The United Church of Canada’s Israel Boycott


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At its general council meeting in Ottawa last Wednesday, the left-wing United Church of Canada demonstrated once again why predictions of its eventual disappearance are not to be dismissed. Instead of focusing on spiritual issues, as one would expect a church body to do, the council used its national assembly as a platform to engage in the decidedly less friendly religious activity of Israel bashing.

A report commissioned by the church leadership and presented at the week-long meeting that ended August 18 declared that Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territory is a main reason for the conflict there and calls for a boycott by church members of goods produced by Israeli settlements on the West Bank. This report, a product of the United Church’s Working Group on Israel and Palestine Policy, also wants Israel to dismantle the security barrier it has built to prevent terrorist attacks.

“Simply put, Israel is maintaining a harsh occupation that must end so peace can emerge,” the report stated. “The occupation is damaging both Palestinians and Israelis. The occupation is being implemented by a democratic country and sustained and supported by Western governments, including Canada’s.”

The statements regarding Israel were part of thirteen recommendations that were passed by the council’s 350 delegates in a first vote on Wednesday. Other recommendations, all non-religious, concerned topics like climate change, Canadian mining operations in Third World countries and opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline that would bring Alberta crude to Canada’s west coast for shipment to China.

This is the fourth time the council has called for a boycott, but the first time it has passed in a vote. The anti-Israeli recommendations will receive a second vote on Friday, in which the church will have a chance to redeem itself by rejecting them. But don’t hold your breath.

Once among Canada’s largest churches, numbering more than a million adherents only fifty years ago, the United Church is estimated today to consist of about 500,000 members. The Church was wracked by a crisis in the late 1980s when it adopted a resolution to allow the ordination of gay ministers, causing many members at that time to leave and seek a place in more accommodating, conservative Christian denominations. The United Church was to become so “progressive” that even an atheist became a minister in a Toronto parish.

And like most secular, left-wing political entities, the United Church is very selective about what social and world issues it champions. While it rails against the alleged Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian territory, there is no outrage expressed over Arab occupation and colonization of black African lands in Darfur or southern Mauritania. In both cases, the African populations were violently driven off their patrimonies, which Arabs then settled.

“It was … clear from the start that this military campaign (in Darfur) was going to be much more than just a ‘surgical’ action against specific rebel targets,” writes author Richard Crockett in his book Sudan: Darfur and the Failure of an African State. “The non-Arab Darfuri tribes were to be forced to make way for Arab resettlement.”

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  • gomer q pyle

    so much for "JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED!"

  • andy

    Churches in Canada, at an increasing rate, are being turned into condominiums. Their physical structure was usually built on sound foundations with walls of solid brick, etc. Obviously their spiritual foundation was weaker and like any failing commercial enterprise, they scramble to develop new products that might have greater appeal and popularity. In the case of the United Church, it seems one or two or three individuals have hijacked the management, founded a phony "working group" which they control and exercise their personal anti-Semitism in a pathetic manner.
    I had never before heard of an atheist minister and that sounds like interesting. A church for atheists is a concept that might have a better chance.

  • BS77

    These phony "religious leftists" have it all backwards…but what do you expect from Marxists pretending to be pious? "Religious left"—-what an oxymoron that is!!! Israel is NOT the problem in the middle east, idiots.

  • Bill Law

    An odd defense, this article. It amounts to two arguments, neither of which addresses the UCC's core contention that the occupation is immoral.

    First, the author claims that the UCC's failure to take stands on worse occupations and genocides proves that it is a biased, leftist organization. He uses Darfur as an example (apparently without doing any research. A quick look at the UCC site shows press releases on Darfur dating back years). Even if the author were correct, and UCC were politically more than religiously motivated, it does not prove that the occupation is not inherently evil and worthy of boycott. This leaves the reader with the impression that the author was unable to defend the occupation and so attacked the messenger.

