The Israeli-Palestinian Issue as seen by the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA

The Greater Milwaukee Synod (GMS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) held its convention recently and passed Resolution 4, a Resolution for the Holy Land through Responsible Investment as it was titled.  This resolution follows the past positions of the ELCA and the GMS on the middle east, and more specifically concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  Resolution 4 calls for the Synod to divest funds from companies that are ‘complicit’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it exists today.  The companies in which pension investments would be pulled are Caterpillar, HP Inc., Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Motorola Solutions, and G4S.

This is a symbolic protest of the continued conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians. That is all well and good if that is your belief except for the fact that it seems to ignore the realities that exist in that region.  The resolution focuses the blame for this ongoing conflict solely on the Israelis and it uses private companies as the tool to make a social statement which, frankly, falls on deaf ears.  It ignores the reality that exists.  The Israelis are under constant threat of attack by the Palestinians.   It is not the Israelis that go into Palestinian territory with bombs under their garments.  It is not the Israelis that fire missiles into the Palestinian Territory.  It is not the Israelis that strap bombs on their bodies and explode them in Palestinian marketplaces.

To use a phrase that enables some mental visualization, this Resolution can be likened to a pimple on a gnat’s behind in terms of its impact on the situation.  It is a ‘feel good’ social statement, nothing more and nothing less, but frankly it is not a terribly impactful social statement.  In fact, it is to my thinking a not-so-artful accusation since the phrase describing the Israelis  holdings of land as “the occupation”is used.

There needs to be two engaged partners in the settlement process and, so far, there is but one…Israel.  Unless and until the Palestinian Authority can gain control of its people and of itself, there is not much real hope for a peaceful and amicable settlement.  And, until that happens, the Israelis will do what they need to do to protect themselves.  That is the simple reality regardless of the GMS’ resolution that seems on its surface to place the majority of the blame for this situation on the Israelis.  There is more than sufficient blame to go around and that ought to have been recognized in the GMS resolution.

I am happy and at peace with my membership in a former GMS-ELCA congregation.  I pray for peace in that part of the world, indeed in all the world, if that is God’s plan for this age in His creation.

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