Washington, DC, November 6, 2017: Leaders representing 17 Christian organizations, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the United Church of Christ, and Global Ministries, sent a letter to all members of Congress today calling on them to oppose the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act.” The legislation was introduced in both the House and the Senate in March of this year.
“As U.S. Christian churches and organizations committed to justice and peace in the Middle East,” the leaders wrote, “we are deeply concerned by the introduction of the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” in the Senate (S.720) and in the House (H.R.1697). This legislation, if adopted, would put legal obstacles in the way of nonviolent peaceful action meant to bring about social change, and would legislate against the freedom to make choices in the stewardship of our financial resources. The bills also conflate Israel and the settlements, erasing the important distinction between Israel and its illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and a signer of the letter said, “The effort to outlaw the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is not only illegal, it will fail to achieve the results intended by those who support this legislation because it will make martyrs of those who are prosecuted and persecuted as a result of this bill.”
The leaders explained in the letter that their opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act “is an effort to change unjust Israeli policy toward Palestinians, not to delegitimize the State of Israel, nor to marginalize or isolate our Jewish neighbors, or their enterprises. Our choices to purchase and invest responsibly, and to advocate with corporations or governments, are motivated by our firm commitments to justice and peace for all people, without discrimination or exclusion.”
Dr. Peter Makari, executive for the Middle East and Europe of Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) said, “No matter each of our churches’ and organizational policy on using economic leverage related to Israel/Palestine, we all support the right to use that leverage, and have done so in many other cases—with success. We do not believe it is appropriate for Congress, or any state legislature, to restrict that right, or to determine how we act to be conscientious and faithful stewards of our resources.”
Urging opposition to the bill, the letter to Congress states, “As churches and church-related organizations, we reject any efforts by the state to curtail these rights. We urge you to oppose the proposed legislation, and thus support the rights of individuals and institutions to spend and invest in accordance with their faith, values, and policies.”
In addition to legislation before Congress, over 20 states have adopted laws or executive orders aimed at boycotts of Israel and/or Israeli settlements located in occupied Palestinian territory.
Signatories to the letter are representatives from the American Friends Service Committee; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Conference of Major Superiors of Men; De La Salle Christian Brothers of the Midwest; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Friends Committee on National Legislation; General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; Mennonite Church USA; National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA; Office of Public Witness of the Church of the Brethren; Pax Christi International; Pax Christi USA; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Reformed Church in America; United Church of Christ.