UCC Votes to Divest from and Boycott Companies Profiting from Israeli Occupation
The United Church of Christ (UCC) has become the latest Christian denomination to heed the Palestinian call to divest from the Israeli occupation. In a vote taking place at their headquarters in Cleveland earlier this week, the General Synod, the Church’s highest legislative body, resolved to divest from and boycott companies that profit from the occupation, including Veolia, Caterpillar, Motorola, and HP.
The vote is a culmination of an extensive campaign led by the United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network (UCC PIN) to end the Church’s complicity in the occupation. Before being presented at the General Synod, the resolution was endorsed by eight UCC conferences. The BDS measure received 508 votes in favor and 124 against, with 38 abstentions, significantly surpassing the required 2/3 majority.
In a press release, the UCC PIN expressed their gratitude to Synod delegates and allies, and highlighted the significance of the resolution.
In the words of Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Christian Palestinian and Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, “For Palestinians living under occupation or facing systematic discrimination as citizens of Israel, enduring the destruction of their homes and businesses, the theft of their land for settlements, and living under blockade and siege in Gaza, this action sends a strong signal that they are not alone, and that there are churches who still dare to speak truth to power and stand with the oppressed,” the statement said.
Besides boycott and divestment, the resolution also calls upon UCC members to persist in pressuring Congress to uphold the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, which “prohibits assistance to any country that engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations,” as well as the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. Additionally, it asks members to become familiar with the Kairos Palestine document, a call made by Palestinian Christians to the world’s Churches to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
In addition to divesting from Israeli occupation, the UCC further demonstrated its commitment to social justice by deliberating and voting on resolutions that include topics such as commemorating 100 years since the Armenian Genocide, dismantling the prison industrial complex in the US, fossil fuel divestment, and ending the New Jim Crow.
Through the passing of this resolution, the UCC has joined a growing list of US-based churches, including the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Methodist Church, which have voted to divest from the Israeli occupation. Two other major U.S. Churches, The Episcopal Church and the Mennonite Church USA, are scheduled to consider divestment resolutions this week.