"Current Topics" pages offer primary source materials, commentary, and links on subjects of concern in Jewish and Christian relations.
Israeli/Palestinian Conflict and Divestment from Israel Considered by Various Protestant Churches
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), meeting on June 26-July 2, 2004 in Richmond, VA, voted to ?initiate a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." Partially inspired by similar initiatives undetaken in past decades against South Africa, the idea has become a subject of discussion in other "mainline" Protestant communities. As of the summer of 2006, the proposal for selective divestment has yielded in several churches to proposals for selective investment. This page compiles resources on relevant documents and issues concerning the divestment question and to a lesser degree the Israel-Palestinian conflict in general.



Presbyterian Church (USA)

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), meeting on June 26-July 2, 2004 in Richmond, VA, voted to ?initiate a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel,? and to reject a proposal to suspend national-level funding for any further ?messianic? church developments until this form of evangelization can be evaluated in light of the Presbyterian understanding of Christian-Jewish relations.

Two years later, on June 21, 2006 in Birmingham, AL, the 217th General Assembly voted to modify the earlier resolution, advocating negotiation with companies rather than boycotts and apologizing for the "hurt and misunderstanding" caused by its 2004 actions.

For details, visit these webpages: 

  • Website of "Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations" (Dec. 4, 2004).
    The website creators define themselves as "an informal group of Presbyterian ministers and laity, committed to a positive, constructive and respectful relationship with Jews." Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish & Christian Relations (PCJCR) is "calling on all Presbyterians to work toward the reversal of the decision of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.(PCUSA) to divest its funds from certain companies doing business with Israel" and "our denomination's funding of so-called 'messianic' congregations that we believe are an offense to both Christians and Jews."

Votes to modify the 2004 resolution, advocating negotiation with companies rather than boycotts and apologizing for the "hurt and misunderstanding" caused by its 2004 actions. The 500 delegates say church funds could be invested "in only peaceful pursuits," and order the church's investments committee to continue dialogue with multinational firms operating in Israel and Palestinian territories: "On Rescinding and Modifying Certain Actions of the 216th General Assembly (2004) Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

Overriding the negative recommendation of the steering committee, the Assembly also passed a resolution "On Declaring Suicide Bombing a Crime Against Humanity."



The Anglican Church and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Sept. 22, 2004 Anglican Peace and Justice Network

Statement on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: Give Sight to the Blind and Freedom to the Captives

Sept. 27, 2004 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Concerned over One-Sided Report on Israel, ADL Urges Dialog with Episcopal Church
Sept. 28, 2004 International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Oct. 1, 2004
Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, deputy for Ecumenical And Interfaith Relations, and the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director, Peace And Justice Ministries of the Episcopal Church. 
Statement on interfaith relations, peace ministries with Israel
Oct. 4, 2004 Archbishop of Canterbury Letter to the International Council of Christians and Jews
Oct. 11, 2004 American Jewish Committee Background Report on Israel Divestment Campaigns
Jan., 2005 Committee on Episcopal Jewish-Relations, Episcopal Diocese of New York Consultative Document on Israel
June 24, 2005

Anglican Consultative Committee
A resolution submitted by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network calling for all Provinces "to take appropriate action where it finds that its corporate investments support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis" was approved unanimously by the Anglican Consultative Committee.

Summary from the Anglican Communion News Service

Portion of the Resolution

June 28-29, 2005 Reactions to the above vote of the Anglican Consultative Council:



World Council of Churches
  • World Council of Churches Executive Committee issues "Statement on Israel/Palestine - The Time is Ripe to Do What is Right" (May 19, 2006)
    Describes the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in terms of radical disparities, claims "current impasse" is based on double-standards, and urges major nations to engage with democratically-elected Palestinian leaders, both "sides" to recognize each other's right to exist, and a return to 1967 borders.

