Overwhelming vote by Scotland's largest Church against Christian Zionism and silence of Christian churches, for Palestinian Right of Return. This will give major impulse to BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) generally.
The Inheritance of Abraham: revised report debated
The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly today, May 23, debated a revised version of its report, 'The Inheritance of Abraham?'
Presenting the report Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council said: “This is primarily a report highlighting the continued occupation by the state of Israel and the injustices faced by the Palestinian people as a consequence. It is not a report criticising the Jewish people. Opposing the unjust policies of the state of Israel cannot be equated to anti-Semitism. “
The revised report was overwhelmingly accepted by the General Assembly., Mrs Foster-Fulton said: “The on-going conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been an issue close to the heart of the Church of Scotland – we have a long relationship with the region and have many friends there.
“The Church has kept on thinking about ways we can contribute to a just and peaceful solution. The report we bring to this year’s Assembly has already caused no small amount of controversy. The Church and Society Council has learned a great deal from dialogue with Jewish community which followed the initial release of the report.
“We would like to thank members of the Jewish community who sat down with us and were gracious in their concern. We present a revised version today with a preface that sets the report more in context. While acknowledging that some of the original language, on reflection, was misguided, I want to affirm that the report remains robust. It offers new insights – ones that have come through the experience of those suffering the continuing injustices of occupation. I look forward to the debate and, I hope, to continuing discussion after today exploring the issues and ideas brought forward in the report.”
Full report & analysis at : www.scottishpsc.org.uk
The Church also reaffirmed their view that the present situation in Israel/Palestine "is characterised by an inequality in power" and that Israel's blockade of Gaza and illegal military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem must end before reconciliation is possible.
Delegates further stressed that the human rights of all peoples should be respected and that "this should include the right of return and/or compensation for Palestinian refugees".
The Church and Society Council report, The Inheritance of Abraham? A report on the 'promised land', was condemned by the Israeli ambassador to the UK when it was first published earlier this month. The conclusions of the revised report presented to the General Assembly were unchanged from the original, while adding introductory remarks and a reaffirming of the Kirk's rejection of racism and religious hatred.
Dr Bernard Sabella of the Middle East Council of Churches, based in Jerusalem, a delegate to the Church of Scotland General Assembly, called the Church of Scotland report "a wake-up call". Rev Na'el Abu Rahmoun of the Diocese of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East explained to the General Assembly how Palestinian citizens of Israel face systematic discrimination, and said "we are about 1.5 million, Christians and Muslims together" who are "considered maybe second or third class citizens".
A motion to effectively remit the report until 2014 was overwhelmingly rejected by delegates who agreed instead to promote the widest discussion of the report and its conclusions throughout the local committees of the Church and beyond.
General Assembly delegates also endorsed the Church and Society Council General Report which notes and encourages debate around the Iona Call 2012, a response to Kairos Palestine that endorses the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and other forms of non-violent direct action.
Iona Community member Eurig Scandrett said that the Church of Scotland "has not been afraid to speak truth to power – the truth that Israel's claims to Palestinian land is unjustifiable theologically or ethically. Israel's credibility has just been dealt a major blow".
Fiona Napier, Chair of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, welcomed the General Assembly decisions, saying that "The Israeli government needs to know that Scottish civil society, including our trade unions and churches, refuse to be complicit in their crimes against the Palestinian people and, as we see the situation for Palestinians worsen, we will find and take more effective action in support of Palestinian rights".