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'Hotly contested' divestment proposal before Methodists

posted Apr 23, 2012, 7:06 AM by Melissa Tokajer   [ updated Apr 23, 2012, 7:31 AM ]


Chad Groening 4/23/2012 3:35:00 AM

A coalition of Messianic Jewish leaders is greatly alarmed that the 11-million member United Methodist Church appears close to adopting a policy of selective divestment from companies that do business with Israel.


Four years ago, the general conference of the United Methodist Church rejected a divestment motion. But the issue is again up for a vote, as anti-Israel elements of the denomination object to "illegal settlements, segregated roads, checkpoints, a separation wall, home demolitions and other realities of occupation."

Joel Chernoff is CEO of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), one of several groups speaking out against the divestment proposal.

"They are really treating Israel in an unfair way, unjust way, and, in a sense, in an anti-Semitic way, because there's no rational reason for it," he contends. "So, it's just simply the right time for us to step up as a prophetic voice."

Mark Tooley (IRD)Mark Tooley is a longtime Methodist and president of The Institute on Religion & Democracy. He expects a strong debate on the issue.

"The pro-divestment crowd has come back with a more targetedness [sic] this time, and so they're pushing very hard. So, that will be a hotly contested issue," he predicts. "But divestment was rejected last time by a fairly significant margin, so I would be hopeful it will be rejected again this time."

Tooley says the proposal specifically focuses on three companies: Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola. The UMC's General Conference begins Tuesday (April 24) in Tampa.