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BDS victory in Mennonite Church Canada

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The BDS Movement celebrated a victory at the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly this weekend in Saskatoon, with an overwhelming majority of delegates supporting a resolution on that encourages BDS. With 350 delegates in attendance only one person opposed the resolution.

This resolution is in part a response to the 2009 Kairos Document that was prepared by Palestinian Christians in Palestine asking their global Christian brothers and sisters to show their solidarity with them through Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. The Mennonite resolution laments the violence in Israel and Palestine and repents its complicity in anti-Semitism and structures of colonialism that oppress Indigenous people in Canada. The resolution commits the Mennonite Church to further education on what is happening in Israel and Palestine, in addition its concluding demands are:

“We ask the Mennonite Church Canada General Board, along with regional churches, congregations, and members—to avoid investing in or supporting companies that do business with Israeli settlements and the Israel Defense Forces, and companies that are profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian territories; and

We encourage the government of Canada to support measures that put pressure on Israel (including through economic sanctions) to end the occupation and work for a just peace, in accordance with international law.”

Mennonite Church Canada represents over 225 congregations across Canada with a membership of over 31 000. Influential in developing and supporting the resolution is over 60 years of Mennonite service in Palestine and Israel through Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church Canada Witness and Christian Peacemaker Teams. Mennonites are a historic protestant peace church, firmly rooted in principles of nonviolence. They have often spoken out on social justice issues such as war and poverty.

For Mennonites, their call to BDS is a way to non-violently resist Israel’s occupation. As Ray Friesen, pastor of Emmaus Mennonite Church in Saskatchewan, stated in the preliminary discussion leading up to the vote, that Mennonites have three options in response to the oppression of Palestinians: “Violence, the status quo that will oppress and pour down suffering on our Palestinian brothers and sisters, or active nonviolent ways of making a difference.” Friesen spoke to the assembly stating that BDS is a way Mennonites can help bring peace to the region.

This echoed the words of Henry Funk,  “Economic pressure on Israel is a step towards peace. This motion is in the best interest of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the land of Jesus’s birth, his ministry, and his death and resurrection.”. Funk has spent time living in Nazareth and volunteering at Nazareth Village.

Hearing the news of the victory, Palestinian Pastor and Vice President of Bethlehem Bible College Alex Awad responded, “I am delighted to hear of the vote to support BDS against companies that do harm in the West Bank. MC Canada has demonstrated that when delegates are well-informed about the realities of the Israeli occupation, they will vote to support BDS. I hope this vote will encourage churches that are struggling with this issue to follow the example set by MC Canada. All who yearn for peace and justice in the world will welcome MC Canada’s decision to vote on the side of BDS. This is encouraging news for both Palestinian peacemakers and Jewish activists for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine.”

Mennonite Church Canada joins a growing movement of churches that have taken up the call to BDS including the US Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Canada, and several Quaker congregations.

Rachelle Friesen

Rachelle Friesen worked with an international aid organization based in Jerusalem for four years before she was deported. She currently lives in Canada and is studying at York University in Toronto.

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30 Responses

  1. eljay on July 13, 2016, 1:30 pm

    Well done, Mennonite Church Canada! :-)

  2. oldgeezer on July 13, 2016, 2:27 pm

    The sadly amusing part still remains the out of step, paid for, parliament motion condemnimg bds and it’s supporters. Israel has no shortage of monied people willing to pay off politicians. And we have no shortage of politicians willing to sell their morality and souls.

    • eljay on July 13, 2016, 2:38 pm

      Yup, it’s a disgrace to hear our pretty PM and other politicians blathering on about freedom and human rights even as they try to out-do each other fellating the Zio-supremacist donkey.

      • K Renner on July 19, 2016, 10:50 am

        Trudope is simply pathetic when it comes to Palestine and Lebanon.

        And in the same breath he tries to court the “anti-war no matter what crowd” that’s really far left by talking about how fighting Daesh isn’t as much of a priority as it is.

        If he can pretend that you can be some kind of peacenik (although he has supported Iraqi forces with logistics and so on) with the likes of Daesh or Wahhabi-takfirist groups generally, then he sure as hell ought to be able to stand with the Palestinian people and recognize the legitimacy of their nationalist claims and their cause.

        He’s a disappointment generally. I think his father would be far better on the issue if he still lived.

    • K Renner on July 19, 2016, 10:51 am

      Quite simply, pro-Israel Canadian Jews have far too much influence in government, as far as this goes.

