Michaela Whitton July 1, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) Activists and campaigners are celebrating another glimmer in the growing success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement after the United Church of Christ voted for divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority of 504 in favor, 124 against, and 38 abstentions in a move the church hopes will encourage the Israeli government to end the occupation.
Yesterday’s decision is the culmination of a long process beginning in 2005, which aimed to end the church’s complicity in the Israeli government’s abuses of Palestinian human rights. The motion followed in the footsteps of other mainline U.S. churches—namely, the Presbyterians and the United Methodists—who passed similar resolutions last year (the UCC went further, calling for stock to be sold off in any company profiting from the occupation). Later this week, mainline Protestant and Episcopal denominations will also consider adopting a resolution to divest from companies that profit from the occupation.
UCC, a liberal Protestant group with over a million members, also voted on whether or not to label Israeli policies in the territories as “apartheid.” The measure required a two-thirds majority to pass but failed in a vote that was almost split, with 312 delegates in favor, 295 opposed and 31 abstentions.
A minister in Jerusalem told Anti-Media,
“The UCC has voted to extend its ‘economic leverage’ now to include divestment from companies that profit from the occupation and to boycott products from the settlements. I am very proud that our history of radical discipleship now includes taking a stand against injustice in Palestine. I’m disappointed the apartheid resolution did not pass but the vote was close. This means more and more people see how the government’s policies fit the definition of apartheid.”
On Monday, President Obama signed into law the “fast track” authorization for the controversial and murky Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP.) The sinister trade measures also contain landmark legislation to counter the BDS movement in Europe, making opposing the movement a top priority for U.S. negotiators, who will be working on free trade agreements with the European Union.
According to a press release by Peter Roskam on the U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act, ‘’This bill leverages ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel. It also establishes a clear U.S. policy in opposition to state-led BDS, which is detrimental to global trade, regional peace and stability.’’
Perhaps sensing the potential heat (and in another sign of BDS’ momentum), the State Department quickly made a statement attempting to clarify the position of the U.S. administration on the illegality of Israeli settlements.
Condemnation of settlements, however, is not enough to end Israel’s aggression. Despite the United States’ collusion with human rights violations and the persistent whining of international players, BDS continues to snowball throughout Europe and on U.S. college campuses. Regardless of roars of condemnation calling the movement anti-Semitic, emerging patterns point to the likelihood of more boycotts and major divestments until Israel abides by its legal obligations and begins to behave like the “democracy”it claims to be.
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The Trojan horse amendment to the bill calls on U.S. trade negotiators to pressure European partners not to boycott Israeli businesses operating in the occupied Palestinian territories.
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