The World Council of Churches this week voted to urge its members across the globe to divest from Israel to protest the Jewish state’s treatment of Palestinians.
The action took Jewish communal leaders by surprise, much like the divestment vote last July by the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Presbyterian vote jump-started an international bandwagon of anti-Israel church divestment actions.
The Geneva-based council invoked religious language in urging 347 member denominations to put economic pressure on Israel. The resolution, approved February 21 by the council’s 150-person central committee, is not binding.
The council, which represents the world’s mainline Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches, praised the Presbyterian decision to launch a “phased selective divestment” plan, which could begin in 2006. The Presbyterian Church is a major funder of the council.
Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, director of interfaith affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, told the Forward that the vote is significant in that many independent American churches look to the council for guidance on international issues.
The vote is particularly disturbing coming on the heels of a constructive Israel-Palestinian peace summit, said American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris.