July 6, 2005
Washington, D.C. – In the closing session of the United Church of Christ (UCC) 25th General Synod (taking place July 1-5 in Atlanta), delegates overwhelmingly passed a strongly worded resolution concerning Israel and Middle East issues. The UCC’s Web site calls for Israel to “tear down the wall.” While B’nai B’rith had been encouraged by an early UCC statement on divestment, the change in language, tone, and approach evidenced in the final resolutions and on the UCC’s own Web site are troubling and a cause for concern.
Though initially reported to have rejected sanctions against businesses operating in Israel, the UCC in fact urged its members to advance their perspectives on sensitive Middle East disputes by using “economic leverage,” including “divesting from those companies that… gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the occupation.” In a separate resolution, the Synod called for the destruction of Israel’s security fence, which has proved exceptionally effective in saving civilian lives from Palestinian terrorist attacks.
“Although the Synod recognized Israel’s right to protect itself, and affirmed a two-state solution, it unfairly places sole responsibility on Israel to bring about peace and does not make similar demands on the Palestinian side,” said Joel S. Kaplan, president of B’nai B’rith International. “It is imperative and far more productive for the UCC and other religious organizations to give the peace process a chance to succeed, especially in light of Israel’s forthcoming disengagement from Gaza. Simply put, the UCC’s actions are irresponsible and intellectually dishonest.”
With members in more than 50 countries, B’nai B’rith International is a global leader in the areas of international affairs, senior services, and Jewish identity. As the oldest and most widely known and respected Jewish organization, B’nai B’rith advocates for Jewish unity, security, and continuity worldwide.