    Second, the author — using quotes from others — argues that the UCC is losing membership and that this decision will cause that trend to continue or increase. This, of course, is irrelevant to the issue of whether the occupation is worthy of boycott. And, on its own, it is intellectually thin. Clearly, until this point, the UCC has not called for a boycott and its membership has declined. One could just as easily (and baselessly) attribute the decline to date to the Church's failure to take a clear moral stand on occupation. Again, even if we stipulate that the author is correct, and this decision hurts membership, he does not attempt a defense of occupation and he fails to show how membership and morality are correlated. Do churches have an obligation to take popular positions that will increase membership or moral positions rooted in their faith and values, regardless of the cost?

    • nadinelumley

      I think I'm in ♥♥♥

    • Canadian Steve

      When will you be handing over your occupied Canadian land to natives?

      Should France and Poland return land from Germany in WW2?

      Do you realize that almost all the settlement issue is about jerusalem suburbs, land won by Jordan in the Arab invasion of Israel, then lost in 67?

      Do you realize Israel has returned 96% of all land won in wars, in a largely fruitless effort at peace?

      If Arabs weren't trying to destroy Israel, then there'd be no "occupation." If Palestinians would take yes for an answer to their 2nd state – Jordan is their 1st – then an agreement would easily be reached. But they're not motivated because 1) no agreement that allows Israel to survive is acceptable to them, and 2) according to President Abbas (and just how does an "occupied" state have a president and its own government?): "in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

      Moreover, Israel accepted every major peace proposal, while the Arabs have rejected them all:
      * League of Nations, 1920s (Arabs no);
      * UN's, 1940's (Arabs no);
      * Israel offered land for peace talks after winning territories in 67 (Arabs’ response, “The 3 No’s”);
      * Supported Sadat's proposal to Palestinians to make peace jointly with Israel in 79 (Palestinians no);
      * 2,000: Clinton: “PM Barak ready to make major concessions, Arafat unable to “make the final jump from revolutionary to statesman … he just couldn’t bring himself to say yes”

      When Palestinians and the Arab/Islamic world are willing to tolerate a non Arab/Muslim state in their midst, there will be peace.

  • Anonymous

    On a program broadcast by Sun News Network in Canada, a guest (who witnessed the proceedings by the United Church) reported that speakers debating the issue went beyond being "anti-Israel". Among other things, they repeated ancient blood libels — it was rank antisemitism. Frankly, I see no difference between the nazi-like Jew hatred of Islamism and the current policies of the United Church.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Any link to a Youtube?

  • Demetrius M

    Once again I'll bring it up, if you're wanting to be just and fair, you had better add Turkey to the boycott. The occupation of northern Cyprus has been going on since 1974 but you wouldn't know it.
    Aside from that, the united "church" of Canada is nothing but a left-wing, political social club. Any member of it thinking it's a church is clinically braindead.

  • Anonymous

    The Sun News Network also reported that the antisemitic hate-fest — the "al-Quds Rally — will have United Church representatives at this rally. The rally, for those who are unaware, advocates for the destruction of the State of Israel and was instituted by A. Khomeini.. Last year they went about waving Hezbollah flags. But are Canada's anti-hate speech laws enforced? Of course not! Perish the thought! Hate speech is only for the likes of publishers of a Mo cartoon or a Macleans magazine.

  • Bartimaeus

    I tried to submitt a 2 paragraphs on the term "occupation" and the notion of justice. But that would not post. Someone else will have to take up the subject.

  • Choi

    I DARE the" United Church of Canada" to take a STAND AGAINST JIHADIST MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD EGYPT for it's GENOCIDE of Coptic Christians.

  • Confucius Say

    Disney World boycotted "Ahava" products.

    It's a small world afterall.

  • nadinelumley

    In Canadian first, Carleton University students pass Israel occupation divestment resolution by large margin

    Graduate students at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada have overwhelmingly voted for divestment from companies profiting from Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.

    The referendum win is almost certainly Canada’s first such result, and only the second time in the world such a resolution has been passed by a student body-wide vote.
    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/

    • Drakken

      It just goes to show you we are not educating these kids but indocrinating them, reality and the real world are going to be a bitch for them.

