This post was originally featured at http://misodromgold.blogspot.com/
Complacency in Investment. Complacency in Silence. Complacency in Injustice.
“Not to take sides is to effectively weigh in on the side of the stronger.”
-William Sloane Coffin
Today, we, as a representative body of the global United Methodist Church at the General Conference, voted to not support divestment. United Methodists across the connection have passionately devoted time and energy these past four years to work towards realizing and calling for divestment this General Conference.
As the United Methodist Kairos Response states:
“Divestment is a form of nonviolent moral action to change unjust practices,” and in doing so, it can:
1. …provide hope to Palestinians who see their freedom denied every day;
2. …raise the level of awareness about how profitable Israel’s occupation has become for companies around the world;
3. …ensure that we as investors are not profiting from this;
4. …put companies on notice that their support for Israel’s occupation may turn away investors;
5. …stimulate public discussion about the realities of occupation, which have largely been hidden from Americans, and can lay the groundwork for changing US policy;
6. ….send a message to Israeli leaders that we view the occupation as immoral and we will actively oppose it; [and]
7. …show the world that we believe in the equality of all God’s children, and that our faith requires our commitment to justice and peace.”
Well, engaging in divestment could have had these impacts….
In discussing the investments and divestment of the United Methodist Church’s finances and stock-holdings, the UM Kairos Response movement of the church had petitioned to, hoped for, and envisioned a divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola, the three major companies invested in the Israeli occupation through the implication of the use of their products in home demolitions, the construction of settlements, biometric monitoring of checkpoints, and surveillance systems for settlements, military bases, and the wall. The major issues of divestment, for those represented here and opposed to such action, included the financial implications of such action for the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (thinking, first, of ourselves), Israel, and (lastly) Palestinian Christians. Discussion of this and another petition regarding Israeli settlements was charged with negative, hateful language, particularly directed at ‘the Muslims’ and ‘all the Arabs,’ who ‘pose a threat to the security in our backyard.’
Having been in Israel and Palestine in 2010, I have witnessed that the movement to divest and the seeking of peace in the Holy Land moves beyond these concerns.
Having broken bread with, lived with, and worked with Muslims in Palestine, Turkey, and Germany, I am outraged and personally offended by such hateful speech against Muslims on the plenary floor of a Christian organization, to which I am a member. Three years ago, I joined the United Methodist Church, impassioned through and empowered by the denomination’s commitment to justice, but have never questioned my membership in this institution more than I have in the last ten days.
This afternoon, the United Methodist Church has chosen to do nothing. To remain silent. To remain complacent.
Although Wesley stood on the principles of social holiness and the belief that there is no religion but social religion;
Although the United Methodist Church has a tradition of standing with marginalized peoples; and
Although the Palestinian Christians have asked us to stand in solidarity with them and have submitted a concrete call for us to act to bring peace and justice,
We, as a church, remain silent.
We turned from the UM Kairos Response’s call that ,“The Church should lead with prophetic action by publicly and promptly aligning its investments with longstanding church policies opposing the Israeli occupation.”
We failed to give voice to the voiceless. We failed to align our actions with our words. We quiver in fear, failing to stand brave together as a church.
In doing so, we fail to work towards peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians suffering under occupation.
We fail to be the change that Christ calls us to be in this world.
Our Palestinian sisters and brothers in Christ empowered us in the Bethlehem Call, Here We Stand – Stand with us, “The pain will pass soon if we act now.”2
How long will we now need for this pain to pass? When will our Christian actions align with our doctrine and Jesus’ example of justice? When will peace and justice prevail?
“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.“
When will we, as a denomination, speak out against and act in the face of injustice?
Michelle Dromgold is a Mission Intern of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. She is currently serving at the Kindertreff Delbrücke at the Salem Gemeinde in Berlin, Germany. She is a member of Dumbarton United Methodist Church in the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference and was active in the campus ministry at American University.