holy book at its rally in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood that day.Hana Levi Julian