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British Methodism ostensibly will boycott goods from “from illegal Israeli settlements” based on a plea last year from the reflexively anti-Israel Swiss-based World Council of Churches: “The Methodist Conference notes the call of the World Council of Churches in 2009 for an international boycott of settlement produce and services and the support given for such a boycott by Christian leaders in Palestine in the Kairos document, Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Jewish organizations both inside Israel and worldwide and calls on the Methodist people to support and engage with this boycott of Israeli goods emanating from illegal settlements.”
It’s a nice, if unpersuasive touch, that the British Methodists felt obliged to claim a “growing number of Jewish” groups are urging anti-Israel divestment, at the insistence of “Christian leaders” among the Palestinians. Their call for boycott was accompanied by a 54 page report ironically called “Justice for Palestine and Israel,” whose verbosity and turgid prose are common for declining, bureaucratic churches.
With Christian charity, the British Methodists insist their anti-Israel boycott is not about “revenge but rather to put an end to the existing injustice, ‘liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice, using tools of non-violence, for justice, peace and security for all,’” quoting from a Palestinian “Kairos” proclamation. And while this particular British Methodist boycott is supposedly aimed only at products from “illegal” Jewish settlements, the church report notes approvingly that “some Methodists would advocate a total boycott of Israeli goods until the Occupation ends.” No doubt. An organizer of the British Methodist stance pretty much has admitted that the partial boycott is a politically realistic incremental step towards a more comprehensive boycott. He reputedly acknowledged: “I know how much I can get away with in the churches sometimes. [...] Churches are paranoid about being critical of Israel sometimes, they want to be balanced all the time, we must put pressure on church leaders.”
And likely more than a few British Methodist elites regard the whole enterprise of modern Israel as an “illegal settlement,” even if not admitting so for the moment. Unsurprisingly, with so much church energy and venom plowed into the anti-Israel project, British Methodism has lost 10 percent of its membership last in the last several years. Now down to about a quarter million members and plunging, the British Methodists seemed determined to shun their noble history in favor of an ignoble political crusade.
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