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June 5, 2012 Off

US Campaign Holds Strategy Call to Discuss Anti-Israel Initiatives

The US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion held a con­fer­ence call on May 31, 2012, to dis­cuss strate­gies and tac­tics that could be used to end US mil­i­tary aid to Israel.

The call fea­tured pre­sen­ta­tions by sev­eral grass­roots anti-Israel activists who dis­cussed their efforts to pass local divest­ment res­o­lu­tions in their regions, as well as two speak­ers who spoke about the effi­cacy of anti-Israel bus and bill­board ads call­ing for an end to aid for Israel. The call was led and mod­er­ated by Josh Rueb­ner, the National Advo­cacy Direc­tor for the US Campaign.
A run­down of the call:
  • Mark David­son, a pas­tor at the Pres­by­ter­ian Church of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Chapel Hill, North Car­olina, spoke about his efforts locally to unveil a bus ad cam­paign focus­ing on end­ing aid to Israel. He claimed that the ad cam­paign is almost ready and is being spon­sored by sev­eral groups such as the Coali­tion of Peace and Jus­tice and the Mus­lim Affairs Polit­i­cal Action Coun­cil in Raleigh.
  • Joyce Guinn, an activist from a local Mil­wau­kee group called Friends of Pales­tine, talked about her group’s recent efforts to divest from Israel on a city level. Accord­ing to Guinn, Friends of Pales­tine is cur­rently seek­ing to get a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion passed through the Mil­wau­kee County Com­mon Council.
  • Cindy Cor­rie, the mother of Rachel Cor­rie, an Inter­na­tional Sol­i­dar­ity Move­ment activist who was killed while protest­ing Israeli mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Gaza, spoke about local efforts in Wash­ing­ton State to divest from Israel. Cor­rie claimed that a res­o­lu­tion has been passed in Okanogan County, but it was impos­si­ble to ver­ify that information.
  • Elaine Kinch, an activist with the Racine Coali­tion for Peace and Jus­tice in Wis­con­sin, spoke about her divest­ment efforts, includ­ing protest­ing out­side a GE Share­hold­ers Con­fer­ence in late April. Kinch dis­trib­uted anti-Israel pam­phlets from If Amer­i­cans Knewand col­lected sig­na­tures at the con­fer­ence call­ing for an end to aid to Israel.
  • Natalia Cuadra, a coor­di­na­tor for the United Methodist Kairos Response, talked about UMKR’s recent efforts to pres­sure the Methodist Church to divest from Israel at the United Methodist Church Con­fer­ence in April. The divest­ment res­o­lu­tion failed to pass. 
While none of these efforts seem to have much legs, it is notable that local activists have the oppor­tu­nity to brain­storm and col­lab­o­rate with one another in the hopes of mak­ing their move­ment that much more successful.

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April 26, 2012 3

Divestment Effort at the Methodist General Conference in Tampa

Should the United Methodist Church divest from its invest­ments in “com­pa­nies that sus­tain the Israeli occu­pa­tion?”

The answer to that ques­tion will be decided in Tampa, Florida, at this year’s Gen­eral Con­fer­ence of the United Methodist Church (UMC). The con­fer­ence began on Tues­day and is sched­uled to take place through May 5, 2012.

The UMC includes on its agenda a list of “major issues” that will be addressed at the con­fer­ence, includ­ing the church’s stance and efforts regard­ing abor­tion, gay rights, bul­ly­ing and immi­gra­tion. Also included in the agenda is a res­o­lu­tion on divest­ment from three Amer­i­can com­pa­nies – Cater­pil­lar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard – until they “end their involve­ment in the Israeli occu­pa­tion of the Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries.” The res­o­lu­tion fur­ther calls on “the United Methodist Church boards and agen­cies, annual con­fer­ences, local churches and indi­vid­u­als to prayer­fully con­sider cor­po­rate involve­ment in Israel’s occu­pa­tion when mak­ing invest­ment decisions.”

The res­o­lu­tion is being pre­sented to the Gen­eral Con­fer­ence by the United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR), an anti-Israel con­tin­gent that was formed in 2010 fol­low­ing the release of the “Kairos Pales­tine Doc­u­ment.” That doc­u­ment, which calls for a global BDS cam­paign, denies Jew­ish con­nec­tion to the Holy Land and jus­ti­fies terrorism.

If the res­o­lu­tion is passed, UMC gen­eral boards will be required to present reports on their respec­tive progress at the church’s 2016 conference.

UMKR has a doc­u­ment on its web­site list­ing indi­vid­u­als and groups that sup­port the res­o­lu­tion and it takes care to specif­i­cally high­light the Jew­ish anti-Zionists who sup­port BDS. This is likely an attempt to obvi­ate alle­ga­tions of anti-Semitism. The res­o­lu­tion has received sup­port from Jew­ish Voice for Peace, a vari­ety of Israeli anti-occupation activists and two anti-Zionist Holo­caust sur­vivors, Hedy Epstein and Hajo Meyer. In his state­ment, Meyer claims that, as a sur­vivor of Auschwitz, he “[refuses] to belong to a group which is a per­pe­trator, and there­fore I do not agree to allow the state of Israel to com­mit its crimes in the name of Judaism.”

In addi­tion to the divest­ment res­o­lu­tion, par­tic­i­pants at the con­fer­ence may be asked to vote on other vir­u­lently anti-Israel res­o­lu­tions, includ­ing one regard­ing endors­ing the Kairos Pales­tine Document.

Efforts by Methodist anti-Israel activists to divest from Israel began in 2008. Then, the UMC voted to con­tinue to allow its agency staff to make com­par­isons of Israel to the apartheid regime that existed in South Africa and par­tic­i­pate in the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion. The Gen­eral Coun­cil did not, how­ever, vote in favor of divest­ing from Israeli companies.

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January 5, 2012 Off

BDS Movement Gears Up for University of Pennsylvania Conference

The Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia is set to play host to a major strat­egy con­fer­ence next month for the Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment against Israel. A group called PennBDS announced that the con­fer­ence will take place on cam­pus over the first week­end in Feb­ru­ary and has invited many of the sig­nif­i­cant play­ers in the domes­tic anti-Israel move­ment, includ­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion and Jew­ish Voice for Peace

Sched­uled speak­ers advo­cate a vari­ety of strate­gies used to dele­git­imize Israel, includ­ing “law­fare” ini­tia­tives, boy­cott cam­paigns against Israeli prod­ucts, cam­pus divest­ment res­o­lu­tions and claims of “pink-washing,” which argue that Israel’s pro­gres­sive atti­tudes on LGBT issues are an effort to white­wash its human rights poli­cies regard­ing Palestinians.

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