Anger over ‘flawed’ Church Is­rael re­port

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY BEN WEICH

JEWISH COM­MU­NAL lead­ers have ex­pressed con­cern over a Church of Scot­land re­port mark­ing the cen­te­nary of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion.

The doc­u­ment, en­ti­tled Em­brac­ing Peace and Work­ing for Jus­tice, in­cludes a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing “the in­creased ex­pan­sion” of set­tle­ments on the West Bank, which, it ar­gued, made a two-state so­lu­tion to the Is­rael-Pales­tinian con­flict “in­creas­ingly un­re­al­is­tic”.

The Scot­tish Coun­cil of Jewish Com­mu­ni­ties (SCoJeC) ac­cused the Church of bias, point­ing out that it had failed to con­demn “Pales­tinian ter­ror­ism or Ha­mas’ in­sti­tu­tion­alised an­ti­semitism”.

SCoJeC said: “We are also con­cerned that the re­port ex­plic­itly casts doubt on the Church of Scot­land’s sup­port for a two-state so­lu­tion, de­spite this re­main­ing the agreed pol­icy of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, and with­out any sug­ges­tion of what might be a vi­able al­ter­na­tive.”

SCoJeC also claimed the re­port, which will be pre­sented to the Church’s gen­eral assem­bly next month, was over­re­liant on “selec­tive voices” which did not re­flect the re­al­ity of life in Is­rael.”

But Ephraim Borowski, the di­rec­tor of SCoJeC, praised the Church for con­sult­ing SCoJeC be­fore the re­port was pub­lished.

He said: “De­spite our se­ri­ous reser­va­tions, we have to wel­come the fact that they sought to con­sult with the Jewish com­mu­nity and made sig­nif­i­cant changes to the draft as a re­sult.”

Jonathan Arkush, the pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies, said the “deeply-flawed” doc­u­ment “be­trays the Church’s lack of bal­ance and un­con­cealed hos­til­ity to­wards Is­rael”. But the Church said the re­port ex­plored the implications of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion and sought “to un­der­stand the com­plex sit­u­a­tion in Is­rael/Pales­tine” to­day.

It in­sisted the doc­u­ment did not in­di­cate a move away from sup­port for a two-state so­lu­tion.

While the Church had not backed a boy­cott of Is­rael, it had heard “com­pelling ar­gu­ments both for and against this strat­egy”.

A spokesman said: “The rec­om­men­da­tions clearly state that we are ask­ing all church mem­bers to chal­lenge an­ti­semitism wher­ever it is found and com­mends all those com­mit­ted to non­vi­o­lence.”

Lord Bal­four, the au­thor of the Dec­la­ra­tion, was a mem­ber of the Church of Scot­land.

PHOTO: PA

The gen­eral assem­bly of the Church of Scot­land where the con­tro­ver­sial doc­u­ment will be pre­sented

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