Comments by readers in response to the Senator's letter re the Report of the Working Group on Israel/Palestine
The UCC and Israel
As a United Church of Canada minister who has led two group travel experiences to Israel and the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, I would encourage our nine senators to get first-hand experience of the current situation (Senators Warn Church On Israel Boycott – July 4). It would then be clear that the position of the church’s working group is neither anti-Israel nor pro-Palestinian. It is pro-justice.Ever-expanding settlements prevent any real possibility of peace. To refuse to enhance their economic growth by boycotting products produced there is the least anyone promoting peace in this region can do. If Canada seeks to be Israel’s best friend, it has a moral duty to confront the behaviour of its friend. A call for ethical action should enhance Jewish-Christian relations, not impair them – both of our great religious traditions recognize justice as a deeply cherished value.
Rev. Nancy Steeves, Edmonton......
Seeing as the state of Israel is the Jewish homeland, it is difficult for Canadian Jewry to believe that the United Church’s proposed boycott stands detached from anti-Semitic sentiments. Most Jews living in the diaspora foster a strong connection with Israel, and will most definitely take such a judgment personally should the church approve it.The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a long-standing struggle and peace has yet to be negotiated. I am unsure how the church truly believes a boycott could assist in brokering peace – choosing sides is only going to deepen the conflict while significantly weakening the United Church’s relationship with the Jewish community.
Jessica Pollock, Toronto.......
I am a member of Canada’s Jewish community, and I applaud the United Church. If it is “technically impossible,” as the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says, to distinguish which products come from the settlements, that is because Israel does not label settlement products as such, but falsely labels them as coming from Israel.Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitism, and I am delighted that the United Church has come to realize this, and what’s more, to act on it.
Elizabeth Block, Toronto