Church of Scotland backs away from boycott call in the face of pressure

Israel/Palestine

Last week the Church of Scotland issued a short, stern report on Israeli settlement activity, called “The Inheritance of Abraham?  A Report on the ‘Promised Land,” urging the church to take action against the occupation, including boycott and disinvestment.

Leaders of the Jewish community flipped out over the report, particularly its assertions that the Bible and the Holocaust were being misused to justify expansion, as well as statements like this: “Christians should not be supporting any claims by Jewish or any other people to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory.”

The ADL’s Abe Foxman said the paper “negated the beliefs of Judaism,” while a Scottish Jewish organization said the report was reminiscent of the Inquisition’s polemics against Jews. (Marc Ellis wrote about it on our site.) 

Well, the church retreated yesterday. It’s going to “reword” the report; and the original is no longer featured on the Church of Scotland’s website. (Here’s the old link: it goes nowhere.)

Here’s a portion of a statement the church issued along with Jewish orgs. It seems to concede that the original language contributed to a “culture of anti-Semitism.” 

9 May 2013
The Church of Scotland and representatives of the Jewish Community in Scotland and the United Kingdom, held useful discussions facilitated by the Council of Christians and Jews this afternoon, Thursday 8 May. We agreed that the drafting of the report published by the Church and Society Council for discussion at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has given cause for concern and misunderstanding of its position and requires a new introduction to set the context for the report and give clarity about some of the language used.
In particular the Church of Scotland needs to be explicit about some things that are implicit policies of the Church:
There is no change in the Church of Scotland’s long held position of the right of Israel to exist.
The Church condemns all violence and acts of terrorism, where ever they happen in the world.
The concern of the Church about the injustices faced by the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories remain firm, but that concern should not be misunderstood as questioning the right of the State of Israel to exist.
That the Church condemns all things that create a culture of anti Semitism.

 

The Guardian says the Church bagged the paper under political pressure:

The concession emerged after Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, accused the church of perpetuating anti-Semitic views by challenging the basis of Jewish ties and belief in Israel, and distorting the basis of Zionism.

“This report not only plays into extremist political positions, but negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful,” Taub said.

“If a document of this nature is adopted by the Church of Scotland it would mark a significant step backwards for the forces of tolerance and peace in our region.”

Here is more about the original from the JPost:

The paper, entitled “The Inheritance of Abraham,” rejects “claims that scripture offers any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory.” The paper further states that “reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza are ended.”

The report was published online this week by the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland ahead of the church’s general assembly on May 18. The report’s introduction describes it as the council’s “latest reflection on the ‘questions that need to be faced,’ as the political and humanitarian situation in the Holy Land continues to be a source of pain and concern for us all.”

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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