United Church of Christ votes in favor of Israel boycott, divestment

Delegates at the United Church of Christ’s national meeting in Cleveland voted 504-124 today to boycott and divest from companies that “profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands,” according to a press release from the church’s Palestine-Israel Network. There were also 38 abstentions.

The vote came after months of headlines about student-run Israel divestment resolutions on university campuses, particularly in California.

The United Church of Christ, a mainline U.S. Protestant denomination, has a long history of activism in the United States, and was a leading advocate for African American civil rights in the 1960s.

In another vote this week, the church passed a resolution calling for the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their name, announcing that it has asked its nearly 1 million members (at more than 5,000 congregations nationwide) to boycott Redskins’ games and merchandise until the name is dropped. The resolution also calls attention to Chief Wahoo, the logo of baseball’s Cleveland Indians, which the church believes is a demeaning depiction of Native Americans.

The church’s engagement with the Israeli and Palestinian conflict first came up at its national meeting in Atlanta in 2005; Tuesday’s vote came on the heels of similar votes by the U.S. Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church, the Huffington Post reported.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Israel Action Network issued a  statement in response to what it termed a “deeply skewed” resolution.