Methodist Church Rejects Israel Divestment Resolutions
Raoul Wootliff Brandeis Blog, Avivah Vogelstein
May 18, 2016


The United Methodist Church took a stand this weekend against the anti-Israel and arguably anti-Semitic Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. At their quadrennial 10-day policy making conference, beginning May 10, the church rejected four resolutions that sought to sanction Israel and companies that do business with Israel.

These four resolutions were brought by the United Methodist Kairos Response, an anti-Israel group within the church that claims to be “[a]nswering the urgent call from Palestinian Christians.” Actually, Kairos is pushing an anti-dialogue agenda that uses “human rights language to camouflage the real goal of bashing and isolating Israel,” according to “Kairos makes no mention of any Palestinian responsibility for the situation, and most importantly, ignores the fact that the only workable path toward a sustainable peace is direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, leading to a two-state solution.”

Interestingly, the vote came after a May 9th letter from lifelong Methodist and presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, which stated her opposition to the BDS movement as it seeks to punish Israel and is counterproductive to peace efforts.

Bigotry is at the core of the BDS movement and contributes to much anti-Semitism in this country, particularly on college campuses. A recent AMCHA Initiative report found that BDS was a major factor in students’ reported experiences of anti-Jewish hostility on college campuses nationwide. To combat this bigotry, over half a dozen states have passed anti-BDS bills to date, and at least 10 others are gearing up to do the same.

The Brandeis Center has been combating this hate-filled movement through legal action, and in April, filed a lawsuit on behalf of four professors against the American Studies Association (ASA) for its unlawful boycott of Israel, in violation of Washington, D.C law governing nonprofit organizations.

The United Methodist Church’s decision to strike down these four anti-Israel BDS resolutions will hopefully signal other religious denominations and academic associations to do the same.

If you are concerned about anti-Semitism on your campus, or if you seek advice about best practices, contact us.

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Over 50% of Jewish American college students report that they experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” Campus anti-Semitism can include subjecting Jewish students to different treatment, harassment, violence or a hostile environment. In some cases, campus anti-Semitism is related to anti-Israel sentiment. In other cases, it is not. For most purposes, we define anti-Semitism according to the U.S. Department of State definition of anti-Semitism. .
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Advisory Board Spotlight

Dina Porat
Dina Porat, a Tel Aviv University professor of Jewish History, served as head of the Department of Jewish History, the Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies, and the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism.
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