  • nadinelumley

    The idea that being the victim of persecution ***doesn’t excuse persecuting others is completely valid.

    Norman Finkelstein, who for his writings has been virtually blacklisted, noted in "The Holocaust Industry" the Jewish Holocaust has allowed Israel to cast itself and "the most successful ethnic group in the United States" as eternal victims.

    (um, shouldn't it be Native Americans being USA's biggest victims? Then the black slaves?).

    Finkelstein, the son of Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, goes on to argue this status has enabled Israel, which has "a horrendous human rights record," to play the victim as it oppresses Palestinians or destroys Lebanon. This victim status has permitted U.S. Jewish organizations (the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and others) to get their hands on billions of dollars in reparations, much of which never finds its way to the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors.

    Finkelstein’s mother, who was in the Warsaw ghetto, received $3,500, while the World Jewish Congress walked away with roughly $7 billion in compensation moneys. The organization pays lavish salaries to its employees and uses the funds to fuel its own empire.

    For many the Nazi Holocaust is not used to understand and deal with the past, and more importantly the universal human capacity for evil, but to manipulate the present.

    Finkelstein correctly writes the fictitious notion of unique suffering leads to feelings of unique entitlement.
    http://www.armenews.com/article.php3?id_article=2

    • Drakken

      Listening to the commi self hating jew tell us all we need to know about a useful idiot of the progressive persuasion that you are, get bent.

  • nadinelumley

    More than 250 academics from 14 different European countries have written to the European Commission urging it to take action to prevent Israeli arms companies and other companies involved in abuse of Palestinian human rights from participating in EU funded research consortia.
    http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/

    • Drakken

      Here let me help you with that, everything those pali savages gets is well deserved, the day Gaza is pushed into the sea you will have peace.

  • nadinelumley

    CHRIS HEDGES: Take the Israel occupation of Gaza. If I had dinner with *any* Middle East correspondent, none of us would have *any* disagreements about the Israeli behavior in Gaza, **which is a collective war crime. And yet to get up and write it and say it within American society (or in Canada and England) is not a career enhancer.

    Because there's a powerful Israeli lobby, and it's a lobby I don't think represents Israel, it represents the right-wing of Israel. And you know it (talking about Israel’s bad behaviour is a career killer). But, the great reporters are brave and still talk about it. And they're there.
    http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-capitalis

    • Haroldpom

      The Israeli lobby isn't that powerful. You will always be able to land a job as correspondent, reporter or opinion columnist with the Toronto Star or Globe & Mail. In the US there is always the New York Times or the Washington Post. It takes more courage to stand up for Israel than against Israel.

    • Drakken

      You call it a war crime, I call it well deserved war fare, you either side with the savage palis of you side with civilization, there is no longer any middle ground.

  • nadinelumley

    How Harper keeps the truth about Israel out of Canada

    Talks about how Harper’s Federal government routinely denies or is slow to grant VISAs to visitors to Canada who well known to talk about what bad things Isreal is really doing to Palestine.

    Aljazeera profiles CJPME President Thomas Woodley in documentary. CJPME = Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

    24 min. long http://youtu.be/a6rTiylyjpg

    • Drakken

      Typical commi organization, good to know you openly side with muslim jihadist.

  • nadinelumley

    Truthy alert

    The reason Israel gets away with murder is because everyone is so scared of being called an anti-semite. I’m not anti-semite; I’m anti-murder.

    Support for Israel equals support for war crimes.
    http://youtu.be/LLrjYIMCl_c

    • UCSPanther

      Thanks for wasting your time. Most Canadians are actually FOR Israel.

      Too bad for you.

      And Norman FInkelstein is a holocaust denier of the same cloth as David Irving and Ernst Zundel.