      It’s a shame because Canada is not like America. Although most people are “apathetics” or will claim to be “neutral” on the issue, far more of the people in Canada who know about the issue are pro-Palestinian then they are pro-Israel.

  3. lonely rico on July 13, 2016, 4:59 pm

    > oldgeezer

    parliament motion condemning bds and it’s supporters

    42nd Parliament, 1st Session
    SITTING NO. 22 – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2016
    Sponsor: Mr. Clement (Parry Sound—Muskoka)

    That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject (sic) the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.

    > eljay

    … they try to out-do each other fellating the Zio-supremacist donkey.

    To see a list of eljay’s (229) “fellators” –

    What form the government’s condemnation is to take remains a mystery, perhaps limited to moral outrage at those who stand against the criminal and brutal occupation and on the side of justice and peace for the Palestinians.

    Bravo to the Mennonite Church of Canada for choosing to side with BDS, non-violent pressure for a just peace in accordance with international law.

    • K Renner on July 19, 2016, 10:55 am

      It’s always sickening and pathetic to see these cretins crying that simple fact-based reports and testimonies from people on the ground constitute “demonization” or “delegitimization” of the so-called “Jewish state”.

      It’s clear that the pro-Israel Jewish community will brook no opposition whatsoever, at least when it comes to the dedicated propagandists and Palestinian-haters.

      Palestinians “aren’t allowed” to defend themselves in any way whatsoever. It’s pretty clear to me that these “advocates” for Israel would only be happy with the Palestinians if the Palestinians all shot themselves in the head or otherwise willingly committed national and cultural suicide.

      “Resist by any means necessary”, in the face of this kind of (largely) collective mentality, isn’t a bad thing at all. You can’t fault those Palestinians who do just that.

  4. Citizen on July 13, 2016, 7:36 pm

    Where’s the Pope on this?

  5. Ottawa observer on July 13, 2016, 9:27 pm

    I think its wonderful that the Mennonite Church has voted to take concrete action to oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

    But based on the info in this article, it did not go so far as to “side with BDS”. Ending the occupation is only 1 of the 3 main demands of the BDS movement. Equality for Palestinians living inside Israel, and the right of return for the refugees are the other two.

    Hats off to those who brought this to the Canadian Mennonites, but there is still quite a bit of work to do before it can be said that the MC sides with BDS.

    • echinococcus on July 14, 2016, 3:10 am

      Given how far from justice the official BDS demands already are, any act of boycott is siding with BDS anyway. As Mustafa Barghouti says, “if you only want to boycott an egg, I welcome your boycotting that egg”.

      What counts is the information going out to the public.

  6. BDSlist on July 13, 2016, 10:04 pm

    Again, it is a church that is showing moral vision and leadership when it comes to justice for Palestine which are both sorely lacking in our politicians, not least in the Canadian Prime Minister who has so far proved himself Progressive Except for Palestine.
    Thank you Mennonite Church Canada Assembly!

  7. wdr on July 13, 2016, 10:39 pm

    The Mennonite Church of Canada is another microscopically small, left-leaning church in sharp decline. According to its website, it has 31,000 members- less than one-tenth of one per cent of Canada’s population. That’s typical of the churches which have endorsed bds- small sects with sharply declining memberships, where the moderates have all left- usually because of the church’s liberal stance on same-sex marriage-and only the leftists remain.

    • annie on July 14, 2016, 2:34 am

      moderates? you mean the homophobic conservatives. anti gay is not a moderate position.

      “We believe that the practice of homosexuality is rebuked by Scripture as sin.”

      this is not a moderate stance

    • echinococcus on July 14, 2016, 3:14 am

      Well, duh. Larger denominations obviously have majorities corresponding to the bulk of voters. What’s so nice is to see them fall one by one.

    • eljay on July 14, 2016, 12:27 pm

      Better “small sects” voices in favour of justice, accountability and equality than no voices at all.

    • oldgeezer on July 19, 2016, 1:06 pm


      Microscopically small?

      Yes, in the same vein, that a brick mansion is built of tiny bricks. A brick comprised of tiny grains of sand. That large country is comprised of individual citizens.

      Church membership is generally on the decline in all denominations in the western world.

      The mennonite community is generally looked on with respect across the country and even moreso in those areas where they have significant presence.

      The Mennonite Church is hardly the first or largest church in Canada to have supported a boycott of Israeli settlement products. The largest protestant church has also formulated the same policy and call.

      Despite it’s small size this is a significant move and it should be a wakeup call to our politicians who sell their allegiances for a few pieces of silver. Particularly conservative party members.

