More than 130 Israelis have signed a letter expressing support for United Methodist divestment from companies that sustain Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. They join many Jewish groups and a number of Holocaust survivors in backing divestment proposals which will be considered at the denomination's General Conference, April 23 - May 2, 2008, in Ft. Worth, Texas. These proposals and statements of support are provided at www.unitedmethodistdivestment.com.
"We, as Israelis, express our support of the 2004 resolution adopted by the General Conference of the Methodist Church that states "The United Methodist Church opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements and any vision of a 'Greater Israel' that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings [Book of Resolutions, 2004, #12]." Should the Methodist Church in the wake of the above resolution elect to divest from companies that enable the occupation to continue, we the undersigned shall applaud your courageous initiative, and fervently hope that it will set an example for many others to follow.
We assure the Methodist Church that it is no more anti-Semitic to criticize and oppose Israeli government policies than it was anti-American to oppose the Vietnam war or is anti-American to oppose the present war in Iraq. It is never anti-Semitic to oppose injustice, destruction, gross inequity, and inequality. We also assure the Church that Israel, having the fourth most powerful military in the world, is in no existential danger.
As citizens devoted to the promotion of peace and democracy in the region, we denounce the international community's continued economic investments in our country which directly and indirectly support Israel's daily violations of international law and colonization of the occupied territories. We fear the potentially irreversible damage created by Israeli occupation, by Israel's unilateral plans, and by the international community's impotence in ending Israel's occupation. We realize that Israel's occupation of Palestinians and their lands will probably not end without international sanctions.
Moreover, Israelis, as well as Palestinians, will benefit from ending the occupation Symmetry neve exists between occupier and occupied, oppressor and oppressed. Yet Israelis suffer from loss of life, increase in militarism, and a steady devaluation of human life. This latter is particularly evident in the socio-economic sphere and the affliction of post-traumatic distress.
Successive Israeli governments have spent enormous amounts of money on expansion, to the detriment of social benefits for the Israeli population. While it is true that had there been no occupation, Israeli governments might not have spent the money on social benefits, the fact that expansion continues apace alongside continued endeavors of ethnic cleansing reveals Israel's intention to rid the West Bank of as many Palestinians as possible and to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state.
To this end, money is spent on maintaining a large military presence in the occupied Palestinian Territories, on erecting the apartheid wall at 4 million dollars a mile, with 400 miles planned (twice as long as if it had been built on the 'green line'), and constructing more housing units in highly subsidized settlements. In December 2007, for instance, the Israeli Housing Ministry announced that it was building 300 more units on Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghnaim to Palestinians), with another 1000 intended, and more recently has begun construction of 60 homes in the Ras Al-Amud section of East Jerusalem. Israel claims Har Homa to be a part of Jerusalem, but the international community regards Israel's construction on it and in East Jerusalem to be further illegal colonization of Palestinian land. Given the subsidies and other perks with which Israel lures Israelis to colonize the West Bank, it is small wonder that population increase in the occupied Palestinian territory is five to six percent, by contrast to the two to three percent maximum growth in Israeli communities within Israel proper. Israel additionally spends much on constructing super-highways for Israelis-only in the occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as for lookout towers (that can double as sniper towers), and checkpoints galore. Furthermore, the majority of the more than 500 checkpoints separate Palestinian communities from one another.
While all this is taking place at considerable economic cost, poverty in Israel has increased sharply. Israel in 2006 gained the dubious notoriety of having the worst poverty level in the Western world, and has retained this position through 2007. Over one quarter of Israelis now live under the poverty line..."
To read the letter in its entirety and view signatures go to: www.unitedmethodistdivestment.com/Israeliletter.htm. Dorothy Naor, author and originator of the letter, can be contacted in Israel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Susanne Hoder
Member, Divestment Task Force
New England Conference of the United Methodist Church