The United Methodist Church Declares will not Invest in Israeli Banks

According to the United Methodist Church website it “is a 12.3-million-strong global church that opens hearts, opens minds and open doors through active engagement with our world.” Now we must ask the questions, how open is the church to Israel?

In the complete opposite spirit of the stance of Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, the United Methodist Church, another Protestant denomination in the US has declared that its pension board will not be investing in Israeli banks. The announcement was made on the 12th of January to show their support of the Palestinian BDS movement who are against the financing of any Jewish Israeli building that happens beyond the 1967 Armistice Line.

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement believe that their campaign of targeting Israel’s economy while rallying international support will punish Israel for their alleged human rights violations in allowing Jews to live in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Israel says that the BDS supporters are not nearly as interested in the well-being of Palestinians as they are in destroying Israel by economic strangulation.

The banks potentially affected by the United Methodist Church sanctions are Hapoalim, Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot even though at this time the church is only invested in Banks Hapoalim and Leumi respectively.

There has been no comment from the representatives of the Banks nor the Association of Banks in Israel who have not said anything regarding the implications and at this stage it is not clear that sanctions are negatively affecting Israel’s economy.

There are many questions regarding motivations behind such decisions to disinvest in from particular Israeli sectors or companies. The United Methodist Church statement does not mention what will be done with the funds investments in several other Israeli companies, such as Teva, Checkpoint, Nice, Israel Chemicals, Israel Corp., Cellcom and Wix. What are they trying to accomplish by boycotting 5 Israeli banks?

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