A Sweet Victory Against BDSThursday 19/05/2016

I would like to believe that most churches and Christian organizations, who buy into the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement against Israel, do not understand that they are embracing a campaign, which is driven by Islamic extremist ideology. The BDS campaign explicitly opposes the peace process and any dialogue with Israel. Anything short of the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East is unacceptable to its leaders. They have been saying for over a decade that until 5.5 million descendants of Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to Israel, causing the Jews to become a minority and Muslims to become the majority, thus annulling Jewish government; until 450,000 Jewish citizens are expelled from their homes in Judea and Samaria, the heartland of Israel; and until a one-state solution called “Palestine” is created, the world should divest from Israeli companies, boycott Israeli professors and sanction Israel in every way.

The BDS movement consistently portrays Israel as worse than Hamas. When an extreme Islamic dictatorial terrorist organization is constantly portrayed as better than a Jewish democracy, you can be sure that anti-Semitism, rather than Palestinian human rights, is actually driving the agenda. When Israeli Jewish professors are boycotted by European universities and Israeli Arab professors are not, you can be sure that anti-Semitism, rather than Palestinian human rights, is actually driving the agenda. When companies owned by Jewish Israelis undergo divestment and companies owned by Arab Israelis do not, you can be sure that anti-Semitism, rather than Palestinian human rights, is actually driving the agenda.

It is nothing less than a fiasco that major Christian movements around the world, including the World Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church in the US, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the United Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church, the Church of England and the United Church of Christ, have endorsed BDS, at least to the extent of boycotting products from companies active in Judea and Samaria. The Jerusalem Post published an article in April 2015 titled, “Israelis who Hate Israel and the Christians who Fund Them“, covering two Israeli organizations, BADIL and Zochrot, which actively delegitimize the Jewish state and promote the complete right of return for all descendants of Palestinian refugees. These organizations have multi-million dollar budgets, 93% of which are funded by Christian organizations.

Two months ago, on the 17th of March, I had the privilege to share this perspective with a group of leaders from the United Methodist Church (UMC) in African nations. These African church leaders, who represent a significant voting bloc in the General Conference of the UMC, came to Israel to gather information and learn first-hand from people advancing human rights in our region, what is actually happening on the ground. After I spoke with this group in Jerusalem and had a very lively Q&A session, they unanimously promised me that they would squash the initiative of their General Conference to support BDS. I am thrilled to see that these honorable leaders fulfilled their promise. In an historic reversal, the UMC General Conference decided last week to reject four BDS resolutions. Apparently, for the time being, the UMC’s pension fund will not invest in Israeli banks, a direct result of a 2012 decision to support BDS; nevertheless, the decision last week was a step in the right direction.

Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist News Service

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