Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Positive investment versus divestment: making peace

The Christian Century has an excellent article about positive investment in the Palestinian society. The article is “Investment, not divestment: How to help the Palestinians” and is written by Thomas A. Prinz and Karl-John N. Stone. The article begins with questions:

Many U.S. denominations have partner churches in the Holy Land. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for example, has a strong commitment to “accompany” the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

Given the relationship that many American churches and American Chris¬tians have with Palestinian Christians, the challenge is how to properly engage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Should we take sides in the conflict by echoing the narrative of our suffering Palestinian brothers and sisters? Or does being faithful to the gospel call us to include Israeli suffering in the breadth of our concern? How do we acknowledge the complexity of the conflict and help Palestinians and Israelis move toward the day when they live at peace as neighbors?
One of the helpful thoughts in this article is:
Encouraging economic investment in Palestine is a positive, potentially transformative strategy, and it is to be preferred to the punitive options of encouraging divestment and boycotts of Israel or of companies doing business with Israel. Boycott and divestment are focused on tearing down and punishing one side in a complex conflict rather than on promoting constructive solutions to the conflict and improving lives.

The notion that divestment from Israel will somehow make peace and a two-state solution more likely is based on the misconception that one side bears all the blame and that the actions of one side alone control the future of negotiations. Furthermore, divestment campaigns make peace and a negotiated solution less likely, for they tend to increase Israelis’ sense of fear and isolation and thus decrease the likelihood of their being willing to take the risk inherent in any peace agreement. If “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), then increasing fear and isolation is not a proper Christian response to conflict.
Prinz and Stone go on to give a multitude of examples of positive investment already happening in Palestine. As I stated this is an excellent article with very practical applications and examples. It is really too bad that one of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s organizations, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, has chosen to deride the writers attempts at help and peacemaking with their article, “IPMN Responds to Christian Century on "Positive Investment"


Anonymous said...

This discussion reminds me that groups like the IPMN (and Hamas apologists like James Wall) are not really interested in helping Palestinian Arabs, but rather in undermining Israel.

I am glad that the Christian Century, the flagship publication for many moderate-to-liberal Protestants, ran this article. No wonder James Wall is no longer employed there.

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Anonymous said...

There's no way this would have run if Wall were still there. His hatred of Israel knows no bounds that I've been able to discover.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA