Critical comments from several mainline Protestant churches regarding current policies in Israel and calls to divest from companies involved in some specific types of business with Israel are creating tensions between those religious groups and Jewish organizations, Nathan Guttman writes in the Jewish daily Forward (Jan. 30).
While relations with the Presbyterian Church are also strained, it is especially the United Methodist Church (UMC) that has recently come under fire. A recent extensive report produced by the Women’s Division, General Board of Global Ministries entitled Israel–Palestine: A Mission Study for 2007–2008 has met with harsh criticism. The B’nai B’rith International claims that the report follows “a now familiar … pattern of the UMC in maligning Israel” (Jewish Tribune, Feb. 28).
The re-emergence of a divestment campaign has added to those tensions. A resolution in the report recommends the UMC to call for divesting from a manufacturer supplying Israel with bulldozers used in building the separation barrier and demolishing Palestinian homes. The issue will probably be discussed at the UMC April conference. Advocates of the resolution insist that it should not be represented as anti-Israel, but as a refusal to benefit from human rights violations: the report does not issue a general call to divest from Israel or companies just doing business with Israel, reports Robin Russell. (United Methodist Reporter, Feb. 1).
(The Forward, http://www.forward.com; Jewish Tribune, http://www.jewishtribu ne.ca; United Methodist Reporter, http://www.umportal.org)