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The Jewish Federations of North America
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Israel Action Network: Divestment Resolution Defeated in Methodist Church 
May 3, 2012

An attempt to force the United Methodist Church (UMC) to divest from three companies doing business with Israel was overwhelmingly defeated yesterday at the UMC’s quadrennial General Conference. Instead the UMC supported a motion calling for “positive investment” into the Palestinian economy, by a three to one margin.

"We are glad that responsible voices in the UMC were able to defeat this harmful proposal and focus on positive investment," said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.

"The rejection of divestment is a welcome outcome and a relief to me and the over 1,200 American rabbis who signed an unprecedented letter to Church delegates offering partnership in peacemaking and warning that divestment would undermine ongoing efforts for peace and damage interfaith relations." Gutow added that "Divestment is a blunt tool that, by singling out Israel, actually makes reconciliation more difficult."

Had the divestment resolution passed, it would have required the UMC to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions. Efforts to remove divestment language succeeded in the early stages of the General Conference and attempts to add it back failed in committee and plenary by two to one margins. The final resolution, which calls for positive investment, passed by a three to one margin.

The Rabbinic letter was signed by clergy in all 50 states. The letter was coordinated by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Israel Action Network, a joint initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America and the JCPA, together with leaders from the American Jewish Committee and the Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Orthodox movements.

Notwithstanding the positive outcome on divestment, serious concerns remain, as the General Conference also narrowly passed an unhelpful resolution rebuking Israeli settlements and calling for a boycott of products made in them - although explicitly rejecting a boycott of products made in Israel.

You can read more about the vote in The New York Times today. For questions, please contact IAN Director of Communications, Social Media and Research, Emily Hochberg at Emily.Hochberg@JewishFederations.org.

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