The Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church just voted to divest all holdings in three international corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation. The press release announcing the action says, “this action is in response to a plea by Palestinian Christians for action, not just words.”
The conference is divesting from Caterpillar, General Electric and Terex. These companies are among 20 targeted by many UMC conferences across the country because they (1) have a presence on occupied land, (2) are involved with the physical settlements, checkpoints and the separation wall, or (3) support activities of the Israeli military in the occupied territories. The full list of 20 targeted corporations was compiled by the New England Conference Divestment Task Force. In addition to divesting, the conference is also sending the full list of companies to the nearly 400 local churches in Northern Illinois to encourage them to consider divesting from any of the corporations on the list.
Connie Baker, a leader in the effort to divest, put the vote in perspective, “We are resolute in our support of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land and the rights of each to co-exist according to the principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions. It is a small step, but an important one.”