Methodist Church’s boycott of Israeli goods

by Richard on October 15, 2010

There’s a letter in the Church Times today that puts the case against David Hallam’s legal action as clearly as I’ve seen it anywhere. Unfortunately it is sitting behind a paywall and I’m not sure I should quote it all. However, there’s one point which I haven’t seen anywhere else:

First, we are enjoined in the New Testament not to take fellow Christians to law, but to settle mat­ters among ourselves. There are many parallels between the Israel-Palestine situation and the struggle against apartheid, and Mr Hallam’s initiative reminds me of when the Methodist Church was taken to court by another local preacher for contributing to the World Council of Churches’ (WCC’s) Programme to Combat Racism.

In that situation, eventually, everyone saw the light and became anti-apartheid, and that brother was as mistaken as Mr Hallam is in terms of understanding what is really going on in a context where the oppressors have a very well-funded and effective public-relations operation.

The petition* is going pretty well I think, though never having done anything like this before I’m not sure how to judge it. I wouldn’t agree with everything that’s been put in the comments, but there are some strong and worthwhile points being made.

Update: The letter in the Church Times can now be read in full online. It’s worth it.

* I’ve taken the petition down now, but you can read it here (pdf).

Sorry. I was too hasty. The petition remains.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }


Chris H 10.15.10 at 12:35 pm

The Irish Left Review has a story about a number of trials lined up in France at the moment where the state is seeking to prosecute individuals who have been promoting the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against the illegal settlements and their produce.

Perhaps David is getting his encouragement from there.


Methiodist Preacher 10.15.10 at 12:51 pm

Now that’s an interesting - and helpful - headline:

“Methodist Church’s boycott of Israeli goods”


Richard 10.16.10 at 12:37 am

But the boycott is of Israeli goods — from the illegal settlements. But you’re right. “Settlement goods” would have been better.


Kim 10.16.10 at 10:02 am

“Methiodist” - is David starting a Methodist sect?


Richard 10.16.10 at 5:37 pm

It wouldn’t be the first time that there’s been a split over an i


Kim 10.16.10 at 5:45 pm

Funny, I was thinking of referring to homoousia/homoiousia controversy. It was, of course, the Arians who added the iota - and became the heretics.


Richard 10.17.10 at 12:07 am

Great minds again , Kim. :)


Earl 10.19.10 at 2:27 pm

“Methodist Church’s boycott of Israeli goods” … very apt. The products being boycotted are produced in Israel. The boycott is aimed at the nation of Israel. Excuses to the contrary are simply excuses.

Only Israel has legitimate claim to the land of Israel. Israelis hold the land of Israel by the clear promise of God. It is their right as the descendants of Isaac. Today Israel maintains its possession of the land of Israel by the effective force of its armed services. Otherwise, the surrounding Arab nations would have long ago overwhelmed them. Those who seek to take that land and those who support them are exactly equivalent with those who once worked so very hard to maintain South African apartheid against the interest and rights of those whose claims were for so long ignored by those whose colonial interest profited from that unjust political structure.

Israel is a stick in the eye of Arab nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism as it refuses to politely accommodate itself to the demands of those who have sworn themselves to and waged unjust warfare to bring about its ultimate and final destruction. Israel is a rock in the shoe of old Europe as it struggles to come to terms with the political inconvenience of a free and independent Israel that they are powerless to subject and which refuses to submit to their collective continental interest.


Richard 10.19.10 at 4:21 pm

It’s apt, because it is indeed a boycott of Israeli goods. But not *all* Israeli goods. Only those produced in the illegal settlements.


dh 10.19.10 at 4:36 pm

But Richard not all settlements in the West Bank are “illegal”. When one says “illegal” one must not use ones own predisposition just because one doesn’t support any Israeli settlements whatsoever. If one says all Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal that is in fact wrong and knowing that happens to be the view of the boycotters I therefore condemn the boycott on those grounds.

Earl, great response and that too are other reasons it isn’t “apt”.


Earl 10.19.10 at 9:26 pm

In this case, “illegal” is in the eye of those Arab and European nations who find themselves staring at the sharp end of a Israeli stick. The only thing necessary for them to have peace is to cease waging war. If and when they cease to threaten Israel, they will have peace. Until then Israel is well advised to remember what the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared!”

Now who might possibly be qualified to determine legalities of any sort touching upon nation states? The UN? Since when has the UN ever demonstrated itself ready to do more than write a postscript to the action of nations? The only time the UN acts is when the recipient of its attention has no significant capacity to react in a way that will directly threaten the convenience of a member state. The UN acts boldly… except where it must tread lightly out of concern for undesirable reactions. With regard Israeli control of Israeli land, the opinion of the UN is underwhelming.

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