In a few weeks, the United Methodist Church will make a crucial vote on whether to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. A few months later, the Presbyterian Church-USA will vote on the same issue as well.
These churches, and the people of faith behind these initiatives, are already being viciously attacked for saying what many of us have been saying all along: that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must go and that the Israeli occupation must end because a true foundation for peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be based on justice and equality for all.They are taking a stand, with their own resources fueled by their faith—and so must we.
That is why a number of rabbis from Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical Council got together and wrote an open letter—and we even made a video—expressing our support for these churches. Please take a moment to watch it!
We believe that investing in a companies that profit from the Israeli occupation furthers injustice, reduces the chances for peace, and is contrary to the Jewish values we hold dear. We take on the challenges raised by the churches’ initiatives to stand up for those core values.
This is what I have learned about the companies the churches are addressing with their proposed actions:
Caterpillar profits from the destruction of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of Palestinian orchards by supplying the armor-plated and weaponized bulldozers that are used for such demolition work. Destroying homes is not a Jewish value.
Motorola Solutions profits from many aspects of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including developing perimeter surveillance systems installed around dozens of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, built on Palestinian land. Defending stolen property is not a Jewish value.
Hewlett-Packard provides ongoing support and maintenance to a biometric ID system installed in Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank which deprive Palestinians of the freedom of movement in their own land and allows the Israeli military occupation to grant or deny special privileges to the civilians under its control. Discrimination is not a Jewish value.
The Jewish values we hold dear will be in evidence tomorrow, as we sit down at the Passover Seder table and recount our story of slavery and deliverance. We will remember our bondage, an experience we do not wish upon ourselves or others. We believe in freedom/herut for all. And we stand together with others who share the same belief. We hope you will too.