MCC photo/Ryan Rodrick Beiler

MCC Palestine and Israel Partner Relations Director Bassem Thabet facilitates a forum of Palestinian and Israeli partner organizations titled, “Developing a Peace Strategy.” The group met at Hope Secondary School in the West Bank town of Beit Jala in May 2011.

AKRON, Pa. – The board of directors of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. unanimously decided that MCC U.S. will not knowingly invest in companies that benefit from products or services used to perpetrate acts of violence against Palestinians, Israelis and other people groups.

The action, taken at the board’s March 16 meeting in Akron, grew from a call from partners in Palestine and Israel, including churches there, and follows a discernment process with leaders of the denominations that sponsor MCC U.S.

MCC staff in the Middle East delivered the message from churches and other partners in a letter shared about a year ago. MCC has worked with partners in Palestine and Israel for more than 60 years and more than 40 years, respectively.

The board agreed that “all reasonable measures” are to be applied immediately to not support violence in the Palestine and Israel conflict, and also that staff should explore “similar actions in support of partners in other parts of the world.”

The action means that MCC U.S. will not invest direct holdings in companies on the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) “Israel/Palestine Investment Screen” list, will choose to invest in mutual funds that limit exposure to companies on the list and will join efforts to encourage the mutual funds that it holds to adopt similar screens. Staff also will aim to align MCC U.S.’ purchasing patterns with these investment principles.

MCC U.S. Executive Director J Ron Byler explained that while the list names only companies that support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, perpetrating acts of violence against Israelis is already illegal for Europe- and U.S.-based companies. “We will take action if we become aware of offenders against Israel, but our government ensures we do no harm to Israel, while there is no such care for Palestinians. With our partners, we desire peace, justice and reconciliation for all.”

MCC U.S. investments traditionally have mirrored the organization’s core Christian values, using vehicles such as socially responsible funds.

Byler said another aspect of the action included participating with sponsoring denominations’ peacemaking and justice-seeking efforts as invited. He said opportunities for this exist now with sponsoring denomination Mennonite Church USA.

Cheryl Zehr Walker is MCC U.S. director of communications.