Morally responsible investment in Israel-Palestine
08 June 2006
Letter to Rev. Dr Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk, General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church, USA, 8 June, 2006
We write on behalf of member churches around the world to the Presbyterian
Church (USA) on the occasion of your 217th General Assembly in Birmingham,
Alabama. We are with you in spirit and in prayer as you deliberate at this important
time. We note that there are broadly ecumenical issues to be addressed. We
pray for your church and each congregation as, within the fellowship, you seek
peace, unity and purity of the church enriched by its diversity and, beyond the
church, seek consensus in responding to poverty and economic justice, also in
its global setting. And we stand ready to provide whatever help we can in fulfilling
your calling as healing and reconciling communities in the service of
Sisters and brothers in Christ overseas know of your church in different ways
including its service to people suffering from injustice. Justice and peace in the
Middle East will also come before you once again. Many share this concern. After
decades of patient words about peace in that region, Presbyterians are showing
leadership in deeds for peace there as well.
Churches and people of other faiths who share the commitment to a just peace
take courage from your practice of morally responsible investment in Israel-
Palestine as part of your engagement for peace in the Middle East. It is a substantive
incentive for an equitable resolution of the conflict. It is a timely warning
that Israeli and Palestinian hopes will not be met through more oppression, or
by one side imposing its choice of borders on the other. Exercising responsibility
through investments is not new for your church, but with it you are giving
new hope to others.
News of your courage is especially welcome in the Middle East. Because of
what you have done, people there have realized that Christians are called to seek
peace. Such acts of discipleship are a much-needed witness from churches in the
West to that part of the world today.
In similar spirit, the WCC Executive Committee in May called member churches
to "share solidarity with people on both sides of the conflict as a witness for
peace". The committee recommended concrete actions to fulfill long-standing
policies, including legitimate forms of pressure to promote a just peace and to
end unlawful activities by Israelis or Palestinians.
We pray that those who challenge carefully chosen policies for peace will be
moved to re-examine the recent grave developments on the ground in the context
of long-term trends in the conflict. "Failure to comply with international
law and consequences thereof has pushed the situation on the ground up to a point
of no return. The disparities [between the two sides] are appalling," our Executive
Committee also stated.
Outside the US your actions are seen in their national setting. As US churches
take stands against the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza
(still the responsibility of the occupying power under the time-tested terms of
the Geneva Convention) you open a window for your government to see a different,
non-violent approach to the region. Your even-handed approach is a much-
needed reminder to the US administration of its particular responsibility "to help
Israel find lasting security within secure and recognized borders and under the
rule of law", as we noted in a recent letter to the US Secretary of State.
This is a time for all concerned about the occupation to address those involved
in it. We are reminded of Jeremiah's words in another day of need and commend
them to the ecumenical community now: "They have treated the wound of my
people carelessly, saying, Peace, peace,' when there is no peace" (6:14).
May now be a time when more and more churches take the risk of giving themselves
for others and for peace. We pray for God's grace and guidance in your
church for the days ahead.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia