Sunday, August 19, 2012

A vote at the United Church of Canada: the tip of a Jewish iceberg?

On Friday, August 17, 2012, the United Church of Canada passed an anti-Israel boycott resolution at its triennial General Council Conference.  After failing to get a boycott vote passed at the 2006 and 2009 Conferences, Church leaders have finally succeeded. Unlike previous efforts, however, this  vote does not require a complete boycott; it focuses only on products made in ‘West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements’.
 Already, the Church stands accused of developing its case against Israel by distorting fact ( August 17, 2012). For example, the Church blames Israel exclusively for ‘violence’ in the Middle East and identifies Israel as an ‘occupier’ because it ‘captured territories’ in the 1967 six-day war (National Post, August 17, 2012). The resolution ignores the facts that much of this ‘territory’ had been granted to Israel by the United Nations in 1947, had been conquered and occupied by Jordan in a 1947-48 war of Arab aggression against Israel, and was then finally liberated by Israel in 1967 during a war of self-defense. The Church singles out Israel as the only party in the Middle East solely responsible for peace.
There is no question this vote will be attacked. It is, after all, exclusively one-sided in identifying who should be punished for holding up peace. Someone will certainly call this boycott Church-inspired  anti-Semitism (JTA, August 17, 2012). For those who believe in interfaith dialogue, this vote could be a death-blow to Canadian interfaith relations (see The Globe and Mail, August 17-18, 2012).
But there is another way to look at this conversion of Religious moral authority into anti-Semitic  politics-in-the-name-of-religion. The Jewish Tanach (our Bible) describes what will happen when the Destiny of the Jewish people is fulfilled; one of the ‘finalizing events’ is to be a universal recognition that the G-d of Israel is, alone, One and Supreme.
Have you ever wondered how that could happen? Why would non-Jews become motivated to call the G-d of Israel the only true G-d? Other religions have their own gods and religious narrative. What would cause people to turn against their gods?
While we do not have answers to those questions, we might be able to intuit how that scenario might unfold because we can sense a stage being set today for a non-Jewish religious upheaval.
The United Church of Canada (UCC) is a case in point—but not the only case. The UCC may be the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, but its membership has been declining, its finances are in crisis—and its vote against Israel may suggest a potentially disastrous disconnect with rank-and-file membership. It has been reported that less than five per cent of Church membership believe that Israel is the major obstacle to peace in the Middle East (Jerusalem Post), and yet the leadership not only passed its boycott plan, but also another resolution that expresses regret for previously asking Palestinians to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state (The Globe and Mail, August 17-18, 2012). The UCC has been pursuing a Leftist political agenda since perhaps the 1960s, and that activism has been credited with sparking a membership loss than continues today (The Globe and Mail, ibid).  According to two students of Church activity, Church membership could reach zero by 2040—an assessment that is probably more suggestive than correct, but is nonetheless a significant comment about the Church’s future potential (National Post, August 16, 2012;, ibid). As the Church turns against Israel, it also turns increasingly to social and political agendas that eclipse its core theological beliefs (The National Post, ibid). In other words, its votes against Israel may be just one more step towards a bankruptcy that could be more than financial.
One month before the UCC vote, An Anglican Church of England Synod endorsed a ‘Programme in Palestine and Israel’ that used language which, at least according to one observer, ‘evoked nothing but simple anti-Semitic themes from history’ (, July 12, 2012).
In October 2010, a Synod of the Catholic Church attacked Israel in a more serious manner. Not only did it use similar ‘occupation’ language to characterize Israel, it went further: the Bishop who led the Synod declared that Jews are no longer G-d’s Chosen, and Israel is no longer connected to Jews (CBN News, October 25, 2010).
These events suggest that the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church have successfully created a major Christian offensive against Israel and, indirectly, Jews. Even if their individual attacks are purely coincidental, they still, taken together, represent a Christian attack endorsed by Church leadership.
But while this is indeed unfortunate, what will the world’s Christians say when the G-d of Israel works open miracles for Israel? How will they respond to their Church’s openly anti-Jewish/anti-Israel pronouncements? What will happen when they compare the visible actions of the G-d of Israel against the official anti-Israel positions of their Church?
Is it possible that this official behaviour of these Christian denominations is unwittingly  paving the way to a religious upheaval that will in turn lead to a universal recognition that the G-d of Israel is indeed the One True Supreme—and that His Israel is truly His beloved?
Stay tuned.

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