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United Church of Canada joined Presbyterians and others in retreating from the once fashionable divestment panacea. Most interestingly, the United Church of Canada resolutions seem to have turned the boycott Israel campaign back against its initiators. The main idea of people like Jeff Halpern and groups like Sabeel was to use the boycott campaign to turn Israel into a pariah and delegitimize Zionism, but the new resolutions explicitly call for boycotting those who do so.

A revised resolution called for "ethically responsible businesses" which contribute to "peace and a secure and economically viable Palestinian state alongside a secure and economically viable State of Israel."

So, "is it good for Israel" or "bad for Israel?" The critical proviso is the ban on:


providing products, services, or technology to any government or organization that refuses to recognize the legitimate rights of the State of Israel, including its right to exist as a Jewish state


The intention of the divestment and boycott strategies, the whole point as their initiators conceived them, was to mount a campaign against the legitimacy of Israel, and to turn Israel into a second South Africa. The above proviso turns their own weapon against them, and takes the UC Canada squarely out of the camp of boycotters. It demonstrates that the moral strategy, which recognizes two states for two peoples, is the best way to counter campaigns for delegitimizing Israel. At least among Church groups, it pays to be on the side of the angels. Of course, it would be nice if the church recognized that blowing people up is less moral than separating them with a security fence, but we can't have everything.

What is missing, is a proviso that bans cooperation with groups that refuse to recognize the legitimate rights of the State of Israel, such as the Sabeel group, a prime initiator of boycotts and divestment, and, of course, Hamas and Hezbollah.

The resolutions are still not balanced. Funny thing, I didn't hear about any Church resolutions against investing in British companies that supply night-vision equipment to Iran (found in Hezbollah fortifications) or French companies that supply anti-tank rockets, or companies that do business with the genocidal regime in Darfur, or companies that sustain or support the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

The church press release (I can't find the resolutions themselves at their Web site) states:


In a resolution that was passed last evening, the delegates agreed to invite the membership, congregations, and organizations of The United Church of Canada to


continue to work with the Jewish and Arab communities to promote peace and understanding and the end of hostilities in the Middle East

continue to denounce acts of violence perpetrated against persons on all sides of the conflict
adopt a pro-investment strategy with companies that engage in ethically responsible business, and that

contribute to peace and a secure and economically viable Palestinian state alongside a secure and economically viable State of Israel

make financial investments, as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, with Canadian and international corporations and companies that are engaged only in peaceful pursuits in the region


Non-peaceful pursuits would include


providing products, services, or financial support to groups that engage in violence against Palestinian or Israeli persons

providing products, services, or technology to any government or organization that refuses to recognize the legitimate rights of the State of Israel, including its right to exist as a Jewish state

providing products, services, or technology that sustain, support, or maintain the occupation
having established facilities or operations on occupied land

providing products, services, or financial support for the establishment, expansion, and/or maintenance of settlements on occupied land or settlement-related infrastructure

providing finances or assisting in the construction and/or maintenance of the separation barrier within occupied territories




Ami Isseroff

News Release
United Church Adopts a Pro-Peace Investment Strategy for the Middle East

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thunder Bay: Meeting in Thunder Bay, Ontario, August 13-19, 2006, the 39th General Council of The United Church of Canada has adopted a pro-peace investment strategy that delegates hope will contribute to the realization of a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

Additionally, Canadaís largest Protestant denomination has committed itself to developing the means of raising one million dollars to support projects, initiatives, and groups of any faith working for peace in Palestine and Israel.

In a resolution that was passed last evening, the delegates agreed to invite the membership, congregations, and organizations of The United Church of Canada to


continue to work with the Jewish and Arab communities to promote peace and understanding and the end of hostilities in the Middle East

continue to denounce acts of violence perpetrated against persons on all sides of the conflict
adopt a pro-investment strategy with companies that engage in ethically responsible business, and that

contribute to peace and a secure and economically viable Palestinian state alongside a secure and economically viable State of Israel

make financial investments, as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, with Canadian and international corporations and companies that are engaged only in peaceful pursuits in the region


Non-peaceful pursuits would include


providing products, services, or financial support to groups that engage in violence against Palestinian or Israeli persons

providing products, services, or technology to any government or organization that refuses to recognize the legitimate rights of the State of Israel, including its right to exist as a Jewish state

providing products, services, or technology that sustain, support, or maintain the occupation
having established facilities or operations on occupied land

providing products, services, or financial support for the establishment, expansion, and/or maintenance of settlements on occupied land or settlement-related infrastructure

providing finances or assisting in the construction and/or maintenance of the separation barrier within occupied territories


For further information, please contact:
Mary-Frances Denis
Communications Officer
The United Church of Canada
T: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016




Canadian church group drops anti-Israel divestment program
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER


Jewish groups are cautiously welcoming a decision by the United Church of Canada to drop an overt program of divestment in Israel in favor of "a pro-peace investment strategy for the Middle East" that aims for "a just peace in Palestine and Israel."

The UCC, Canada's largest Protestant denomination with close to three million adherents, on Thursday passed a resolution calling for investments in "ethically responsible businesses" which contribute to "peace and a secure and economically viable Palestinian state alongside a secure and economically viable State of Israel."

An earlier plan unveiled by the UCC would have meant a boycott of goods made over the Green Line and divestment from companies "related to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories."

The revised proposal - approved following a lengthy meeting - rejects dealings with "non-peaceful pursuits," which include businesses "that refuse to recognize the legitimate rights of the States of Israel, including its right to exist as a Jewish state." But it also includes those who provide "products, services or technology that sustain, support or maintain the occupation," have "established facilities or operations on occupied land" or give financial and other assistance to erecting "the separation barrier within occupied territories."

B'nai Brith expressed guarded satisfaction that the resolution had been amended.

"This latest move by the church to opt out of a divestment from Israel campaign represents an important and positive step forward in recognizing Israel's absolute right to exist and, seemingly by extension, its right to defend its citizens against terrorism," said Frank Dimant, executive vice president of B'nai Brith Canada.

But he added, "The mere fact that an anti-Israel boycott was ever proposed betrays the church's entrenched negative attitudes towards the Jewish state."

Canadian Jewish Congress National Executive Vice President Manuel Prutschi told the National Post that the approved motion was "more balanced."

He also praised a church decision to raise $1 million to support "projects, initiatives and groups of any faith working for peace in Palestine and Israel."

Organizations such as the CJC lobbied against divestment, and a dozen rabbis wrote to the UCC with their concerns.

Some UCC officials, however, indicated that the motion still conformed to the original goals even if it used different language.

"Divestment has a great deal of association to it. But the intention of the motion is still somewhat similar," Bruce Gregerson, a member of the church's senior leadership team, told the National Post. "The church is now requesting or encouraging its members, its constituents, its ministries and congregations to only invest in companies and corporations that support peace and justice in the Middle East."


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