    • Anti-Defamation League (ADL) response describes WCC statement as blaming Israel alone for the conflict, ignoring new threats to Israel posed by the Hamas-led Palestinian government and Iran, and overlooking steps Israel has taken to make peace. (May 23, 2006)



Evangelical Lutheran Church in America





Six Jewish groups urge mainline Churches against Israeli divestment
  • Text of letter from the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Orthodox Union, the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism to the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church (April 22, 2005)



United Church of Canada



United Church of Christ
  • A number of United Church of Christ of the USA congregations ? four from Hawaii, one from Montana, and one from the State of Washington ? have submitted a resolution "Calling for a Study of Divestment of Church Funds from Companies that Profit from the Perpetuation of Violence and Injustice in Israel and Palestine" for consideration at the July 2005 25th general assembly. Click here for the full text of the resolution.
  • The 25th General Assembly of the United Church of Christ passed two resolutions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on July 5, 2005. Neither of them are considered binding until an October review and approval by the church's Executive Council:
    • The Resolution Concerning Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East called for:

      "[the use of] economic leverage, including, but not limited to: advocating the reallocation of US foreign aid so that the militarization of the Middle East is constrained; making positive contributions to groups and partners committed to the non-violent resolution of the conflict; challenging the practices of corporations that gain from the continuation of the conflict; and divesting from those companies that refuse to change their practices of gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the Occupation; and ... that all settings of the United Church of Christ are urged to remain committed to interreligious dialogue and to participation with Jewish, Christian and Muslim partners to work for peace in Israel-Palestine; and ... that materials [be developed] that may be used by all settings of the church to discern how economic leverage can be used to support the development of Palestine and Israel as two independent, secure, economically viable states ..."
    • A separate resolution entitled Tear Down the Wall called for:

      " the Israeli government to cease the project to construct the barrier, tear down the segments that have already been constructed, and make reparations to those who have lost homes, fields, property, and/or lives and health due to the barrier and its effects as security for both peoples can best be achieved through an end to the occupation and efforts to encourage access and contact, rather than restricting and denying it ..."
    • A UCC minister, Rev. David Runnion-Bareford of Candia, NH, Executive Director of the Biblical Witness Fellowship, an evangelical group within the United Church of Christ, issued the following statement in response to the General Assembly votes:

      On behalf of the many thousands of United Church of Christ members who opposed any action by the United Church of Christ against Israel at the 25th General Synod in Atlanta, we apologize to our Jewish friends and neighbors both here and in Israel for the action of our Synod and leaders.

      We recognize that the two resolutions passed by the Synod, one calling for divestment and the other for Israel to "Tear Down the Wall," create a deepened liability to the safety of our Jewish friends. The resolutions as they were proposed and debated openly equated the only democracy in the mid-east region with the apartheid regime in South Africa and the murderous, enslaving tyranny of Soviet communism. Such comparisons can only serve to encourage anti-semitism and give comfort to those terrrorists who have criminally murdered over 1000 Israeli citizens and maimed over 7000 using teenagers and women as homicide bombers.

      We recognize with sorrow and deep concern that these misguided actions by the United Church of Christ in General Synod 25 violate our commitment to peace and justice. Indeed they seriously threaten the relationship between Christians and Jews that has evolved since the horror of the holocaust. We must never forget that some of our theological as well as historic roots are in the liberal church of Germany that abdicated responsibility when faced with history once before.

    Despite their contrasting headlines, the first two items above are similar in focusing on the economic resolution, while the third reacts more to the resolution concerning the "security wall."

    • American Jewish Congress issued the following statement on July 8:

      AJCongress Disappointed in UCC Resolutions on Middle East

      Based on reports from the United Church of Christ news service, while the UCC resolution on economic leverage in the Middle East contains positive ideas, the American Jewish Congress finds unacceptable the resolution?s inclusion of divestment as a course of action. ?Investment is constructive and creates hope, while divestment from one side is destructive and unjustifiable,? said Neil B. Goldstein, AJCongress Executive Director. ?We urge the UCC to choose the responsible path.?

      Dr. Eugene Korn, AJCongress Director of Jewish Affairs, commented ?The UCC opted for positive and constructive use of economic leverage as a first option. This will help Jewish-Christian relations and aid Israelis and Palestinians working for peace. But if UCC decides to divest from companies doing business with Israel, it will lose its moral credibility and harm chances for peace. In the end, the call for divestment is rhetoric to weaken Israel and strengthen the extremists and the rejectionists.?

