By Zachary Guiliano
The House of Bishops rejected a resolution Thursday morning that would commit them to putting economic pressure on Israel.
Resolution C003 (Work for Justice and Peace in Israel-Palestine) “deplores and laments that Israel’s Occupation of 4.4 million Palestinians … undermines Israel’s credibility in the eyes of the international community.”
The resolution would call on the Episcopal Church’s “money managers” and “church investors, including the Church Pension Fund” to divest from any companies that help build infrastructure in occupied zones.
The chair of the Committee on Social Justice and International Policy, Bishop Prince Singh of Rochester, recommended that the House of Bishops concur with the resolution.
The bishops’ deliberation on this matter was at times heated.
Bishop Catherine Waynick of Indianapolis spoke against the resolution first. She said that she recently visited Israel “as part of a group called Interfaith Partners for Peace.”
“We heard from a number of Israeli groups containing both Jews and Palestinians,” she said. “The Palestinians in those groups assured us that this divestment from Israel is not particularly what they are seeking. They don’t think it is a good idea.”
She warned against “unwittingly causing more problems.”
Bishop Edward Little of Northern Indiana noted that the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, has frequently said that divestment is not helpful to Palestinians in the area. He also mentioned the House had “already passed superb resolutions” on the topic, referring to A052 (Call for Ubuntu within the Episcopal Church Regarding Policy Toward Palestine and Israel). This resolution commits the Episcopal Church to dialogue and to discerning new policies toward Israel and Palestine.
Barry Howe, retired Bishop of West Missouri and assisting in Southwest Florida, said the resolution was fruitless. “We have no investments in any of the corporations that are mentioned by other groups as being particularly those that are affecting settlement,” he said.
Leopold Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida and a Cuban-American, recommended a different approach: “My experience with boycotts and embargoes is that they hurt the very people we think we’re helping. Palestinian businesses need investment.”
The bishops of California, Rhode Island, Southern Ohio, and Central Florida, among others, also rose in opposition.
The House voted almost unanimously against the issue.
Jordan Hylden contributed reporting to this piece.