The Jewish community and the Methodist church


July 12, 2010
richardmichaelkuper

jfjfpLetter to the editor of the Jewish Chronicle (unpublished)

Jews for Justice for Palestinians welcomes the Methodist Conference decision to approve the report ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’. We cannot understand your editorial attack on this decision, except as a thoughtless refusal to appreciate that other religious groups can have a principled objection to Israeli occupation and settlement of Palestinian land, without being at all anti-Semitic.

We believe that interfaith dialogue cannot be predicated on a refusal to recognise the rights of an occupied people. We are all aware that the implications of occupation are influencing ever more people within and outside the Jewish community. Increasing numbers of Jews are concluding that true peace and justice will only be delivered when we hear the cries of those under military yoke in the occupied territories. We hope and pray that the established community leadership will soon come to realise that supporting Israel ‘right or wrong’, contributes to their isolation from meaningful interfaith dialogue and serves neither justice nor peace.

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Richard Kuper also wrote in a personal capacity (since an official JfJfP letter had also been sent). This was published, much abridged – and was billed as being from JfJfP!

It read:

The Methodist conference should be congratulated for adopting its report ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’.

Palestine and Israel. Or can’t it be justice for Israel if illegal settlements are named as such and occupation is called by what it is in international law?

As for your headline, where is the ‘bad faith’ in the desire to uphold international law?

To paraphrase the words of the Board and the JLC, the Methodist Church decision has led me, a supporter of peace and reconciliation to cheer from the sidelines.

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The letter as sent read as follows:

The Methodist conference should be congratulated for adopting its report ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’.

So I read your lead story ‘How could Methodists act in such bad faith?’ (JC, 2 July 2010) with incredulity, as indeed I did your self-righteous, indignant editorial.

The alleged crime: ‘passing a policy which calls for a boycott of goods from “illegal” Israeli West Bank settlements and blam(ing) Israeli occupation as the “key hindrance” to Middle East peace.’

Jewish community elders seem incapable of distinguishing between disagreement and bad faith and would apparently appoint themselves gatekeepers as to what others think and say. I for one am quite happy to associate myself with the Methodist position.

I repeat: the report is called ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’. And Israel. Or can’t it be justice for Israel if illegal settlements are named as such and occupation is called by what it is in international law?

To whoever approved the JC headline to the article I ask: where is the ‘bad faith’ in the desire to uphold international law? And to whoever approved the subhead: “Fury at church’s ‘shameful’ anti-Israel motion”: why is calling for a boycott of goods from illegal settlements ‘anti-Israel’ rather than anti-occupation and pro the enforcement of international law?

I thought we took a special pride in the achievement of René Cassin and others in laying a broad framework for international law immediately after World War Two.

To paraphrase the words of the Board and the JLC, the Methodist Church decision has led me, a supporter ‘of peace and reconciliation to cheer from the sidelines’.

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