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United Church of Christ Proposed Resolution: Israel guilty of Crime of Apartheid

United Church of Christ Proposed Resolution: Israel guilty of Crime of Apartheid

Upcoming General Synod to consider multiple anti-Israel proposed resolutions.

The progressive United Church of Christ is no stranger to controversy when it comes to Israel.

UCC has had close ties (see pp. 44-46 of linked pdf.) to Friends of Sabeel – North America, the U.S. branch of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, a Jerusalem-based non-governmental organization that leads efforts to alienate Christians from supporting Israel. (See Recent NGO Monitor Report (pdf.)).  We will have more on Sabeel in a later post.

Those ties included a UCC Church in Boston hosting a Sabeel conference in 2007 on finding new paradigms to fit Israel under the definition of Apartheid.

But UCC may be about to elevate its controversial status dramatically, with the 30th General Synod commencing June 24 26 having placed before it three resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, among a total of 16 resolutions. All three of the resolutions carry the following explanation: “The Board of Directors recommends this resolution be sent to a Committee of the General Synod.”

Anti-Israel activists are treating all three as up for consideration, but whether it goes to a general vote is unclear as of this writing. UCC’s promotional material also suggests all three resolutions will come to a vote:

One of the resolutions (#4) is titled A Call for the United Church of Christ to Take Actions Toward a Just Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (pdf). While seemingly innocuous in title, it essentially is a divestment resolution.

After a litany of “Whereas” accusations of Israeli misconduct, many of which are stated as fact but are disputed, the Resolution, among other things:

346 CALLS upon the United Church of Christ Board, the Pension Boards – United Church of
347 Christ, Inc., United Church Funds, conferences, local churches, members, and other
348 related United Church of Christ entities to divest any holdings in the following
349 companies that have been found to profit from the occupation of the Palestinian
350 territories by the state of Israel: Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard
351 Development Company LP or its successors, G4S, and Veolia Environnement plus its
352 subsidiaries;

Resolution #4 is similar to the divestment resolution narrowly passed last year by the Presbyterian Church – USA, and which frequently is attempted (with mixed success) at college student governments. Desmond Tutu has endorsed the resolution. (See here for background on Tutu’s anti-Israel history.)

Resolution 15, which has the same title as Resolution #4, is virtually identical. (See UCC’s explanation here.)

Resolution #12 is unusual, if not unprecedented, for such a large American church group. It is titled Calling on the United Church of Christ to Recognize the Actions of Israel Against the Palestinians as Apartheid (pdf), and provides in operative part:

210 THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Thirtieth General Synod of the United Church of
211 Christ recognizes the Israeli government’s domination system inside the West Bank and on the
212 borders of the Gaza Strip as having met the International Criminal Court’s definition of the crime
213 of apartheid; ….

As with the other resolutions, #12 contains of litany of accusations against Israel which are presented as fact, but are disputed. But more important, Resolution #12 seeks to have the General Synod render what amounts to a legal opinion. The only portion of the Resolutions addressing the actual ICC definition of the Crime of Apartheid provides as follows:

41 The application of the term apartheid has been broadened to situations beyond South Africa. The
42 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, approved at a United Nations–convened
43 conference and ratified in 2002, included as part of a the International Criminal Court’s
44 jurisdiction “crimes against humanity.” Among the crimes against humanity is the crime of
45 apartheid, that is, “inhumane acts . . . committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining

46 domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and
systematically oppressing them.”1
49 “Racial group” must be understood under the broad definition of racial discrimination provided
50 by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which
51 went into effect in 1969. The Convention’s definition includes “any distinction, exclusion,
52 restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the
53 purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal
54 footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or
any other field of public life. ”

In this explanation, the proposers of the Resolution attempt to skirt a very serious legal problem, which is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is not between two “racial groups” as used in the Rome Statute. Racial group is distinct in the statute from ethnic and religious groups.

