Church of Scotland rejects boycott
We are pleased to announce that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has accepted a motion which calls upon the Foreign Secretary to use her influence both as the representative of Her Majesty’s Government and in co-operation with her colleagues within the EU to encourage HAMAS to issue a statement accepting Israel’s right to exist.
But there’s more: the whole motion explicitly recognised Israel’s right to security, rejected a boycott and called for economic engagement with both sides.
We congratulate the General Assembly for having the courage to stand against the militants and, naturally, we recommend that Anglicans seek to emulate the good sense displayed by the Church of Scotland.
Hopefully the motion will have incorporated these six principles drawn up by the Kirk's Church and Society Council:-
- The Church condemns unequivocally all acts of terrorism and violence, which are designed primarily to bring a civilian population into a state of fear.
- The Church supports, without reservation, the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign nation with secure, internationally recognised, legal borders.
- The Church supports the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and similarly to exist in a viable nation within secure, internationally recognised, legal borders.
- The Church recognises the particular problems associated with the thrice Holy City of Jerusalem. In particular, recognising that much of Israel/Palestine has sites of special religious importance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a solution to the problems of the area cannot be achieved without consideration of the issues of access and security to the sites of Jerusalem being resolved satisfactorily for all concerned.
- The Church condemns forcefully statements made by nations, organisations or individuals which are inconsistent with the above principles. Current examples of this are seen in the inflammatory and divisive statements made by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (denying the Holocaust and urging that Israel be driven into the sea).
- Finally, the Church believes that the problems of the area are not easily solved, and urges nations and international agencies, notably HM Government, the EU and the United Nations, to work together to re-start negotiations. The problems in the Holy Lands are such that, if we hold back, are likely only to get worse.
All this is particularly pleasing because a document presented to the 2004 General Assembly, and remarks made last year by the outgoing Moderator, David Lacy, were so grossly dismissive of the terrorist threat to Israel that they moved me to describe the Kirk as institutionally anti-Semitic. If it is guided in future by the principles listed above, this charge can safely be withdrawn.
What I hope this indicates is that the churches contain a majority of people of goodwill who, though they may be temporarily swayed by the one-sided advocacy of a minority of leftist activists if it goes unchallenged, are nevertheless open to a more balanced perspective. Let's hope that proves to be true of NATFHE as well.