The United Church of Canada passed a resolution Tuesday during its 42nd General Council encouraging divestment from Israel in order “to address the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by the State of Israel.”
The new resolution called for “initiating and developing a program of education and advocacy in cooperation with our partners, related to divestment from and economic sanctions against all corporations and institutions complicit in and benefiting from the illegal occupation,” according to the UCC 42nd General Council website.
The UCC is Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, with more than two million members. In 2012, the organization passed a resolution boycotting settlement-produced goods.
The statement also urged members to discourage “tourism which bolsters the oppression of Palestinians.”
The new decision was meant to be understood as focusing on “advocacy and encouragement, rather than a mandatory or binding direction to the church.”
Not all UCC members, however, were in favor of the resolution.
Rev. Andrew Love, the founder of Bridges Not Boycotts, a group that opposes anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) policies in liberal Protestant churches, said, “The ugly face of anti-Semitism has found a warm embrace in the BDS campaign against Israel.”
“Now the United Church has added a divestment strategy to its boycott campaign. It is targeting Israel for attack; yet, it still thinks it can be in genuine dialogue with the Jewish community in Canada,” added Love.
The anti-BDS organization noted in a press release that UCC had also approved a policy to strengthen the relationship with Canada’s Jewish community, which the organization saw as being in “obvious contradiction” with the divestment policy.