Desmond Tutu urges divestment from Israel (JERUSALEM POST) By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST CORRESPONDENT 05/02/12)
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WASHINGTON – Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged the United Methodist
Church to divest from Israel Tuesday ahead of a church conference
vote on the policy.
The quadrennial General Conference of the United Methodist Church,
being held in Tampa, Florida, is considering divesting from three
companies doing business with Israel. The vote is scheduled for this
week and could have come as early as Tuesday depending how much
debate occurs on different measures.
Tutu wrote in the Tampa Bay Times that the “harsh reality endured by
millions of Palestinians requires people and organizations of
conscience to divest from those companies – in this instance, from
Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard – profiting from
the occupation and subjugation of Palestinians.”
The South African Nobel Peace Prize winner continued, “Such action
made an enormous difference in apartheid South Africa. It can make an
enormous difference in creating a future of justice and equality for
Palestinians and Jews in the Holy Land.”
A similar motion was defeated at the Methodist general conference
held in 2008, and other motions at this year’s 11- day gathering call
on the conference to reject divestment.
Jewish groups, who worked to counter the move four years ago, have
expressed similar concern this year about the divestment effort.
More than 1,200 North American rabbis wrote to conference delegates
in April to ask them to oppose divestment, which would only affect
companies doing business with Israel.
“A one-sided approach damages the relationship between Jews and
Christians that has been nurtured for decades,” the letter
states. “It promotes a lopsided assessment of the causes of and
solutions to the conflict, disregarding the complex history and
geopolitics. Furthermore, it shamefully paints Israel as a pariah
nation, solely responsible for frustrating peace.”
The rabbis’ letter, which was circulated before the publication of
Tutu’s opinion piece, also took issue with the comparison between
Israel’s policies and those of the former South African government.
“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,” it argues.
Tutu acknowledged in his column that his stance might alienate some
“I am enormously concerned that raising this issue will cause
heartache to some in the Jewish community with whom I have worked
closely and successfully for decades,” he wrote. “But I cannot ignore
the Palestinian suffering I have witnessed, nor the voices of those
courageous Jews troubled by Israel’s discriminatory course.”
United Methodist Church officials did not respond to requests for
comment before press time. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/02/12)
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