Huffington Post: Why I Work With Christians to Divest
JVP's Director of Campaigns on working together for justice
Rabbi Alissa Wise: Why I work with Christians to Divest from Israel, Huffington Post (7/23/12)
At first glance, my work as a rabbi may look untraditional. Instead of serving a congregation, I do my rabbinic work by organizing for justice and equality for all the people of Israel and Palestine. This work includes supporting the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s efforts in Pittsburgh this past week to pass an overture calling for selective divestment from companies that profit from human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
As a spiritual leader, I feel blessed that this work allows me to engage with my Christian counterparts in deep and transformative ways.
My work alongside Christians is one way I live my commitment to interrupting today's violence and hatred. I no longer believe Jews are inevitably alone in the world, but in fact quite the opposite. I now see just how much we are there for each other, as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu reminds us in speaking of the effort to end apartheid in South Africa: "We could not have won our freedom in South Africa without the solidarity of people around the world who adopted non-violent methods to pressure governments and corporations to end their support for the apartheid regime."
We together, Christians and Jews, are speaking out against injustice when we see it -- as our faith demands of us. That is what happened in Pittsburgh this past week.
I have never been so hopeful for the future of Israelis and Palestinians as I am after witnessing the strong show of opposition to the Israeli Occupation earlier this month by the Presbyterian Church (USA). The PC(USA) General Assembly passed a resolution to boycott settlement goods with 71 percent of the vote, while divestment from companies that profit from the Israeli Occupation was defeated by a razor thin margin of two votes.
While the call for divestment was not fully heard due to parliamentary maneuvers, it has never been so incredibly close. Unfortunately, the futility of the approved "positive investment" overture was not clear to the commissioners, who failed to see that until the infrastructure of occupation is dismantled, "positive investment" is just painting rubble with a fresh coat of paint. During the push for divestment from South Africa did anyone believe investing in banstutans would work to end apartheid?
We will be held accountable should we stay silent as the land theft, home demolitions, restrictions on movement, economic strangulation and other human rights abuses that are the daily realities of life under occupation for Palestinians continue. Instead, we will together continue to highlight the wrongdoings of specific corporations profiting from human rights abuses and urge them to cease their activities so that "positive investment" in Palestine can actually bear fruit.