Article 7
Crimes against humanity
1. For the purpose of this Statute, ‘crime against humanity’ means any of the
following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack
directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

* * *

(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political,
racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph
3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under
international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph
or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

* * *

(j) The crime of apartheid;

As can be seen above, apartheid is a separate and distinct crime apart from other types of crimes against other identifiable groups.

The crime of apartheid, as the Resolution correctly states, requires domination of one “racial group” over another, by acts which themselves are crimes. The alleged criminal acts by Israelis are disputed, but in any event, Israelis are not a racial group. Israeli citizens are Jews (including almost half who are refugees from or the descendants of refugees from Arab countries) of many races, and non-Jewish Arabs. The conflict is a religious, and to a lesser extent ethnic, conflict similar to conflicts that take place almost everywhere in the world.

No one calls Muslim domination of non-Muslims, even when it involves ethnic cleansing and brutality, “apartheid,” and with good reason — religions are not “racial groups” and therefore can’t fit the definition of apartheid under the Rome Statute even when they brutalize each other.  There are other crimes under the statute which apply to such conduct (e.g. Genocide).

Only Israel is treated with the expansive and loose definition of “apartheid” which, if applied consistently, would apply to many if not most countries around the world, which are organized along religious and ethnic lines.

To try to get over this problem, the UCC Resolution refers to the definition of “racial discrimination” in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. First, it is a different term defined in a different convention.

More important, the Resolution leaves out the next sentence after the one it quotes, which provides (emphasis added):


Article 1

1. In this Convention, the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

2. This Convention shall not apply to distinctions, exclusions, restrictions or preferences made by a State Party to this Convention between citizens and non-citizens.

The highlighted language, which was omitted from the Resolution, demonstrates that distinctions based on citizenship cannot fit the definition of “racial discrimination.” So to the extent Israel treats non-citizens differently (e.g., Israeli Jews and Arabs versus non-citizen Arabs), it is not racial discrimination under the Convention. And that alleged disparate treatment of non-citizen Arabs is the crux of what the Resolution is about.  Thus, the UCC proposed Resolution on apartheid looks to a source for the definition of “racial group” which does not support it.

On Friday morning, and again Sunday, I emailed UCC asking to be provided with the materials, including legal analysis, to be provided to General Synod members on this issue. As of this writing, UCC has not responded.

In a broader context, the attempt to smear Israel as an Apartheid State is part of the strategy devised at the 2001 Durban NGO conference that was so anti-Semitic that the U.S. walked out. (See here for all the details.) It is a strategy that has played out over the past decade, with the accusation of Apartheid being thrown about with frequency against Israel not because Israel meets the international law definition, but because it serves to dehumanize and deligitimize the Jewish People’s right to self-determination.

That UCC is putting forth such resolutions seems contrary to the alleged purpose of UCC in addressing the Middle East dispute, which is to advance peace.

As of this writing, UCC has not responded to my request for the executive position on the Apartheid resolution.


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The United Church Of Christ.

The Collective can torture any words, I guess.

    LukeHandCool in reply to Ragspierre. | June 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    The Left is always saying,

    “If Jesus were alive today, he would be a Democrat” and other B.S. like that.

    Now, with the BDS insanity it’s,

    “If Jesus were alive today, he would NOT be a Jew.”

      First, Jesus was not pro-choice. Judaeo-Christian moral philosophy is incompatible with that doctrine. He would condemn the selective-child policy. He normalized or promoted principled tolerance, not selective exclusion a la “equal”, “no labels”, etc. He would never support killing a human life for secular incentives.

      Second, Jesus was not socialist, communist, fascist, Marxist, etc. He did not promote establishment of authoritarian monopolies and behaviors. He believed and advocated for charitable works and sharing; but, he also recognized the role of an established government in this service. This perspective is validated by Judaeo-Christian religion’s focus on individual dignity and judgment.

Juba Doobai! | June 21, 2015 at 9:18 pm

“Liberation Theology”. That says it all. Communist. Anti-Israel. Follow another gospel. Anti-Israel.

Any time a church departs from the gospel of Christ, they become anti-Israel.

They just need to find a charismatic leader from Hamas who will validate their cause.

