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United Church of Christ divests from Israel

United Church of Christ divests from Israel

Resolution calling Israel guilty of Crime of Apartheid fails to get 2/3 needed.

We highlighted recently resolutions at the United Church of Christ’s 30th Synod in Cleveland seeking (1) divestment from certain named companies (such as Caterpillar), and (2) declaring Israeli guilty of the Crime of Apartheid as defined in the 1998 Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court.

These take place through years-long efforts by anti-Israel Christian groups like Sabeel, which use Jewish Voice for Peace as religious cover for the noxious efforts.

The divestment resolution originally was limited to specified companies, but in committee at the Synod was amended to include sweeping language governing any company that does business, directly or indirectly, in “occupied” territory.

United Church Christ Israel Divestment Resolution 1

This would include, for example, companies doing business in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, which was illegally captured by Jordan and then enthically cleansed of Jews and Jewish landmarks before Israel liberated it in 1967.

Moreover, given the new, broad language, it would cover almost every Israeli company. So while the resolution was presented as only divesting from “occupation,” in fact the amended wording made it clear that substantively it was a divestment from Israel.

I watched the entire floor debate on livestream. It was other-worldly, and reflective of how UCC has been captured by anti-Israel groups (such as Sabeel).

The night before, Rev Mitri Raheb of Bethlehem, who has a controversial background when it comes to the history of the Jewish people in Israel, was given a keynote speech.

He specifically gave a shout out to the 9 Jewish people [from Jewish Voice for Peace] advocating at the Synod in favor of the resolution.

Rev Mitri Raheb of Bethlehem at UCC Synod 2015

[Rev Mitri Raheb of Bethlehem at UCC Synod 2015]

In fact, JVP was everywhere, and was referenced by multiple speakers during debate to justify singling Israel out since some Jews supported divestment.

Richard Edens from North Carolina, Chair of Committee 3 that proposed the resolution unanimously, gave a fiery speech in support of divestment:

United Church Christ Israel Divestment Resolution Richard Edens Chair Committee 3

[Richard Edens, Committee Chair, speaking in support of divestment resolution]

Rev. John Deckenback of Atlanta spoke in favor of the resolution:

[United Church Christ Israel Divestment Resolution John Deckenback Atlanta]

[United Church Christ Israel Divestment Resolution John Deckenback Atlanta]

In one of the more disturbing floor speeches in favor of the resolution, Rev. Ryan Dowell Baum from Iowa, who said he as a descendant of a Holocaust survivor, complained that Israel supporters misused the memory of the Holocaust to justify Israel’s own bad conduct.

United Church Christ Israel Divestment Resolution Rev Ryan Dowell Baum Iowa in favor of divestment Israel using Holocaust as excuse

[Rev. Ryan Dowell Baum from Iowa complained that Israel supporters improperly used Holocaust to justify Israel’s actions]

This speaker, whose name I didn’t get, called for the Synod to pass divestment in order to stand with Jewish Voice for Peace.

[Speaker in support of divestment says "Stand with Jewish Voice for Peace"]

[Speaker in support of divestment says “Stand with Jewish Voice for Peace”]

Many speakers pointed out that the debate leading up to the resolution was dominated only by supporters of divestment, and that JVP did not represent all of the Jewish community.

This speaker specifically pointed out that only one side was heard:

United Church Christ Israel Divestment Resolution Joanne Marquetto Need to hear both sides

[United Church of Christ member on Divestment resolution: We have heard only one side]

 The resolution passed overwhelmingly (2/3 majority was needed):

[United Church Christ Israel Divestment Resolution Vote Count]

[United Church Christ Israel Divestment Resolution Vote Count]

The Apartheid Resolution was particularly noxious.

It sought to  declare Israel guilty of the Crime of Apartheid as defined in the International Criminal Court’s enabling statute. As discussed in my prior post, the legal statements in the Apartheid Resolution were false and deliberately misleading, and the factual recitations were completely one-sided (no mention, for example, of Israel’s legal rights and to self-defense against suicide bombers and other terrorists.)

The Apartheid resolution was introduced by, and vigorously advocated by Bill Lyons:

[United Church Christ Israel Apartheid Resolution Bill Lyons Apartheid]

[United Church Christ Israel Apartheid Resolution Bill Lyons]

Again, the arguments in favor were distressing.  This person went on a rant comparing modern day Israelis to the Israelites against whom the prophets warned:

[Speaker in favor of Apartheid Resolution compares modern Israelis to Israelites against whom propets warned.]

