Canada's Largest Protestant Church OK's BDS

By JTA

Published August 19, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Canada’s largest Protestant church has voted to boycott goods from Israel’s Jewish settlements.

Voting Aug. 17 on a final set of resolutions, members of the church’s governing General Council passed a measure to boycott products exported by Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in eastern Jerusalem.

The resolution calls on church members “to avoid any and all products produced in the settlements”; requests that the Canadian government ensure that “all products produced in the settlements be labeled clearly and differently from products of Israel”; and requests that products produced in the settlements “not be given preferential treatment under the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.”

Other resolutions relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict singled out the settlements as a principal obstacle to peace in the region; called on Israel to suspend settlement expansion; and expressed regret for previously asking Palestinians to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition to peace.

The resolutions relating to the Middle East were contained in a 29-page report released in May, angering many in the Jewish community and inflaming tensions between the two faith groups.

Previous United Church measures advancing economic sanctions against Israel failed because of inflammatory language. This time, the church stressed that the boycott was not directed against Israel proper but against “illegal” Jewish settlements.

Even so, seven hours of vigorous debate on both sides of the issue preceded the vote.

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, told the Toronto Star, “The only comments I’ve received so far are those advocating a complete severing of ties with the United Church.”

Fogel called the church’s approach “simplistic and uninformed. Palestinian suffering has its genesis in the rejection of the State of Israel, which the church has now voted to allow the Palestinians to continue.”

Details of how the boycott will be applied will be determined in the coming weeks and months, church officials said.

The church also chose as its new leader the Rev. Gary Paterson, who is known as a moderate. Paterson, who recently went on a two-month sabbatical in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said he is anxious to talk with Jewish leaders “about the plight of the Palestinian people in the settlements and also to recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel.”

“I think if you read the report rather than the headlines, you will see that there is a deep commitment we have always had to Israel and the Jewish people, and we recognize the existence of anti-Semitism and legitimate fears,” he told the QMI news agency.

In a statement, Avi Benlolo, head of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, said he fears “a relationship of trust and friendship is irreparably broken. I don’t know if church members truly understand how utterly offensive and imbalanced this proposal is, or whether a latent anti-Semitism within the church is slowly coming back to life.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.