Next Church to Shun Israel?: Anglican leaders following Presbyterians

Anglican Network Urges Sanctions on Israel: Report

24 Sept. 2004 |

London — Inspired by an earlier successful campaign against apartheid in South Africa, a leading international Anglican group has asked sanctions on Israel and a boycott of businesses there to protest the occupation of Palestinian lands, a leading British newspaper reported Friday, September 24.

The call by the influential Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) comes amid growing concern in Israel at rising support among churches, universities and trade unions in the west for a divestment campaign modelled on the popular boycott of apartheid South Africa, The Guardian said.

?There was no question that there has to be a very serious kind of sanction in order to get the world to see that at least one major church institution is taking very, very seriously its moral responsibility,? leader of the network, Jenny Te Pea, told the daily.

?It happened in South Africa, and in South Africa the boycott had an effect. Everybody said it wouldn’t work and it did work. So here we are taking on one of most wealthy and incredibly powerful nations, supported by the United States. That’s the Christian call,? she added.

Plight of Palestinians

APJN said it would press leaders of the 75 million Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide to impose sanctions on Israel after an eight-day visit to the occupied territories.

APJN is a recognized network of the Anglican Communion and is made up of representatives from each Anglican Province.

Te Paa said the delegation from Anglican churches across the globe was so shocked by the plight of the Palestinians, including the construction of the concrete and steel wall through the West Bank, that there was strong support for a boycott.

The network is to recommend the boycott to the church’s decision-making body, the Anglican consultative council, in Wales, in June, The Guardian reported.

The group will also make the case that divestment is a ?moral imperative? to a meeting of Anglican archbishops in London in February.

Te Paa believes the network had influence within the Anglican community and that she believed the consultative council would agree to a boycott of Israel.

In July, the general assembly of the Presbyterian church in the United States, which has 3 million members, voted overwhelmingly for a boycott of Israel. Some Scandinavian churches are also pressing for a boycott of Israeli goods.

More Boycotts

The British daily also referred to other world-wide popular boycotts of Israel.

Israel is increasingly concerned about the prospect of this and recognizes growing support among some religious organizations, and in the academic world and trade unions, for organized action against the occupation, according to the British daily.

British academics had launched a campaign for a boycott of Israeli universities, drawing a furious reaction, including accusations of anti-Semitism.

Supporters of the protest say the Israeli occupation, including military checkpoints and curfews, places great restrictions on Palestinians’ academic freedom.

Dozens of professors at prestigious American universities, including Princeton and Harvard, have signed a petition calling for an end to US military aid to Israel and for their universities to divest from firms doing business there.

Among the targets would be Israeli products such as fruit, shops that do business there and companies such as Caterpillar, which sells the bulldozers used by the army to destroy Palestinian homes.

?I hope that even by mentioning that we could call for this it would serve as an invitation for dialogue with the Israeli government,? said Ms Te Paa.

?If it doesn’t happen I think divestment can mean anything from having the list of stores [to boycott] to very significant withdrawal of investment from Israel.?

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