The Ausralian Council of Churches seem to have caught the bug – as described by Henry Benjamin in J-wire here..
The Council media release included the following:
“During its 7th triennial Forum last week, the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) announced it will continue to add its voice to the call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and condemning all acts of terrorism. In solidarity with Palestinian Christians, the NCCA asks its member Churches and the wider Australian community to consider a boycott of goods produced by Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Rev Tara Curlewis, General Secretary of the NCCA said “We are asking the member Churches of the NCCA to consider boycotting particular goods produced in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It is hoped that such actions will liberate the people from an experience of injustice to one where a just and definitive peace may be reached.”
ECAJ President Robert Goot’s responding letter (see the article) included:
“We are astounded that despite a long-standing dialogue partnership between our two organisations, and between our organisation and many of your constituents, you nevertheless saw fit to pass the above-mentioned resolution without giving us any notice whatsoever that you were proposing to do so, and without at least giving our community an opportunity to be heard on the matter as a part of your deliberations. It would defy credulity to suggest that these omissions were merely an oversight on your part. As recently as last month we exchanged correspondence with your President, the Most Reverend Michael Putney, in which we provided a detailed critique of a similar resolution which had been passed by Queensland Churches Together (again, without the slightest attempt having been made by them to hear the other side of the argument). At your written invitation, one of the ECAJ’s Vice Presidents, Dr Anita Shroot, attended the NCCA Forum on 10 July 2010 to convey a message of goodwill to our Christian friends on behalf of our organisation and the Jewish community. With the appearance at your forum of a representative of the Jewish community fresh in your memory, how could it not have occurred to you before passing the resolution in question to let us know what you were proposing to do and to give us an opportunity to be heard? Elementary fairness demanded no less. Try to imagine your own feelings if the situation had been reversed.
That brings me to the text of the resolution. I note that, inter alia, it calls on member churches of the NCCA to “consider” boycotting certain Israeli products. Asking people to “consider” an issue usually means asking them to weigh arguments both for and against a particular viewpoint. We therefore assume that you are encouraging member churches also to hear arguments against a boycott, and not only arguments in favour. In an article published yesterday, world-renowned Biblical scholar, Professor Amy-Jill Levine (see here), characterised the Kairos document, on which your resolution is expressly based, as “a failure of moral witness”. I would add that your resolution’s simplistic call for “an immediate end to the blockade” of Gaza, if implemented, would result in a renewal of weapons shipments to Gaza into the hands of Hamas which is committed to the destruction of Israel and the further shedding of blood, which will be on the hands of those who urge such a policy. Tara, we feel that we have been badly let down by people we have long thought of as our friends. The NCCA’s unthinking and ill-considered resolution has revived painful memories for Jews in Australia of earlier times in Europe when Churches allowed themselves to be swept up in the tide of popular prejudices against the Jewish people. I now formally request an opportunity to present a detailed critique of the resolution to the Executive of the NCCA and look forward to your early reply.”
While the reply from Robert Goot is a good one, one wonders how interested the Council truly is in dialogue.
The Australian Christians Supporting Israel organisation has its own salient perspective on the Council’s machinations.
The arguments follow in line with our recent posting of “Madness in some Methodists” where the Jewish Board of Deputies of Britain poked huge holes through the anti-Israel position.