In December 2009, Palestinian Christians released the Kairos Palestine Document, “A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” In it, Palestinian Christians point out the mission of the Church “to speak the Word of God courageously, honestly and lovingly,” to “stand alongside the oppressed,”urging Christians to “take a position of truth with regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.” It favorably notes that many Palestinian civil organizations, as well as international organizations and churches, support boycotts and divestment as a form of nonviolent resistance to the occupation.
Boycott, divestment and sanctions–or BDS–in the Palestine-Israel context refers to a call issued by over 170 Palestinian organizations in 2005 asking that the international community implement boycott and divestment initiatives to bring change in Israel and Palestine. See this helpful BDS intro by the American Friends Service Committee. There is also a BDS anthology now available as a free ebook download.
As a precursor to the Kairos Palestine Document, long-time Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partner the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center issuedA Call for Morally Responsible Investment: A Nonviolent Response to the Occupationin 2006. There have been many responses to Palestinian Christians calls for boycott and divestment, including articles, church statements and resolutions, press releases and other items including the Kairos USA document and study guide, as well as a helpful study guide by Presbyterian Church USA.
In 2007, Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA) engaged this discussion by releasing an open letter to congregations on “Becoming Peacemakers in Israel/Palestine,” including a helpful biblical-theological reflection. And in 2011, MCUSA issued its own response to Kairos Palestine with a letter to Palestinian Christians as well as a letter to members of Mennonite Church USA.
MCC produced “Peacebuilding in Palestine/Israel: A Discussion Paper” in 2005 meant to help facilitate a conversation in communities in North America about stewardship, divestment, and economic justice.
The Fall 2010 issue of the MCC U.S. Washington Office Memo, “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem: U.S. Policy towards Israel-Palestine,” also lifts up issues named in the Kairos Palestine Document, as does issues of the MCC Peace Office Newsletter such as “Christian Zionism and Peace in the Holy Land” and “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: A Question for the Church.”
Students from several Mennonite-related colleges and universities issued an open letter to Mennonite Church USA to call for attention to and support for selective divestment from the Israeli occupation. They state “Our purpose is to promote peace in Israel/Palestine by first removing our complicity. We urge Mennonite churches and institutions to join us in resisting the structural violence of the illegal Israeli Occupation by making sure our investments are not supporting international law or human rights violations.”