United Church of Canada Minister Stands Against Divestment Fever

The National Post reports of one Canadian minister, Rev Andrew Love,  kicking against the wave of one-sided anti-Israel sentiment sweeping through mainline Protestant denominations, including his own, the United Church of Canada.

A United Church of Canada minister has started a campaign to get rank-and-file members to reject a proposal from the church’s hierarchy to launch an economic boycott against Israel.

“I really want to believe this is the workings of a very active minority in the church,” said Andrew Love, a pastor at a parish in the town of Arnprior, 55 kilometres west of Ottawa.

“The vast majority of people in the pews are not ready to embrace this kind of extremist and radical agenda from a small minority. There is a real disconnect between the leadership and its people.”

He said the proposal contains “elements of anti-Semitism” by minimizing the importance of the Holocaust.

Last week, a working group of the United Church released a paper that called for a selective boycott of goods coming out of what the authors call illegal Israeli settlements, including East Jerusalem. The authors said that legitimate criticism of Israel is far different than anti-Semitism and that the United Church condemns anything that smacks of anti-Jewish bigotry. The report, two years in the making, will be voted on at the church’s general council in August.

This is the fourth proposal concerning sanctions against Israel in the past six years but none was ever voted on by the general council. However, this is the first proposal requested by the church leadership. Other proposals came from grassroots initiatives.

Rev. Love said he will launch a website in the next few days that will ask for support from co-religionists who are also concerned about calls for a boycott and anti-Israel sentiment in the church.

“This report is biased and one-sided and will erode a commitment we made as a church in a [2003 report] to strengthen ties with the Jewish community,” he said.

In 2009, Rev. Love said he travelled to Israel and spent time on the West Bank speaking to families who were having a tough time under Israeli rule. He said at one point he was pelted by stones by Israeli settlers because he was speaking with Palestinians.

“So it’s not that I’m blinded to the plight of Palestinians,” Rev. Love said. “But where is the sense of balance in this report? Once again we are isolating Israel for all our moral condemnation. Shouldn’t we hold to the same fashion other countries in the Middle East? It’s absurd that Israel is singled out because it’s a democracy.”

Read full post here

United Church of Canada in Divestment Bid

The Divestment and Boycott battle moves to a Canadian Protestant denomination The United Church of Canada. However the Canadians are being a bit more nuanced in their press release and recommendation for a divestment bid, until we get this phenomenally bias and naive claim that “Foremost is the conclusion that the first step to peace is to end the occupation.” In fact the first step to peace is the renunciation and cessation of terror and changing the PLO National Covenant accordingly.

Christian supporters of Israel en masse are also hung, drawn and quartered as heretics as they are portrayed as a monolithic group driven by an eschatology that has no concern for Palestinian Arabs. In fact Christian support of Israel is very diverse with some Christian Zionist groups conducting regular aid work amongst Palestinian Arabs too. ““The impact of Christian Zionism must be countered by those in the Christian community who reject these false beliefs,” says Giuliano.” 

A remarkable admission shows how Arab Christian groups and Christian anti-Zionist agent provocateurs have infiltrated and influenced the UCC: “”Our use of the term ‘Jewish state’ has become confusing and problematic for some partners of the United Church and for many inside and outside the church,” explains Giuliano.”

The UCC must reject the arrogance of those who feel their have the right to define what a sovereign nation can call itself.

The working group met everyone from Muslim, Christians, Palestinians and Israelis, the working group heard from Palestinian Christians however failed to meet any Israeli Messianic Jews.

In the aforementioned press release from the UCC chair of the three member working group, the Very Rev. David Giuliano writes:

In the end the working group decided to call for an economic boycott focused exclusively on settlement products. Their recommendation is for the United Church to establish “a church-wide campaign of economic action directed against one or more settlement products that can be identified as produced in or related to the settlements or the occupied territories.”

“What we’re calling for is a focused boycott of products that are being created illegally,” explains Giuliano. “To buy settlement products is the same as buying stolen goods—in other words, benefiting from the crime.” He adds, however, “This is not a call for a boycott of Israel or Israeli products.”

The working group advises against the use of the language of apartheid when applied to Israel. Their report argues that “the charge of apartheid applied to Israel shuts down conversation, disempowers those who desire and work for change in Israel, and does more to harm than to help the potential for successful peace negotiations.”

The JTA reports

May 3, 2012

TORONTO (JTA) – Canada’s largest Protestant denomination is calling for a boycott of goods produced in “illegal” Israeli settlements, including eastern Jerusalem.

In a 26-page report released Tuesday, the United Church of Canada calls for an economic boycott of Israel focused exclusively on settlement products. The report seeks “a church-wide campaign of economic action directed against one or more settlement products that can be identified as produced in or related to the settlements or the occupied territories.”

The Church wants “a focused boycott of products that are being created illegally,” said the Very Rev. David Giuliano, a former moderator, or head, of the United Church, who chaired the three-member working group that wrote the report.

“To buy settlement products is the same as buying stolen goods; in other words, benefiting from the crime,” Giuliano said. He added, however, that “this is not a call for a boycott of Israel or Israeli products.”

A prominent Jewish leader charged Tuesday that the United Church has been hijacked by a small group of anti-Israel activists who do not speak for the whole denomination.

Israel has become an obsession for a small vocal group,” Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, told the National Post newspaper. “I think frankly it betrays the sensibilities of the vast majority of ordinary members of the United Church.”

The report arises from a 12-day visit to Israel in February 2011 in which the working group met with representatives of Palestinian, Israeli,  Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities in Israel and the West Bank. The group concluded “foremost” that the first step to peace is to end Israel’s occupation of territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, including the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

“The occupation is damaging both Palestinians and Israelis,” the report states. “The occupation is being implemented by a democratic country and sustained and supported by Western governments, including Canada’s.”

The Church advises against applying the term “apartheid” to Israel because it “shuts down conversation, disempowers those who desire and work for change in Israel, and does more to harm than to help the potential for successful peace negotiations.”

The report will be considered by the Church’s General Council, which meets in Ottawa in August. Until then, the report is not Church policy.

Read the full UCC Divestment proposal here

United Methodist Church Dumps Israel Divestment

Well done to the UMC for the decision against divestment and refusing to endorse the language of armed ‘resistance’.

UMCPIP (United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine) notes the comments of the head of the Episcopal Church in America :

Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, as reported in the Episcopal News Service, Jefferts Schori said, “The Episcopal Church does not endorse divestment or boycott…It’s not going to be helpful to endorse divestment or boycotts of Israel.  It will only end in punishing Palestinians economically.”

The JTA reports

May 3, 2012

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The general conference of the United Methodist Church voted not to divest from three companies that trade with Israel.

Two-thirds of the approximately 1,000 delegates to the conference voted Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., against a motion to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard.

Divestment advocates claim that products manufactured by these companies are used to repress Palestinians.

The conference passed motions opposing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, recommending the boycott of products manufactured in settlements, and investment in the Palestinian economy.

Language that would have affirmed the Kairos Document prepared by Palestinian Christians endorsing divestment and boycotts and upholding armed resistance was removed from resolutions before they reached the floor.

A number of groups, including one called United Methodist Kairos Response, had lobbied for the divestment language.

Alex Joyner, the spokesman for United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine, said in a statement that his group “had been actively opposing divestment and encouraging the more productive approach of negotiations and positive investments.”