Proposals Before The United Church Of Canada General Council Reveal Growing Racism And Anti-Semitism Within The Body Of The Church
UCC Pastor Launches Bridges Not Boycotts.ca to fight anti-Semitism in liberal Protestant churches in Europe and North America
– There is a growing cancer of anti-Semitism taking hold of the body of the United Church of Canada (UCC). Sadly, three years have passed since the United Church of Canada launched its boycott campaign against Israel and, at this week’s national meeting, they will consider expanding this campaign.
For years, the UCC has argued that it is primarily concerned with seeking justice for Palestinian people and is only against the presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. However, the slate of proposals coming to its national meeting this week in Newfoundland call for the church to go much further and end its support for a two-state solution.
“It is evident now that there is an activist community within the UCC that will not be satisfied until the very existence of Israel, as a homeland for the Jewish people, ends.” said Rev. Andrew Love (Ordered Clergy). “For the activists, the current boycott campaign is just a step towards their ultimate objective which is to replace Israel with a different state”.
Other BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) proposals coming to the national meeting include the following;
- Calling for full divestment from all corporations benefiting from the “illegal occupation”;
- Calling for church money to be given to an “independent” BDS advocacy group to increase the reach of the UCC boycott campaign;
- Claims that the emergence of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq is a consequence of the “48-year long occupation of Palestinian territory”;
- Calling for UCC to end its support for a two-state solution; thus, ending its recognition of Israel as a Jewish democratic state.
The thrust of these proposals signify an ominous and discouraging rise of traditional Christian anti-Semitic prejudices. Over recent decades, liberal Protestant churches have recognized and acknowledged that anti-Semitism is a foundational paradigm that has afflicted Christianity for centuries. Yet, the rise of church support for BDS against Israel shows how traditional racist attitudes have morphed into a new form underpinned with old prejudices.
Human rights leaders including Irwin Cotler (MP- Mount Royal), Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Bernard Lewis and Natan Sharansky point out that new anti-Semitism is evident in the disproportionate and obsessive criticism; whereby, traditional prejudice against Jews is directed at the State of Israel. In this manner, Israel is viewed as an oppressive criminal political entity that conspires to create conflict, steal land from the Palestinians and wage genocidal wars. The State of Israel is now being targeted as the “collective Jew among the nations”.[i]
While it is legitimate to criticize Israel for its actions, it becomes discriminatory when a double-standard is applied and the very existence of the nation is undermined. These proposals are anti-Semitic for the following reasons;
- Calling for the church to end to its support for a two-state solution is religious arrogance directed at Judaism and the historic connection of the Jewish people to Judea and Samaria (West Bank);
- Attempt to de-legitimize the existence of the State of Israel by claiming that only the Palestinians have a right to self-determination;
- Continue to attack Zionism as the root cause of all the problems in the region. This amounts to indicting Israel and the Jewish people as being solely responsible. None of the proposals pay any attention to the constant attacks from Gaza and from terrorist groups in West Bank and Lebanon. There is no mention of existential threats coming from Iran and its proxy armies. Actual facts are rewritten or ignored and Israel is blamed for breaking ceasefires with Hamas;
- Completely ignore far more egregious human rights violations in the region. There is not a single proposal calling for the UCC to take action to support the plight of Palestinians living under occupation by ISIL. It has been reported that almost 2000 Palestinians living in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria have been killed. Real genocide is being perpetrated against Iraqi and Assyrian Christians. However, there are no proposals addressing this grave situation. Israel continues to be held to a higher moral standard than any other country;
- Completely reject the historic and legal foundations of the State of Israel through the Palestine Mandate, UN Charter and UN Resolutions that call for negotiations to arrive at secure and defensible borders;
- Regional conferences leading up the national meeting rejected five proposals coming from clergy that want to emphasize peace-building initiatives rather than boycotts.
Rev. Andrew Love- 613-853-1700 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] Irwin Cotler: “We are witnessing a new, sophisticated, virulent and even lethal anti-Semitism” National Post. March 5 2015.