In response to requests from Palestinian and Israeli partners, and seeking to faithfully live out the biblical call to justice, The United Church of Canada has spoken out and taken action to promote a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The Unsettling Goods campaign calls on United Church people and others to avoid any and all products produced in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. Our 42nd General Council (2015) called on the United Church to develop and implement an ethical divestment strategy from companies that derive substantial financial benefit or that contribute significantly to furthering the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
The United Church is part of a growing number of churches around the world who have taken similar actions.
The World Council of Churches (WCC, a fellowship of 348 member churches worldwide) called for a boycott of products originating in the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories in 2001. The WCC has also encouraged its member churches to “use legitimate forms of pressure to promote a just peace and to end unlawful activities by Israelis or Palestinians.”
In 2012, the United Methodist Church called on all nations to “prohibit…the import of products made by companies in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”
The Anglican Communion’s Consultative Council urges Anglican churches to take appropriate action if they have investments in companies whose activities contribute to the occupation of Palestinian land or to violence against innocent Israelis.
The Mennonite Church Canada’s 2016 Assembly voted in favour of a resolution seeking non-violent solutions to injustices in Israel-Palestine. This included a commitment to avoid economic investment that supports settlements on Palestinian lands and the Israeli Defense Forces.
The Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) encourages Canadian Friends to “boycott products of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including those wrongly labelled as ‘made in Israel.’ “
In 2016, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted to implement an investment screen restricting church investments in corporations that profit from human rights abuses (including those against Palestinians) and to call for an end to US aid to Israel until there is a freeze on settlement construction in occupied Palestine.
The United Church of Christ (a sister denomination of The United Church of Canada) called for divestment from and boycott of companies that are complicit in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza at its General Synod in 2015.
The Presbyterian Church USA voted to boycott “all products made by enterprises in Israeli settlements on [occupied] Palestinian land” at its General Assembly in 2012.
The American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) has urged divestment from companies and corporations that benefit from the occupation and conflict in Palestine and Israel since 2012 with its We Divest campaign.
The British Methodist Church voted to boycott Israeli settlement products in 2010, the first major Christian denomination in Britain to do so.
In Britain, Quakers UK voted in 2011 to boycott all products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian community headquartered in Scotland, declared its support in 2016 for the demands of the BDS movement, including an end to the military occupation of the West Bank and the abolition of laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
In 2010, the National Council of Churches in Australia voted to ask all of its member churches to consider a boycott of Israeli settlement products.
During its 2015 national assembly, Uniting Churches in Australia’s president Stuart McMillan said the church encourages “members to be informed and to consider personally boycotting” goods produced “within the occupied territories” in Palestine and Israel.