Presbyterian Delegation Unanimously Supports MRTI Call to Divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard
*MRTI is the Mission Responsibility through Investment Committee of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
All eyes are on the Presbyterian Church (USA) - Palestinian and Israeli activists call for use of boycott, divestment, and sanctions to end illegal settlements and dismantle the Occupation
Twenty-eight Presbyterians - artists, musicians, students, church leaders and activists - spent twelve days in January traveling in the Holy Lands and meeting with nonviolent activists from Israel and Palestine.
Omar Barghouti, a leader in the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, called on the Presbyterian Church to divest itself of stock in companies that support or benefit from the Occupation “What we are asking for is hardly heroic,” Barghouti said. “We just want your church to stop paying our oppressors to oppress us."
Rami Elhanan is an Israeli who lost his fourteen-year-old daughter in an attack by a suicide bomber. He is also the son of an Auschwitz survivor and he lost his grandparents in the Holocaust. Reflecting on the madness of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, he beseeched the delegation: “Please don’t stand idly by... I am asking you not to be pro-Israel, nor pro-Palestine, but to be pro-Peace.”
Moments later, Bassam Aramin, his Palestinian partner in the Parents Circle of the Bereaved Families Forum, whose ten-year-old daughter was killed by Israeli border guards reminded the group of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Over and over, among young Israeli Jews, Palestinian Christians, Israeli Palestinians, and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank, the refrain was the same. “You have the power to force the State of Israel to make a change of direction it will never make on its own. Please support our nonviolent struggle by engaging in boycotts and divestment and supporting strategies that will force Israel to be a country that conforms to basic standards of international law and respect for human rights.”
Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour asked Presbyterians to commit to investing in the Palestinian economy and also to provide leadership in the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. “Investing in our economy is an act of resistance that helps Palestinians not to give up,” he said. “But don’t be fooled into thinking that it will help us to end the occupation. BDS is an important tool for that.”
At the Tent of Nations, just southwest of Bethlehem, Amal Nasser repeated the refrain over and over again. “Help us to break the cycle of violence,” she said. “Help us to break the cycle of violence.”
The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship stands with Israelis and Palestinians who are committed to nonviolence. We call on the Presbyterian Church (USA) to show leadership in the international movement for Boycott and Divestment from companies that are supporting or benefitting from the Occupation of Palestine.
Members of the press may contact the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship at email@example.com.