    • Mooser on July 19, 2016, 3:04 pm

      “The Mennonite Church of Canada is another microscopically small, left-leaning church in sharp decline.”

      And if there’s anything Zionists don’t like, it’s small left-leaning religions! But than, at a solid 200 million souls, we naturally look down on the small-time sects.

  8. shaun patrick on July 14, 2016, 2:14 am

    I am very familiar with the various Mennonite Church Conferences across Canada and I have profound respect for them and their integrity. Do not under estimate the importance of these 31,000 people as many Mennonites are highly successful business people and not just farmers. They remind me in many way of Jewish people whose religion and national identity are closely aligned their influence is far greater than their numbers suggest so this could well be an evolving story.
    Thanks Rochelle for this story and it reminded me of my many Mennonite friends who I really miss as I no longer live in Canada

  9. lonely rico on July 14, 2016, 12:03 pm

    > wdr

    The Mennonite Church of Canada is another microscopically small, left-leaning church … less than one-tenth of one per cent of Canada’s population.

    The Zionist state in Palestine is a microscopically small right-leaning country, less than 1/10th of one percent of the world’s population.
    Typically of a settler-colonial country, the moderates have all left/been driven out, because of Zionism’s stance on racism (for), and human rights & respect for international law (against).

  10. wdr on July 15, 2016, 2:17 am

    The “moderates” haven’t “left/been driven out” of Israel- they have simply lost elections. This may well happen in the US in November. As for Israel being a “settler-colonial country,” now why don’t you give your house back to the American Indian tribe you stole it from? Put your money where your mouth is. And the US wasn’t formed because the UN voted it onto existence- but Israel was. The American Indian tribes weren’t asked if they wanted the white man there, and they weren’t compensated. How can you bear to live even one more day in stolen property?

    • Mooser on July 15, 2016, 11:52 am

      “wdr” don’t bother with these people here.

      They simply cannot accept the fact that 200 million Jews, united in the quest to return to their histrionic homeland, will not be denied.

      And anything the Americans did to the Indians, the Jews can do to the Palestinians. It says so in the Torah!

      • Mooser on July 15, 2016, 2:45 pm

        Well, everybody is always kvetching about “continuity” and the “Palestinian demographic time bomb”. And the “silent Holocaust”
        And ‘disappearing by assimilation’.
        I decided it was time I did something about it.

      • annie on July 18, 2016, 12:27 am

        looks like you caught a love one below mooser

  11. shaun patrick on July 17, 2016, 11:35 pm

    There’s a lot of garbage written here and this number is one…..200 million Jews united to what they claim was there homeland .In the last century the highest number of Jews worldwide is accepted as 17 million in 1938 prior to the Holocaust and today if every Jewish person in the world even those who claim Jewishness but not accepted, the number climbs rises to 20 million. We don’t have a just solution because people read this garbage and lies like this and believe it.

    • RoHa on July 18, 2016, 3:09 am

      Mooser is joking, Shaun.

      • Mooser on July 18, 2016, 12:10 pm

        “Mooser is joking, Shaun.”

        Dad, I’m serious!

        Must be at least.

    • gamal on July 18, 2016, 7:44 am

      “200 million Jew ……people read this garbage and lies like this and believe it.”

      In Cork alone there are 45 million Jews, they drink Murphy’s and are too fluthered to colonize.

      Shaun as Yeats lamented when Swifts modest proposal was read in a Dublin theater and people left in disgust “you have disgraced yourself yet again”, the 12 billion Irish Shaun (Sean) denounce you.

      • Mooser on July 18, 2016, 12:12 pm

        “In Cork alone there are 45 million Jews, they drink Murphy’s and are too fluthered to colonize.”

        Well, as long as they’re not drinking up the Guinness, what do you care?

    • Mooser on July 18, 2016, 2:08 pm

      “and today if every Jewish person in the world even those who claim Jewishness but not accepted,”

      Using that basis, the estimates have gone as high as 2 billion.

      And yes, there are gazillions of people who “claim Jewishness but are not accepted”. There’s not enough of it to go around, let alone give it to every schlump “who claims Jewishness”.
      Look, you bring those people “who claim Jewishness” but can’t be accepted to me, and I’ll explain it to them, but gently, so they don’t go away mad.

    • Mooser on July 19, 2016, 3:07 pm

      ‘the number climbs rises to 200 million.’

      And remember, that is a burgeoning youthful population, heavily weighted toward fighting-age males, too!

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