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Press Release: First HP-Free Church

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2016

Media Contacts: 
Ashleigh Zimmerman, Friends of Sabeel North America
(347) 654-8276ashleigh@fosna.org

Dave Grishaw-Jones, Peace United Church of Christ
(831) 426-2010dgj@peaceunited.org

Peace United Church of Christ Becomes First U.S. Congregation to Boycott HP Companies for Their Role in the Israeli Occupation

Santa Cruz, CA -- On Tuesday night, the congregation of Peace United Church of Christ became the first U.S. congregation to vote to boycott Hewlett-Packard (HP) products including printers, computers, and ink cartridges until HP companies cease to profit from Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. Other churches, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), Unitarian Universalists, United Church of Christ, Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation, and the Alliance of Baptists have all divested from HP companies at the denominational level. These organizations represent over 15,000 U.S. congregations and the potential for millions of dollars in buying power.

Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) initiated the campaign, HP-Free Churches, in coordination with the Global Week of Action Against HP that saw over 150 actions take place in dozens of countries across six continents. “Many individual congregations are unaware that their denominations have divested from companies that profit off the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands or that their purchases contradict their denominations’ divestments. We aim to fix that,” said Rochelle Gause, FOSNA’s national organizer.

HP companies supply Israel with the Biometric ID Card System used to restrict Palestinians’ freedom of movement; provide servers for Israeli prisons where Palestinian children and political prisoners are held and torture is widespread; and manage the communications centers, information security, and user support of the Israeli navy as it collectively punishes the civilian population of Gaza through illegal blockade. Similar to the way Polaroid was boycotted for providing the technology for the apartheid South Africa’s racist passbooks, HP companies were selected for their integral role in Israel’s notorious checkpoints and segregated ID system. After immense pressure, Polaroid ended its involvement with the South African regime in 1977.

"Thanks to FOSNA, we have a campaign that is easy for United Methodists to support locally at their churches and in their conferences. Participating in the HP-Free Churches campaign provides another way to help us educate church members about the horrific human rights abuses suffered by Palestinians as we take concrete action to help curb those abuses," says Lisa Bender, chair of the Boycott & Divestment Committee for United Methodists for Kairos Response.

“As we did with allies in the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa and the Grape Boycott in California, we act now to show that churches can and do make a difference, when we step out of our safe routines and onto the path of courage and justice.  This is where we belong, on that path,” remarked Dave Grishaw-Jones, a senior pastor at Peace United Church of Christ.

The widespread success of the Global Week of Action Against HP is a testament to the fact that many local communities are responding to the Palestinian call to join the grassroots Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) is a community of faith in action, called to build for our children a future in which violence is not an everyday concept. The Sabeel movement, of which FOSNA is a part, was initiated by Palestinian Christians and promotes theological, moral, and legal principles for peace in the Holy Land as outlined in the Kairos Palestine document. FOSNA challenges distortions of the Bible and theologies that lead to violence and racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and condemns all acts of violence, whether committed by states, individuals, or groups.

Peace United Church of Christ is a diverse Christian community reflecting the rich and vibrant cultural mix of Santa Cruz, California. As part of the United Church of Christ, Peace United is a boldly progressive church, with deep commitments to peacemaking, justice and diversity. Rooted in the liberal Protestant tradition, Peace United makes space for all kinds of belief and understanding.

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