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Three US Churches Consider Boycott of Israel

July 6, 2015

“And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed.  Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel.  I will also give you rest from all your enemies.”  (2 Samuel 7:10–11)

American Christian church organizations continue to discuss ways to delegitimize and hurt Israel economically.  

This past week, three US churches ruled on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) measures against Israel.

On Tuesday, the United Church of Christ announced it will divest from Jewish-run companies in the disputed territories, claiming “a desire to support Palestinians in their nonviolent struggle for freedom.”  (Haaretz)

“The United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network (UCC PIN) is pleased to announce that today the plenary of the 30th General Synod taking place in Cleveland passed Resolution #4, calling for boycotts and divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands,” the UCC stated in a press communiqué Tuesday.

“The vote in favor of divestment by the United Church of Christ at its General Synod is a blow to morality and peacemaking in the Middle East,” stated NGO Monitor, adding that the vote “shows that most delegates either failed to recognize that BDS seeks to end the existence of Israel, or did understand and supported the resolution nonetheless.”

BDS is anti-peace as it promotes the destruction of Israel and opposes dialogue, cooperation, and developing peaceful ties between Israelis and Palestinians.  The church’s decision has made the UCC a participant in the conflict, the opposite of peacemakers,” NGO Monitor said. 

Not all Churches made the same ruling as the UCC.

On July 2, the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops voted to postpone BDS actions at its 70th General Convention held in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The Very Rev. Walter Brownridge, Dean of the Hawaii Diocese, led the resolution to create a list of companies profiting from the alleged “Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories” in order to divest from them by June 2017.

On Thursday, the 95,000-member Mennonite Church USA also voted (418–336) at a national meeting to delay until 2017 the church’s vote on whether to boycott and divest from Israeli businesses in Judea and Samaria.

While these churches present Israel as an occupier of Judea and Samaria, this is more than just a mistaken idea; it is a form of anti-Semitism that works against the peace process.

“Since the territories of Judea and Samaria were never a legitimate part of any Arab state, including the Kingdom of Jordan, it is impossible to determine that Israel is an occupier in Judea and Samaria in the accepted legal definition,” states Daniel Reisner, the former international-law department head of Israel’s Military Advocate General’s Corps.  “What’s more is that the Jewish people have a historic, legal, and physical link to Judea and Samaria.”


This “Boycott Israel” T-shirt falsely portrays Israel as bombing babies.  (Photo by Hisham Almiraat)

The stance of Christians against Israel in deference to the Palestinian narrative is “based on two fallacies,” writes Chicago Sun Times opinion writer Steve Huntley.

The anti-Israel BDS movement stems from the false claims that “Israel doesn’t do enough to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and that “all Israeli ‘settlements’ in the West Bank are illegal and should be abandoned in any negotiated peace agreement,” Huntley elaborates.  He also notes that some strong — and legal — Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria would easily be part of Jewish territory in any future land swaps upon a two-state split.

The idea that Israel is preventing peace because of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria directly contrasts Israel’s obligation under 1967 United Nations resolution 242, “which assumed Israel would administer the territories until Arab countries were willing to negotiate new, more secure borders. … In the meantime, Israel continues to face terrorist threats from the area, necessitating its presence.  When Palestinian leaders finally say yes to peace, new, secure borders can be established.”  (Stand With Us)

The false idea of a belligerent Jewish presence ignores the fact that hostilities against Israel have skyrocketed with no correlation to Israeli settlements.  As well, Israeli offers to uproot Jewish towns (which cover less than 1.7 percent of Judea-Samaria) have been rejected.

“Indeed, there were no settlements when Palestinian violence against Jews began in 1920 or when violence escalated into wars and terrorism between 1948 and 1967.  When Israel evacuated all settlements in Gaza in 2005, terrorism and hostility escalated.  When Israel offered to dismantle West Bank settlements for peace in 2000 and 2008, Palestinian leaders said no,” writes Stand With Us.  “The controversy about settlements is a symptom, not a cause, of the conflict, which is rooted in Palestinian rejectionism.”


Israeli homes in Samaria

From a Biblical standpoint, to deny the Jews’ connection to their historical heartland, Samaria and Judea (from which the Jews were named) is to deny God’s everlasting plan for the Jewish people, which is tied inextricably to the Land of Israel.

It is to stand against God’s Word, the Word made flesh, and the Almighty Himself.   It is to choose to be an enemy of God.

Therefore the Palestinian narrative, which claims a pursuit of “freedom” from the “occupying” Jews in this Jewish homeland, can only be sin.

This land now referred to as the West Bank has been recognized as Judea and Samaria for thousands of years.

“Many world-renowned travelers, historians and archeologists of earlier centuries refer to ‘Judea and Samaria,'” says Yoram Ettinger, consultant for Ariel Center for Policy Research.  “No nation on earth other than Britain and Pakistan recognized Jordan’s claim to Judea and Samaria. … Even the Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as official British and Ottoman records until 1950, used the term Judea and Samaria, and not the West Bank.”

Furthermore, Judea and Samaria were dubbed the “West Bank” by Jordan 60 years ago when it captured those territories after Israel proclaimed her independence.  Nevertheless, with the San Remo Resolution of 1920, the League of Nations affirmed that Jews had a legal right to “settle anywhere in western Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

People around the world can help fight the boycott of Israel by deliberately buying Israeli products.

People around the world can help fight the boycott of Israel by deliberately buying Israeli products.

It is mystifying that these church organizations continue to focus on Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, when Christians are being killed for their faith in other countries throughout that region.

“These Churches are not worried about the Christians beheaded in Libya by the Islamic State.  These Christians are not raising the alarm on the last Christians of Aleppo,” Il Foglio journalist Giulio Meotti points out.  “How can we explain all this Christian animosity toward the Jewish people in this time of suffering for Christian communities?”  (Arutz 7)

“It is a kind of anti-Semitism which cannot be explained by rational concepts.  It is a virus, a malady, a disease, a cancer which will ultimately rebound against Christians themselves,” Meotti asserts, adding a warning to Christians:  “Don’t forget what happened during the Holocaust.  You sided with the enemies of the Jewish people and you were also devoured by them.”

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ … ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”  (Matthew 25:40, 45)

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