Friday, January 6, 2012

Anti-BDS campaigner out of step with pro-BDS consensus of her Catholic order

As Mondoweiss' Alex Kane reports, in upcoming assemblies of the national United Methodist and Presbyterian church bodies, leading the fight against resolutions of divestment from companies profiting from Israel's occupation and settlements will be Sister Ruth Lautt, the national director of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East (CFWME), and a member of the Dominican sisters order of nuns (Roman Catholic).

Kane's investigation of donation tax records to CFWME show that the organization's funders are also linked to illegal West Bank settlements. The settlement-funders who contribute to CFWME stand in stark contrast to the Dominican order's position on Israel/Palestine. The order's "call to justice" which Lautt's New York-based branch signed onto, calls for prayer and support for the Palestinian United Nations bid for statehood. It also expresses firm support for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The website Dominican Life USA provides access to US Campaign resources.


Wildman
Kane gathered some insight from David Wildman, who serves on the US Campaign's Steering Committee and as Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice with the United Methodist Church's Board of Global Ministries:
“It gears itself, I think, towards otherwise liberal congregations” ... Wildman, a critic of CFWME, also described the organization as an “attack group” that seeks to “block other efforts at achieving a just peace.”

Christian group dedicated to derailing divestment bankrolled by settler-funding philanthropy

by Alex Kane on January 5, 2012

When United Methodists converge on Tampa, Florida this Spring, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) holds its general assembly in early July, the question of divestment from companies that profit off of the Israeli occupation will once again attract significant attention. Delegates at these church wide meetings will be confronted by an array of attacks on any resolution that promotes divestment as one route to pressure Israel and its control over the occupied Palestinian territories. And a familiar face to the delegates will be leading the fight against these resolutions: Sister Ruth Lautt, the national director of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East (CFWME).

Lautt is a member of the Dominican sisters order of nuns (Roman Catholic) and a former lawyer. Her organization, which she runs on her own (though there is a board), says it “advocate[s]” for “fairness” in American church dealings related to Israel/Palestine. In practice, this has meant leading delegations to Israel, promoting “positive investment” in the region instead of divestment, and working “behind-the-scenes” at religious conventions, “helping opponents of divestment draft motions [and] applying persuasion at the subcommittee and committee levels,” as the New York Times has reported.

But an analysis of donations to the organization reveals a much more complicated picture that raises questions about CFWME’s professed mission and their role in church politics on Israel. My investigation of donation tax records to CFWME show that the organization's budget has more than doubled since its founding through the support of funders linked to illegal West Bank settlements and promoting Islamophobia in the U.S.

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