2016 UMC General Conference


May 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton: BDS Is “Not the Path to Peace”

Some anti-Israel activists in the United Methodist Church (UMC) are so radical, even Hillary Clinton felt compelled to vocally criticize their efforts on the eve of General Conference. On May 9, Clinton said that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel was “not the path to peace” in a letter to the heads of the Jewish Federations of North America.

“I believe that BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict,” Clinton wrote.

She continued that peace could “only be achieved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians; it cannot be imposed from the outside or by unilateral actions.” She concluded that that the BDS movement was “counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Although she never directly mentioned the UMC, Clinton is a life-long Methodist and the timing of the letter could not send a clearer message. The UMC’s General Conference began meeting today (May 10), and one issue which delegates will debate includes divestment. Proposed measures would target companies that are supposedly “profiting from the Israeli occupation.”

It speaks to how radical the BDS movement has become that Clinton felt the need to publicly oppose it. Indeed, the campaign has developed a shrill and alarming tenor.

“The BDS movement within and beyond the UMC has been extremely callous in its willingness to resort to anti-Semitic rhetoric and completely dismiss concerns about victims of anti-Israel terrorism,” guest blogger Katy Kiser wrote in a post for Juicy Ecumenism in September.

John Lomperis, UMAction director at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, testified last November before the UMC’s General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits when it was considering divestment. He said that divestment was the “wrong solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it “misrepresents the basic problem.” He explained that the BDS movement mischaracterized Israel’s actions as part of a colonial occupation of Palestine rather than an attempt to secure the Israeli homeland.

In January, the Pension Board divested from five Israeli banks. It lumped Israel with the “worst of the worst” human rights violators like Iran, North Korea, and China.

As shocking as this move was, proposals at General Conference go even further. Resolutions target companies as diverse as Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard.

[RNS national reporter Emily McFarlan Miller included the entirety of Clinton’s letter in her March 9 article. You can read it here.]

2 Responses to Hillary Clinton: BDS Is “Not the Path to Peace”

  1. Alan Hoffman says:

    Putting Israel on a “list” with North Korea and China raises the question: Which Chinese companies and products are on that list to be boycotted (North Korea does not produce anything; very little is imported from Iran)? Last time I looked, almost every small appliance, sundries, low end clothes lines, and various household goods are made in China. China has occupied and abused Tibet for decades (much less crackdowns on Christians). But for some strange reason, these churches ignored that fact, but only Israel seems to animate them to boycott action. Supporting BDS, which officially declares itself for the elimination of Israel as a nation (alone among all nations and ignoring the consequences for that), is not only about boycotting companies – its about tacitly condoning the elimination of Jews, and certainly any right to self-determination..
    As a Jew, I can ONLY suspect this highly selective church outrage has something to do with Jews (Israel is a Jewish nation). I would be illiterate and willfully negligent if I did not connect that to the obvious 2,000 years of Christian contempt for Jews. I would be naïve if I would assume that a church (much less most Christians) have given up that long tradition and ingrained bias over so long a time are somehow truly neutral or positive on anything Jewish.

    • AndrewDowling says:

      If you enjoy your negative stereotypes, you can keep your negative stereotypes.

      Holding grudges over things that happened centuries ago is not what healthy-minded people do.

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