    • BS77

      Hey Nadine, get off your little soap box…and take a long walk on a short pier. Over 30,000 people have been slaughtered in Syria. Over 300,000 have been massacred in Sudan…but leftist morons like yourself keep obsessing over Israel whenever there is a response to rocket attack, terrorist attack, bus bombing etc. Why bother arguing with a brainwashed idiot like you??? it's futile.

  • Mburu

    THE WRITER SAYS "Instead of focusing on spiritual issues, as one would expect a church body to do, the council used its national assembly as a platform to engage in the decidedly less friendly religious activity of Israel bashing…"

    ME SAYS: human rights abuses against the non-jewish people in the occupied territories in Palestine is a matter of grave concern to every spiritual and sincere person in the world…

    I have never heard this writer request the ZIONIST CHRISTIANS in the US to just "focus on spiritual issues" and leave out middle-east politics from their agenda……….amazing hypocrisy????????????????????

  • Mburu

    "The occupation OF PALESTINE is being implemented by a RACIST country and sustained and supported by Western governments, including Canada’s WHICH ARE ARM-TWISTED BY POWERFUL ZIONIST LOBBIES "

    • BS77

      Hey Mburu…Israel is the MOST pluralistic, most democratic, most diverse, most tolerant nation in the region. Of course Israel takes a very strong position on defending itself….but as for your idiotic statements…the usual leftist garbage about racism, occupation and Zionism….you don't know anything about what you say…that's because you are just another leftist robot parroting the words of your puppet masters. Thousands of people come to Israel to work and live…from Vietnam, Thailand, India, Ethiopia, Egypt…yes, people come to be part of the strongest economy in the region…..from all over the world while you leftist idiots keep up the big lie about racism and occupation. Go freak yourself.

    • Drakken

      Take your race card and your effing muslims and get bent, war is coming and when it does I hope your out of the west because there will be no quarter.

  • Mike

    The United Church is becoming irrelevant.Its membership has dwindled over the years.The church has become more of a protest movement than a religious one.The main theme is gay rights and the anti-Israel rhetoric.

  • Katharina Sri

    Only the most racist, primitive, barbaric, sexist and supremacist Saudi/Arab-led Islam is persecuting Christians, especially in the whole Arabic-conquered Middle-East, not our brother-sister Jews who share the same God as Christians, especially of democratic and modern Israel! The Arabic Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem (besides the Arabic Muslim Brotherhood’s founder, Hasan al-Banna and the Turkish Ottoman empire) was Socialist Hitler's collaborator or adviser before, in persecuting not only the Jews but also Christians, in all Europe! Please read Melanie Phillips article further about the main Churches hating Israel. Also, why we Christians who love and who feel grateful to Israel and the righteous Jews (whom our God graced us with the Ten Commandments through the Jewish Moses and ultimately, the greatest Salvation through our Jewish 'born' Lord Christ, from this wickedly-ruled evil world of the Devil and his servants), should be aware of the danger of such SATANIC Replacement Theology ideology. Where such replacement ideology, I suspect, was created by Mohammed's Arabic-Muslim conquerors in Palestine (unfortunately still being promoted by Arabic Palestinian Christian churches that still influence many Western Churches including in Germany here), to divide and paved the way for violent hostility between Jews and Christians (that reached Middle Age Europe eventually, that include the Spanish Inquisition), who share the same God. Most Middle East Christians like the Egyptian Coptics must realize that they were colonized by Mohammed's Arab-Muslim army that erased their diverse ethnic identities as non-Arab/non-Muslims as illustrated in the Bible. See – http://baptistbulletin.org/?p=11046

