Palestinian rights deserve Anglican action
Ben White, the Guardian, Comment is Free, 21 May 2009
At the 14th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting, held in Jamaica earlier this month, a resolution on the Middle East was passed, criticising the Israeli occupation. An original version of the resolution was originally submitted by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN), but as the language was felt by some to be too “strong”, a new resolution was put forward and adopted…
The original wording submitted by APJN had been specifically criticised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who took particular issue with “a section that ‘condemns the judaisation of the city (of Jerusalem) by the government of Israel”. The Archbishop was reported as saying that “judaisation is a word that I cannot, in conscience, accept”, since “it equates ‘the political machinations of the Israeli government’ with the people of faith in Jewish society”.
That there is a deliberate policy of judaisation in Jerusalem is not a secret in Israel; politicians and policy-makers routinely talk of strengthening the “Jewish character” of the city (and other areas too for that matter).
So in fact then, while Williams is right to critique the conflation of the Israeli state’s policies with “people of faith in Jewish society”, his target should be that very same Israeli state which in the name of Jews worldwide maintains a regime of racial exclusion.
The archbishop’s other concern, according to the same report, was to avoid saying anything in such as a way as to “jeopardise the Anglican Communion’s dialogue with the Rabbinate”. This was a worry also taken up by others, including the coordinator of the Anglican Communion Office’s Network for Interfaith Concerns, who helped produce the alternative resolution that was eventually passed.
The Anglican Church has trodden an uneasy path in recent years when it comes to words and actions on Israel/Palestine. Despite recommendations by the APJN to pursue divestment as means of opposing Israel’s occupation, this has never been followed through.
While many individual church members and ministers across the worldwide communion are active in working for a just peace in the Middle East, the senior leadership is typically shy of going much beyond hand-wringing statements of sorrow and “even-handed” reproach…