How do we work for just peace? It’s in important question in a world where some seek to secure peace through violence. As people of faith, we believe there is another way, and one important tool in this work has always been economic leverage, or our right to manage our finances as an extension of our faith.
That right is under attack in the U.S. Congress right now.
The US Congress is considering two parallel bills, both known as the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” in the Senate and House of Representatives (S.720 & H.R. 1697, respectively). These bills, which have bipartisan support in both chambers, could make supporting some boycott actions targeting Israel or Israeli settlements a felony punishable by up to a $1 million fine and 20 years in prison.
The United Church of Christ has long supported an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, and has endorsed the use of economic measures, including boycotts, divestment, and sanctions, to bring about a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The UCC has also employed such tactics to support justice in the US and globally in other cases.
These bills restrict institutions’ and individuals’ Constitutional right of free speech to use this non-violent means by prohibiting the furnishing or requesting of information about companies’ practices in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. According to the ACLU, the bill would “impose civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs about Israel and its policies.” Such a restriction is a “direct violation of the First Amendment.”
Please act now to assert the right to free use of economic measures, as free speech, to support justice and peace for Palestinians and Israelis. Urge your members of Congress to oppose S.720 or H.R. 1697 and be sure to raise this issue if you see them at town hall meetings during their recess!
- Ecumenical statement: “Employing Economic Measures as Non-violent Tools for Justice in the Israeli-Palestinian Context”
UCC General Synod Policy: