Letter to the National Post

The letter below I wrote to the National Post (with a copy to B’nai Brith, bien sur) in response to the full-page ad they placed in today’s paper (page A10).

We can expect to see many more media items on the subject of the ad in the next short while–from various sectors of the Jewish community, the Christian community and society in general: that subject being the proposals (related to the boycott of products from the illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine and misleadingly labelled “Made in Israel”) which will be coming to the General Council (triennial national meeting) of the United Church, to be held in Ottawa August 11-18.

A critical point, which I make in my letter, but which cannot be repeated too often: no proposal for a boycott of all Israeli products will be debated, but only proposals to boycott products from the illegal settlements.

I will be paying close attention to the GC debates, and I expect to post two or three updates about the boycott proposals while the GC is in session. Stay tuned!

*A follow-up. Got a reply August 6 from the Letters editor saying that they don’t print letters written in response to paid advertizing.  Hmmm: something to keep an eye on.

*

Re: B’nai Brith ad, August 4.

The ad from B’nai Brith, the one with the cucumbers, misrepresents what the United Church’s Middle East working group is proposing. In stating that the proposal advocates the boycott of “Israeli goods that come from Jewish communities throughout Israel,” it blurs the distinction between Israel proper and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The United Church has no quarrel with products of Israel itself marked “Made in Israel.” What it objects to is the products of the illegal settlements in occupied Palestine being marked “Made in Israel” instead of “Made in Occupied Palestine.”

And ignoring Christians oppressed in the Middle East? A red herring. The United Church is deeply concerned with the well-being of Middle East Christians, as its record shows. The ad simply makes this claim to deflect attention from the illegal settlements. The reference to anti-semitism has the same disingenuous purpose.

I have read the report of the working group, and it is clear in that report that the United Church is concerned for the well-being of Israel as well as of Palestine. What it opposes is the occupation of Palestine by Israel, with all its accompanying exploitation. It calls Israel, in fact, to live up to the teaching of its own ethical teachers, the biblical prophets.

Donald Grayston, Vancouver

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