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Bizarre: Methodist Lobby Office Urges Anti-Israel Divestment Against Caterpillar Tractor

"How bizarre that the United Methodist lobby office is urging anti-Israel divestment against Caterpillar Tractor when other church groups are moving in the opposite direction. Even if anti-Israel divestment were a constructive idea, which it's not, why jump on a stalled band wagon?" -- Mark Tooley, Executive Director UMAction


Contact: Loralei Coyle, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, jwalton@ird-renew.org; both with the Institute on Religion and Democracy


WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 /Christian Newswire/ -- The 7.9 million member United Methodist Church's official lobby office is urging church agencies and members to divest their holdings in Caterpillar, Inc because it sells bull dozers to Israel. The resolution, sponsored by United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, accused Peoria-based Caterpillar of facilitating Israel's destruction of Palestinian property.


The resolution will go before the United Methodist General Conference in April 2008. The United Methodist Church's pension agency reportedly has $5 million in Caterpillar stock out of $15 billion in assets. Similar anti-Israel divestment actions have been rejected by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Church of England, among others.


IRD Director of UMAction Mark Tooley commented:


"How bizarre that the United Methodist Board of Church and Society now is jumping aboard a long-stalled bandwagon by endorsing anti-Israel divestment against Caterpillar, when other churches are moving in the opposite direction. And does anyone really think that punishing Caterpillar will help create a peace in the Middle East?


"Like other Religious Left agencies, the United Methodist lobby office thinks that U.S. pressure against Israel is the magic key for a peace settlement. The truth is more complicated, and Israel is not the exclusive obstacle to Middle East peace.


"Perhaps the United Methodist Board of Church and Society should examine a 2006 resolution approved by United Methodism's Pacific Northwest Conference. It noted that "some church groups have selectively advocated divestment of firms doing business with Israel while ignoring severe human rights abuses by the governments of Israel's neighbors," affirmed the Jewish state as ""nearly the only long-standing democracy among its neighbors in the Middle East," and declared that "selective attention to Israel's mistakes will not create peace in the Middle East."