      The AJCongress condemns the second UCC resolution regarding Israel?s defensive barrier. Goldstein continued, ??The Tear Down the Wall? resolution is deeply flawed in law, facts and moral logic. It fails completely to acknowledge that the separation barrier is a legitimate defense against Palestinian terrorists who continue to try to murder innocent Israeli civilians. The barrier should be removed only after the Palestinian Authority apprehends the terrorists in its midst, dismantles the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, and signs a peace agreement with Israel. There can be no peace before responsible Palestinians take these steps.?

  • September 19, 2006: John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, U.C.C., "'From Time to Time a New Shipment of History Arrives' - The Church, the Synagogue, and the Dilemma of the Middle East," Fall Convocation Address United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

    An address that reviews UCC statements on Judaism. The tone of the sixteen-page text can be seen in its concluding sentences: "The current state of our relationship, stretched almost to breaking by the dilemmas of the Middle East and the depressing regularity of new shipments of history, does not offer an encouraging atmosphere within which to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the 1987 General Synod?s groundbreaking theological affirmations. Yet it is those very affirmations that offer the promise that this precious relationship cannot ultimately be broken and impels us, amid all of today?s challenge and confrontation to find ways to embody the unbreakable covenants that bear witness to the faithfulness of God."
  • June 22, 2007: The 26th General Synod sent a resolution titled "IN SUPPORT OF A RENEWED AND BALANCED STUDY AND RESPONSE
    " to the Executive Council  for implementation. This council is "to establish a Task Force to engage in serious and balanced study of the causes, history and context of the conflict, including appropriate responses to the situation that may or may not lead to further support of economic leverage and judicious removal of the security barrier. The Task Force is to report to the 27th General Synod in 2009 for any necessary further action, and also to report to all settings of the Church so that they, too, may have a deeper understanding of the situation."


The United Methodist Church
  • Methodist's Mission to Demonize Israel, August 22, 2007
  • The New England Conference passed Resolution 204 in 2005 with regard to divestment from companies supporting the Israeli occupation.
  • In June 2007, the Divestment Task Force published its Report and Recommendations, listing specific companies from which it recommends divestment.
  • The ADL issued the following statement on June 28, 2007:



     New York, NY, June 28, 2007 ? The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said a new United Methodist Church report recommending divestment from 20 companies that do business with the State of Israel ?borders on anti-Semitism.?  A report by the Divestment Task Force of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church recommends divestment from 20 companies, ?identified as supporting the Israeli occupation in Palestine.?  The report says that ?ending the Israeli occupation is a stated goal of the United Methodist Church.?

    ?This call for divestment by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church borders on anti-Semitism,? said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  ?The authors of the report must be living in a bubble to ignore ongoing attacks on Israel and Hamas? violent takeover of Gaza to issue such an outrageous, biased report that focuses only on Israel.?

    Mr. Foxman added, ?While this Methodist task force has busied itself researching divestment, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah perpetrated war against Israel, and rocket attacks targeted Israeli cities and towns in the north and the south.  Yet the Methodists seem to believe that they need to teach Israel a lesson.?

    The ADL leader noted that the report is out of step with another mainline Protestant organization, the United Church of Christ, which recently and publicly acknowledged their unbalanced, biased policies against Israel and have moved to change them.  Just this week, the UCC called for a new, balanced study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that takes into account Palestinian suicide bombers and the continued teaching of hatred in schools and the media.

    ?The facts show that any decent fair-minded, spiritual, godly person would not come to a conclusion to boycott the State of Israel, the one that has been praying for peace, suing for peace, hoping for peace,? said Mr. Foxman.

    The Methodist divestment report follows a 2005 divestment resolution adopted by the New England Chapter. ?The goal is to make all United Methodists and other Americans aware of their relationship to companies that benefit from the Israeli occupation,? said a statement by the United Methodist Church. ?The urgency of the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories cannot be overstated.?

    The United Methodist Church is holding its national conference next year, where divestment resolutions will be debated and acted upon.



The Role of Palestinian Advocacy Groups
  • An article by James Besser in the July 21, 2005 The Jewish Week alleges that nationalist Palestinian organizations ? that reject a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis ? have been catalyzing recent divestment campaigns in several mainline Protestant churches. The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem figures prominently in the article's description of the United Church of Christ's general assembly meeting held earlier in July (see above).

    For the article click here: "Palestinian Nationalists Seen Behind Divestment."