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April 17, 2012: American Rabbis to Methodist Church: Don't Divest

05:34 PM Apr 17, 2012

American Rabbis to Methodist Church: Don't Divest

Rabbi Steve Gutow, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, joined more than 1,200 American rabbis in signing a letter that is being sent to United Methodist Church delegates. The letter opposes an anti-Israel divestment resolution being considered at the Methodist Church’s quadrennial General Conference which opens next week in Tampa, Florida.

Delegates at the Conference are expected to debate a resolution calling for divestment from three companies for their sales to Israel. Additional proposals of concern under consideration are support for an embargo of goods made in settlements and an endorsement of the controversial Kairos Palestine document. The Presbyterian Church (USA) will vote on similar divestment resolutions when it meets two months later.  The PCUSA will also consider a resolution labeling Israel as an apartheid state.

“A letter signed by so many Rabbis demonstrates the breadth and depth of the American Rabbinate’s commitment to the finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; something which cannot be achieved through divestment,” said Gutow. “I am privileged to join my colleagues from all fifty states, leaders from the Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Orthodox movements, rabbinic groups and seminaries, and some of the most influential Jewish thinkers and theologians of our time.  There is a clear rabbinic consensus - divestment efforts will tear the fabric of our interfaith relationships and undermine ongoing efforts for peace.”

The Rabbinic letter spells out the profound concern of the signatories about the one-sided nature of the divestment proposals, which "shamefully" paint Israel as a pariah nation. "For Jews, the use of economic leverages against the Jewish state is fraught with inescapable associations,” the letter states. “They resonate in the Jewish consciousness with historic boycotts against Jewish companies and the State of Israel…policies that knowingly tap into the deepest fears and pain of another is, in our tradition, a serious failure of relationship."

It also spells out a commitment to a negotiated two-state solution, which includes Palestinian state building and economic development, programs of reconciliation, understanding of multiple narratives, humanitarian aid and other areas where collective action is needed to help foster peace. Divestment, the note explains, runs in opposition to these goals and "is more likely to encourage those with extreme aims” - and is so contentious that it "drowns out the real conversation about how to end the conflict.”

“At a time when politics in general have become so divisive, here and abroad, our efforts should be aimed toward reconciliation,” the letter continues. “Together and independently, Christians, Jews, and Muslims must give the parties to the conflict the confidence they need to move toward peace.”

To view the letter and all signatures, please visit

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