    Replacement Theology

    Posted By Lynne Goemaat On May 1, 2009

    ….Replacement theology rejects the Biblical revelation concerning the Abrahamic Covenant that God established with the nation of Israel as an everlasting covenant with everlasting ownership of the land of Canaan (Genesis 13:14, 15; 17:7, 8, 19). Replacement theology claims that Israel broke the Abrahamic Covenant when it rejected Jesus Christ at His first coming. As a result, the covenant was repealed, and God forever rejected Israel as a nation. Israel lost ownership of the land and the everlasting nature of the Abrahamic Covenant. God will save individual Jews, but He has no present or future program for Israel as a nation. He has rejected Israel as His people and replaced it with the church. The church is now the Israel of God.
    Replacement theology has immediate political implications. Some church denominations have even petitioned businesses to cut off trade with Israel so it cannot exist as a nation in the Middle East. Some groups have tried to influence the United States government to change its policy of support for Israel that has been in effect since 1948…..
    Replacement theology played a key role in the persecution of Jews by the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholic political rulers for centuries to come. In the name of Jesus Christ, hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered as “Christ killers,” and numerous others were uprooted and forced to move to other countries……

  • Brujo Blanco

    Whenever the anti Israel crowd speaks of so -called Israeli war crimes there is no mention of what the Islamics have done or plan to do to the Jews of the world. When there are 150 anti-personnel rockets are fired into Israel to kill Jewish civilians the Jews are told to show restraint. When Muslims talk about wiping Israel off the face of the earth the Muslims are not criticized. The current mantra of the left is that it is ok to murderer Jews but is is not ok to oppose Muslim violence. Let there be no misunderstanding this is about wiping out an entire people on a worldwide scale.

  • Hugh Reid

    I'm in the United Church, a Christ centred Christian. I do not agree with the resolution passed by General Council and neither do most members of the United Church according to a recent survey. This resolution is not binding on United Church members. It is to be taken as advice. I do not agree with the advice. For many reasons, I believe it is wrong to isolate Israel. That being said your readers should be aware that similar resolutions were passed by the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Methodist Church USA, and the British Methodist Church, and a number of Jewish groups, "Independent Jewish Voices" and Jewish Voices for Peace advocate for the same action.

  • Hugh Reid

    The issue is human rights in the "occupied" territories. An examination of the concerns raised will reveal a consistent violation of human rights in these territories. This is a spiritual issue. For Christians, how we treat our neighbour is a spiritual issue. As Christians called to love our neighbours, even our enemies, we are called to bear witness to the reconciliation accomplished through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the prophets and Jesus, special attention in this regard is to be paid to the weak, voiceless and the suffering, widows and orphans. That being said, I believe the "isolation" of Israel is not acting in the way we are called by Jesus in response to the numerous the violations of the humanity of our neighbours. Your readers have mentioned a few examples. The plight of Palestininians, especially Palestinian Christians in the occupied territories deserves to be heard and is worthy of criticism but to isolate Israel is also worthy of criticism.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    The United Church of Canada thinks Jesus was a son of Marx/Lenin/Stalin.

  • jmz

    not shocking. socialists are power hungr people, no better than the dictators they love or th e'lourdes and ladies and nobility' of olde. they still believe power is rightfully theirs and theirs alone by birth. they just spout 'social problems' as a way to make their power grab easier and more palateble. they are "solutions" in search of "problems". but make no mistake. the 'problemsolving' is designed to propel them forward in power ONLY, not solve the problem. In fact, the solving of said problem is the last thing a progressive wants, as it means the end of that particulat power ride.

  • g_jochnowitz

    A Christian girl in Pakistan who has Down's Syndrome has been accused of burning pages of the Koran and may face a death sentence for blasphemy http://india.nydailynews.com/newsarticle/503163dc
    Does the United Church of Canada worry about brain-damaged Christian children who may be executed by an Islamic state? Of course not. Hating Israel comes first.

    • Ronald Kay

      No, it is much easier to adopt whatever viewpoint is trendy today. The current Whitehouse is not sympathetic to Israel, so why not gulp down the Kool-Aide? It is certainly easier than trying to educate oneself. Typical UCC members. Support the Church taking a popular stand on environment, politics, the economy while they smuggly snap their change purse shut after depositing a pension cheque of evil corporate dividends, heating their homes and driving with fossil fuels and consuming electric power generated by nuclear energy! All I can say is goodebye and good riddance. And by the way, when will the UCC actually list the settlement products to be boycotted?