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Sunday, August 16, 2009

UCC Israel Boycott initiative failed, but they'll be back:

A boycott initiative failed, but they'll be back:

Hijacking Interrupted: United Church of Canada Says No to Anti-Israel Boycott

Despite a plea by an activist from the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, the General Council of United Church of Canada has voted down two proposals to boycott Israel, and denied approval to a third that was originally accompanied by background material that obliquely accused un-named Jewish members of the Canadian Parliament of being disloyal to Canada because of their support for Israel. The vote took place on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2009, shortly after the commission voted to repudiate the background material associated with these resolutions

The Council's decision does not prohibit local churches from boycotting Israel and leaves open possibility that the denomination will re-consider the issue at its next meeting in 2012. United Church of Canada Spokesman Rev. Bruce Gregersen, reported that the commission dealing with the issue took the following action:

What the commission did finally is say that the United Church has not begun or approved a boycott at a national level. However, it has stated its encouragement and recommendation to its member bodies, to conferences and presbyteries and congregations across the church that they are free to study, to discern, and to pray on how to undertake their own initiatives which may include an economic boycott as a means of ending the occupation.

The General Council has also instructed the General Secretary of the General Council to "begin a process of study discernment and prayer around the use of a number of means to end the occupation which may include also further consideration of an economy boycott and come back to the 41st council for a recommendation," Gregersen said.

Before the council rejected the boycott proposals they heard testimony from Rabbi Reuven Bulka, immediate past co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and Nora Carmi from Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. Carmi began her testimony with the following exhortation:

Sisters and brothers, do not fear little flock and bravely follow our Savior Jesus Christ who came to proclaim the release to the captives, good news to the poor and let the oppressed be free. Discipleship means risk and risk is costly. But stand firm.

Carmi then called on delegates to approve the two boycott resolutions and a third which invoked the Fourth Geneva Convention and notions of anti-racism in an effort to portray Israel as an apartheid state while remaining silent about the war crimes and human rights abuses perpetrated by Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The resolutions, Carmi said would not only "contribute to ending the suffering of and the injustice against my people the Palestinians, but will honestly help the rulers of Israel to do justice, to love mercy and walk humbly with God as the teachings and morality of Judaism dictate."

Continued - Hijacking Interrupted: United Church of Canada Says No to Anti-Israel Boycott

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