Mennonite Church USA votes for divestment resolution to protest Israeli occupation

On July 6, the Mennonite Church USA voted to divest from companies that are profiting from the Israeli military occupation as part of its efforts to fight anti-Semitism and build stronger ties with Jewish communities.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / JonHarder)Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Goessel, Kansas, United States. 11 August 2007.

During a national convention in Orlando, Florida, 98 percent of the Mennonite Church USA's 550 delegates voted to divest from the financial holdings of corporations that benefit from the Israeli military occupation. The divestment resolution comes at the heels of the United Church of Christ's vote to condemn Israel for the way it allegedly treats Palestinian children, the Jewish News Service reported.

The Mennonite Church is now asking its financial agency Everence to "review investment practices for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation." The resolution also urges its supporters to review their investments in Israel.

Meanwhile, an evangelical litigation expert has slammed the Mennonite Church's vote to divest and called it anti-Semitic. Liberty Counsel chairman and Christians in Defense of Israel president Mat Staver says the "occupied territories"are wrongly labeled and that Israel is the only free nation in the Middle East, the Jerusalem Post relayed.

Staver said Israel has a legitimate claim to the West Bank, as Jews have resided in the area for millennia. He said the leaders of the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel are only out to destroy the country.

"The divestment resolution is both antisemitic and unwise. Israel is a leader in economy and a world leader in technology, business, agriculture and more," said Staver. "Divesting in Israel will only harm those who divest."

This is not the first time that the divestment proposal has been discussed in the Mennonite Church's national meeting. Two years ago, the congregation rejected a similar proposal, fearing that the resolution would be viewed as anti-Semitic.

Other churches that have voted for resolutions to divest from their holdings in Israel include the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Quakers, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Unitarian Universalists.