[Speaker in favor of Apartheid Resolution compares modern Israelis to Israelites against whom propets warned.]

There were several people who stood up and opposed the resolution, properly pointing out that the term “Apartheid” did not apply to the reality, and warning that such a resolution would be viewed as a knife in the back by the Jewish community.

As with divestment, Jewish Voice for Peace was supporting the anti-Israel resolution. These two UCC student members spoke to convey JVP’s request that the Synod approve the Apartheid resolution:

[United Church of Christ Apartheid Resolution Student conveying message from JVP to vote for]

[United Church of Christ Apartheid Resolution Student conveying message from JVP to vote for]

Here is what was on the screen just as voting started:

[United Church of Christ 2015 Apartheid Resolution Shown on Screen

[United Church of Christ 2015 Apartheid Resolution Shown on Screen

In the end, the resolution was almost evenly split. (It got a minority of total votes case, since abstentions serve as the equivalent of a No vote, but it needed a 2/3 majority.)

United Church of Christ 2015 Apartheid Resolution Vote Count

The incoming President of UCC expressed some hesitation about the result:

John Dorhauer, the newly elected UCC general minister and president, expressed his mixed emotions after the vote. “I will be obligated as the officer of this denomination and by mandate of General Synod to speak publicly the action taken here. But I will do so with a deep awareness at the pain that I will cause to people who I care about deeply,” he said. “And I will do so, to be quite frank, wondering if the benefits of our divesting from those companies is equal to cost to the relationships that we have with people who are critical to our movement towards justice, not just in Palestine but in many other places.”

That’s all well and good, but it was clear from the UCC Synod website that UCC administratively was supportive of the resolutions.

While it’s true that UCC is a shrinking denomination, that doesn’t mean the divestment isn’t symbolically important. As with faculty associations, smaller groups which more easily are manipulated are the first in a series of ratchets on the way to larger groups.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here, which we will address in later posts. Among them is the pernicious role played by Jewish Voice for Peace, and the investment that BDS makes for multiple years in these efforts to make sure the debate and information flow is one sided.

UPDATE: As many of the speakers against divestment during the floor debate predicted, the resolution simply proved to the Israeli government that divestment is a one-sided propaganda campaign:

The Israeli government, which has become increasingly concerned by the B.D.S. movement, reacted swiftly to the United Church of Christ’s boycott resolution, describing the church’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as distorted and historically biased against Israel.

“The U.C.C. resolutions on the Middle East conflict have reflected the most radical politics for more than a decade, and in no way reflect a moral stance or reality-based position,” said Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Afffairs. “People of faith ought to be acting to help Israel and the Palestinians to renew efforts to achieve peace, rather than endlessly demonizing one party in the conflict — in our view, the aggrieved party.”


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What? Did you think Satan would hand his agents horns and pitchforks before sending them out to do his bidding? Old scratch has a better understanding of human nature than that. His agents look like us, and sound sincere and earnest.

Matthew 7:15-16 – Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

Mal (in “Serenity”): I just don’t get it. How’s a man get so wrong?

It takes some industrial-strength delusions and self-aggrandizement. Oddly enough, that is a common enough set of traits among the Collective’s more sanctimonious pukes.

Will this cause them to be affected by the anti-BDS terms of the recently passed trade agreement?

    Milhouse in reply to Avraham. | July 1, 2015 at 12:25 am

    How would it? First of all, you mean the recently renewed negotiating authority that Congress gave the president. So far the president hasn’t negotiated anything with anyone. Second of all, the UCC is not a country, so the president has no plans to negotiate any trade agreements with it.

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | June 30, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Enforce the Truth in Advertising law!

They’re clearly the “United Church of Anti-Christ!

LukeHandCool | June 30, 2015 at 5:09 pm

10 years after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Gaza is looking less and less like a potential Singapore or Hong Kong of the Middle East. Indeed, it’s looking more and more like a terrorist hellhole.

Flunking grade.

And JVP, UCC, BDS, and their ilk see promise in further Israeli unilateral withdrawal?

