On Monday, Aug. 22, the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy released a statement calling for restoration of the freedom of faith groups to invest where they choose. Recently state legislatures and the United States congress have begun passing a series of legislative actions that discourage, penalize or criminalize the use of economic tools of nonviolent protest – specifically efforts to boycott, divest or sanction (BDS) – in response to the policies of Israel in regard to Palestinians.
General Minister and President Sharon Watkins said, “Disciples are unwavering in our support for a strong and secure Israel. We stand equally firmly with Palestinian brothers and sisters in their desire for freedom and self-determination. As people of faith, we seek nonviolent ways to support peace and dignity for all God’s children. We are discouraged that, in the United States context, normal economic freedoms could be legislated away from all of us. It seems a dangerous precedent and an infringement on our freedom of religious self-expression.”
Speaking together with our United Church of Christ (UCC) partners in Global Ministries, Disciples are also joined with Brethren, Methodists and others in this call for use of nonviolent economic means to express support of the Palestinian people.
“Efforts to employ economic measures to raise awareness and seek to end the Israeli occupation are expanding, not only among churches, but among civil society,” said Peter Makari, Global Ministries’ area executive for the Europe and the Middle East.
This statement is part of a decade-long effort to find ways to support the civil organizations in Palestine which use nonviolent responses to promote full citizenship for Palestinians in Israel as well as removal of the barrier wall and the return of refugees to their homelands.
Rev. Dr. Ronald Degges, president, Disciples Home Missions said, “Many in the United States are not aware that there are laws that prevent us from voting with our dollars against activities and policies that harm Palestinians. People of faith have long used nonviolent means to defeat the likes of apartheid and farm worker exploitation yet we are denied this nonviolent method to protest the human rights abuses of Israeli policies. These laws must be changed.”
Making the case for nonviolent means of protest, Rev. James Moos, co-executive of Global Ministries, said, “We choose to manage our finances as an extension of our faith and we do this, in part, by exercising our rights to determine our own investment policies and purchase practices. With ecumenical colleagues we raise our voices in defense of those rights, refusing to be intimidated by those who would criminalize or penalize those policies and practices.” Read the full statement