Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Statement on the Kairos Response endeavor in the United Methodist Church

From: DarEll Weist
To: all my friends who are a part of the United Methodist Missionary Association

As an Ordained Elder in the California and Pacific Annual Conference, having served 45 years in active ministry and now retired, I am concerned about the Portfolio of the United Methodist General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits.

I have been to Israel and Palestine off and on for the last 30 years and yearly since 2006. In my visits, I have experienced the Occupation first hand.  Each visit introduced me to new despair.  I have seen Negotiations fail, settlements continue to expand and hope for change diminishing.

One of the things I’ve learned from my many  trips is that companies around the world are making huge profits by building settlements,  segregated roads that lead to them and by providing electronic and surveillance equipment for the checkpoints, settlements and the wall that annexes Palestinian land to Israel.  Another thing I’ve learned is that Palestinian Christians are suffering from the occupation like all Palestinians.  They have urgently asked churches and Christians around the world to help end the Occupation.

This is why I joined KAIROS RESPONSE with other concerned United Methodists from Annual Conferences across the US to write a resolution which will be presented to the 2012 General Conference.  It calls for divestment by the United Methodist Church and especially by the General Board of Pensions from three companies that have been asked for years by church members and agencies to stop profiting from the occupation and have not.  The resolution also asks that United Methodist boards and agencies engage with other companies sustaining the occupation and divest within two years if those companies do not change their practices.  Divestment is a step recommended by our Book of Discipline when corporate engagement has failed.

* The Kairos Response group is responding to a call from Palestinian Christians to act along with many other groups in taking economic action to oppose the occupation.   This is consistent with our Social Principles, our Book of Discipline and past resolutions approved by General Conference.

* We know that divestment has worked in the past, and it can work again. South Africa is a good example when General Board Pensions divested $77 million from companies doing business in South Africa.   Once again, we have the opportunity for our investment decisions to help bring an end to human rights abuses.

* This is not a change in policy.  It is an attempt to align our investments with existing United Methodist policy, which clearly opposes the occupation and discourages investments in companies that “directly or indirectly support the violation of human rights.”

* This is not a call for divestment from Israel.  It is a request to be sure we are not investing in companies from any country that keep the occupation going.

* This action will not harm the economy of Israel.  Taking specific international companies out of our portfolios will not harm the economy of Israel, but it will send a strong message in support of justice and peace in the region.

* This action will not harm investors.  It will not violate the fiduciary responsibilities of UM investment managers to their beneficiaries.  The investment funds will simply be switched to other companies.

Selective divestment is consistent with the United Methodist commitment to a just and sustainable peace for all the people of the Middle East.
If you would like more information I would suggest that you go to the Kairos Response website for articles, etc. www.kairosresponse.org

I know that you would support investment decisions that reinforce our commitment to a just and sustainable peace for all the people of the Middle East.

Therefore I would urge you to sign the Resolution so that we can say to the United Methodist General Conference that a community of people of faith is behind the divestment of companies from the United Methodist Pension Fund if they profit from the oppression of Palestinians.
If you would send me an email when you have signed the resolution and the petition I would be grateful.  You can do this easily do this by just hitting the reply button.  Thanks for reading this email and responding.

The Rev. Dr. DarEll T. Weist

The link for the Resolution is <https://www.kairosresponse.org/The_Resolution.html>

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