How many denominations have ceased being anything resembling a Christian organization and have become political / social justice organizations instead? UCC is just one of quite a few. It is this sort of thing that led my wife and I to leave the PCUSA some 15 years ago and becoming Southern Baptists instead – a decision we have never regretted.

Although I doubt the UCC would claim any allegiance to Joel Osteen’s church, they surely have the same attitude as Osteen’s wife (Victoria?) – going to church isn’t about God, it is all about you. It isn’t about helping others, it is about feeling good about yourself and in particularly feeling morally superior to others. Hey, if a few (or millions) have to lose their lives in the ME so they can feel superior, so be it.

I try to pray every day for Israel and all Christians and Jews and yes, even Muslims in the ME. For Christians and Jews I pray for protection and for Muslims, I pray for their conversion.

Let’s make a resolution that United Church of Christ is guilty of bigotry.

Here here.

Desert_Rat45 | June 21, 2015 at 11:12 pm

I’d like to remind everyone of the true relationship between Muslims and the rest of the world, including those poor fools in the United Church of Christ.

According to Islamic law, the world is divided into two houses: Dar al-Islam, or “the House of Submission”, and Dar al-Harb, or the “House of War”. The former comprises all the lands whose inhabitants have submitted to Allah. Dar al-Islam is the only possible zone in which there can be peace. The rest of the world — the portion governed by infidels — is considered to be permanently at war with all Muslims.

Islam defines “noncombatants” as “innocent Muslims” that is, those believers who have not transgressed against the laws of Allah. No one else can be considered “innocent” under Islamic law.

The infidel’s status is harbi, “enemy”, because he comes from the territory of war. Therefore, according to the inexorable logic of the relevant Koranic verses there is no such thing as a noncombatant infidel. All non-Muslims in Dar al-Harb are enemies, and the believer may and should strike terror into their hearts and kill them when necessary or force them into dhimmitude. Those are the only choices.

The congregation of the United Church of Christ may not be at war with Islam, but Islam is most definitely at war with the congregation.

Genesis 12 1:3

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

This was the very first promise God made to Abraham, when it was Abram and Sarai, not Abraham and Sarah. Abraham kept his side of the bargain, and his descendants physically in Israel have kept theirs. And the above were the only conditions to the original deal. Other stipulations and promises came later, but it’s unclear to what extent later stipulations affect the original promise.

Since Israel has been reestablished, it’s been a blessing to the world. Look at the strides made in agriculture, and the medical advances. The Nobles Prizes in Chemistry aren’t too shabby, either. How has fate treated Israel’s friends and enemies since its reestablishment?

The pledge above has made me nervous ever since my country stopped being Israel’s friend. It would *terrify* me to belong to a Christian church which was voting on a proposal to curse Israel.

Fascism 12 1:3:

“Hatred of all things Jewish is good for business.”

They support this?

Have they read the Hamas Covenant?

If not, why not?

    n.n in reply to Valerie. | June 22, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    They have read neither the Hamas covenant nor the “Palestinian” history. The people have been poorly served by their leaders and a South African solution is not forthcoming.

Geez. And here I thought the Episcopal Church had gone off the deep end of progressivism. These guys make them look like amateurs.

Good God! Are all mainline Protestant Churches dirty from politics? Maybe it’s best to trust no church and no preachers. It seems the Catholic Church is once again flirting with fascism as well.

“[P]olitics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement. No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of duties. Those who quit their proper character to assume what does not belong to them are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the character they leave and of the character they assume. Wholly unacquainted with the world, in which they are so fond of meddling, and inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with so much confidence, they have nothing of politics but the passions they excite. Surely the church is a place where one day’s truce ought to be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.”

– Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution In France, 1790

Empress Trudy | June 22, 2015 at 10:19 am

They seem to have checked off every single far left ’cause’ that’s commonly held as sacrosanct progressive-ism.

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | June 22, 2015 at 11:35 am

Hmmmm……how many zombies belong to this fake…er…cough cough “church?”

Can’t be many………

That agenda listing looks more like the Green Party convention than anything to do with following Christ…..