As we snub our ally Israel and cave to an Iranian regime dedicated to Israel’s destruction …

As ISIS becomes a greater and greater varsity threat …

As threats and violence against Jews in Europe escalate …

These fatally naïve busybodies show that violence against Israelis, not negotiation, pays dividends in increasing international pressure from a whole host of organizations misguided at best, and for all practical purposes—whether intentional or not, conscious or subconscious—anti-Semitic at worst, which have no business taking sides, let alone engaging in boycotts and the like of an American ally.

With all the myriad tensions between ethnic/racial/religious groups and nation states in this world, for these groups to focus their moral antennae on Israel is absurd beyond belief.

You’re going to boycott and divest from Caterpillar??!!

I’m sorry, but you’ve emerged from your ideological cocoon not a beautiful butterfly, but a clueless moth haranguing us all to race you to the flame.

It’s hard to think of a more quintessentially American company than Caterpillar. A business which basically makes earth-moving equipment (something the destructively industrious Palestinian terrorists proved they don’t need with the discovery of their elaborate underground tunnels).

You’re going to target a company that sells its products around the world? We’re not talking about a company that makes land mines or grenades or Qassam rockets. It makes earth-moving construction and mining equipment!

Maybe that’s the problem. It’s products are used for construction, not destruction.

It’s one thing for busybodies to be misguided. It’s quite another for them to be misguided in a way where they are mucking not only with a people’s livelihood, but their very safety and existence!

For gentiles to do this is just shameless. For Jews to do it is beyond bizarre and psychologically baffling.

Perhaps there’s some weird geopolitical version of Munchausen syndrome by proxy that is yet to be identified by psychologists.

I know satire is dead. But does logic have to die, too, at the same time?

LukeHandCool (whose vacation starts tomorrow and who will insist upon an electronic-less existence for the next two weeks for his family and himself … to once again get reacquainted with sanity by shielding himself from the news from a world going nuts … and to introduce his kids to the slow, often boring joys of board games and cards and Archies comics and the like when not snorkeling around. As Luke’s son said, “If you whip out an acoustic guitar and try to start a sing-a-long around a fire, I’m gone.”)

Michael Haz | June 30, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Caterpillar? Huh? The UCC has come out as anti-dragline, anti tractor, anti-bulldozer, anti-giant dump truck?

I’m old enough to remember when Christian churches were all about teaching and learning the Gospels.

Just a guess here, but look for UCC membership numbers to decline rapidly, leaving only SJWs and elderly hippies in (or driving by) the pews.


Phony Christians should revolt and and repulse all true Christians. And make no mistake, these are not real Christians. They are Satan’s own.

LukeHandCool | June 30, 2015 at 6:35 pm

I’m not a Christian, but I am a gentile (save for the 1/8 Jewish blood from my maternal great-grandmother Hirschbein).

I’d like to ask my fellow gentiles at the UCC:

Do Jewish synagogues/temples involve themselves in the boycotting and divestment of any Western nations?

If not, then why should you as a religious organization not only involve yourself, but also take sides against and engage in punitive measures against Israel?

Is there nothing else going on in this world (perhaps closer to home) that merits your attention? From where do you derive your priorities?

These are sincere questions. I am completely baffled, as well as disgusted, by your actions.

tarheelkate | June 30, 2015 at 8:13 pm

UCC membership numbers are already plummeting, for reasons like this among many others.

It is embarrassing to me as a Christian to see this kind of rabid ill-informed leftism masquerading as part of my religion. But the UCC in general has been far divided from any sort of traditional Christian belief for many years.

Uncle Samuel | July 1, 2015 at 8:13 am

The UCC is now counterfeit, apostate, heretical. It has become a liberal cult.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 1, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Any group or person (Jimmy Carter, GWBush, etc.) that defends the Palestinians, Hamas(or any Islamists) and derides Israel lacks spiritual discernment and a knowledge of history.

    Jordan is Arab Palestine and Israel, West Bank and Gaza belong to Israel and is illegally occupied by Arab/Palestinians. This is Israel’s land by international agreement and it was invaded and has been held illegally by the Islamists.

    Israel has given up land for peace far too many times. Islamists do not respect borders and do not abide by treaties.

Juba Doobai! | July 1, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Yawn! Long before the UCC divested from Israel (in which business in what Islamic country will they invest?) they divested from God and His Word.