Simon Wiesenthal Center Applauds Methodist Rejection of Extremist BDS Agenda

May 20, 2016

The Simon Wiesenthal Center applauds the news that the United Methodist Church (UMC) has decided to distance itself from the extremist position of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. Delegates voting at the quadrennial General Conference in Portland voted by a large margin to recommend that the Church’s agencies sever relations with The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (ETO), a flagship organization devoted to delegitimizing the Jewish State. Delegates also, by a lopsided margin, defeated an amendment calling for divestment from Israel.

“Barring any eleventh hour walk-backs, we have arrived at a historical moment,” commented Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the director of interfaith affairs for the Wiesenthal Center. Several divestment resolutions that were meant to punish Israel were beaten back in committee, despite years of preparation and electioneering. Delegates realized that BDS does nothing for Palestinians (other than deprive them and their families of job opportunities), and is divisive in a church already struggling with its own issues. We note appreciatively that divestment resolutions were replaced by ones calling for investment in the Palestinian economy, which produces immediate gains for Palestinians, and incentivizes them to preserve gains by seeking peace through negotiation. This shift also restores the UMC to the position of a fair broker, which can nudge groups of Israelis and Palestinians to work cooperatively (in the fashion of scores of such ventures) to create jobs and opportunity.

“We hope that this represents a eureka moment for American mainline churches. The rationale that accompanied the anti-BDS resolution approved by the delegates says it best: ‘This one-sided political coalition’s website reveals that its agenda includes seeking “to isolate Israel economically, socially, and culturally,” and promoting “comprehensive divestment” against Israel, while overlooking anti-Israel aggression. Blaming only one side while ignoring the wrongdoing of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran will not advance the cause of peace.’”

For more information, please contact Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, 213.841.3567, or the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).