Magazine article Tikkun

Methodists Divesting

Magazine article Tikkun

Methodists Divesting

Article excerpt

I BELIEVE DENOMINATIONS SUCH AS THE ONE I BELONG TO, THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, are Israel's best friends-but we are not its uncritical friends. We fervently desire a safe and secure Israel and believe the best way to achieve this is for Israel to stand beside a safe, secure, viable, and contiguous Palestine.

We do not subscribe to the notion that the establishment of the state of Israelis a precursor to the "end times." Those who misinterpret scripture and adhere to the renegade teachings ofJohnNelson Darby have strayed from Christianity.

At times I have been asked why United Methodists have an "excessive" level of concern with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Why, for example, are we not giving Myanmar (Burma) or Guatemala or Indonesia similar scrutiny? The implication is that our seemingly undue level of interest must be connected to overt or latent anti-Israel sentiment

Frankly, United Methodists do have inordinate interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it takes place in the Holy Land.

UnitedMethodists are deeply concerned forthe plight of Christians living there today. Because of their witness and missionary work we are Christians today. They are not Christians because of our proselytizing. Thus the disappearance of the Christian population from the Holy Land is of grave concern to us.

Oftimes, we are told Christians are leaving the Holy Land because of persecution from Muslims. That is a serious charge, so we check with our Christian partners-the ancient Christian churches as well as the Baptists, Anglicans, Lutherans, and others. Repeatedly, they tell us the overwhelming reason for the exodus of Christians is due to the harsh Israeli Occupation and the impossibility oflrving a normal life.

Christians are an integral part of the tapestry of the Holy Land. Removing them is like trying to take a thread from the tapestry. It can't be done without the whole thing unraveling. Christians represent a bridge between Jews and Muslims. Our people are simultaneously part of the Judeo-Christian heritage as well as part of the Arab population. Their presence and importance has not been sufficiently utilized.

Tens of thousands of United Methodists have participated in journeys to the Holy Land. Usually, these are apolitical tours led by guides licensed by the Israeli government Christians want to walk where Jesus walked and better understand the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament But, they can see for themselves the conditions under which Palestinians live and the obvious inequality between Jews and Arabs, and this eyewitness observation raises the consciousness of our people. …

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