Methodist Church Rejects Divestment Initiative

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The United Methodist Church plenary rejected an initiative to divest from three companies doing business in Israel.

The latest divestment initiative, backed by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, called on the Methodist Church -- and the Presbyterian Church of America -- to boycott Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard.

In an op-ed posted in Tuesday's Tampa Bay Times, Tutu accused the companies of realizing a "profit from Israel's violations of Palestinian human rights and denial of Palestinian freedom."

The United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR), which initiated the divestment plan, were disappointed with the vote.

The plenary "faced a choice between standing with the oppressed as Jesus did or yielding to fear," the group said in a statement.

A letter signed by more than 1,200 North American rabbis urged delegates to reject the divestment initiative.

"Divestment, and the specious Apartheid terminology that frequently accompanies it, polarizes people and communities so that the policy of divestment, and not peace, becomes the central issue," the letter stated.

"Divestment will undermine the ability of many Israelis to imagine peace. Decades of terrorism and rejection have left Israelis feeling threatened and isolated. Many of the major proponents of divestment do not support Israel's right to exist -- thus deepening this fear," it continued.

"Divestment as a policy is more likely to encourage those with more extreme aims than to foster reconciliation. Simply put, the bitter debate over divestment drowns out the real conversation about how to end the conflict," it said.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

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