It's been a while since I last blogged, but the Board of Deputies has just sent round a request for our help and I need your support:
The Methodist Church of Britain has launched a consultation “to gather a range of perspectives” on the topic of "Israel and Palestine" as a result of a resolution passed at its annual conference in June. Sadly, the consultation is entirely framed around the question of Boycotts, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
The Board of Deputies has been in constant communication with the Methodist leadership and met with them this week to set out our very strong concerns and disappointment with the entire premise and process behind the consultation, and the report that will be produced for its 2014 conference as a result. On a more positive note, the Methodist Church has agreed to explore, as alternatives to BDS, giving support to projects that build bridges and support peace. It is important that the Methodist conference is given this alternative course of action to BDS and we shall do everything possible to bring this about.
As we have been presented with the opportunity to express our views on BDS it is important to respond to the invitation in a reasoned and well thought out manner. The final report that will be presented to the Methodist conference will not have any recommendations, only a summary of the arguments in favour and against boycotts.
Please participate in the consultation - we need pro-Israel voices to be heard. And the Board's office will give all the assistance and advice it can in helping you respond to the Methodist consultation.
In practical terms:
- This is an open consultation, meaning any person – whether a Methodist or not - can contribute towards it.
- It is open to individuals as well as organisations to respond.
- The Methodist Church's information on the consultation is here
- The responses need to be submitted online here
- All responses must be completed by 8:00 am on Monday 4 November.
How should people respond?
You may not want to fill in the entire consultation form - which you may feel is long, loaded and skewed. However, you can still play your part - for example, by making a statement in response to question 1 and then answering "see above" to the following questions. An alternative approach is to simply fill in your answer under the ‘any further comments’ section. It is important that the Methodist Church is aware of the number of people who find this discourse unacceptable - so everyone who feels able should please respond in some way.
Key Arguments to make
- The fundamental problem with the entire framework of this consultation which is one-sided and skewed.
- That boycotts are divisive and do not assist with the prospects of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. On the contrary they perpetuate one-sided narratives and encourage intransigence which makes reconciliation even harder.
- A boycott of Israel harms both Israelis and Palestinians.
- The true impact on the lives of many, including in the UK, of boycotting Israeli technological and medical advancements.
- That boycotts ultimately target the people not the government. An academic boycott would discriminate against individuals restricting academic freedom and growth through discussion and the sharing of ideas. It would discriminate against people because of their nationality, irrespective of their views.
- The impact of a boycott on the UK Jewish community.
- That the Methodists should instead invest in positive peace-building initiatives that bring Israelis and Palestinians together.
Please do use the opportunity we have been offered to tell the Methodist Church what we feel about BDS. Once again, the Board's office is here to help if you need it. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
With your strong help we may be able to demonstrate how ill-conceived is the BDS movement and make a real difference.