Does Israel have the balls to BDS the Methodists?
What can Israel Advocates do to preempt and punish a Methodist BDS resolution?
Let’s start with the obvious. However unlikely the Methodist Conference 2014 may decide in June to reject a motion to recommend BDS. It might even support the side that doesn’t persecute Christians. On the other hand pigs† might fly.
However in the real world, the most likely result is a sanctimonious condemnation of Israel, accepting every Palestinian charge as fact. They will loudly proclaim their neutrality but pass some form of boycott resolution that will allow them to present themselves as righteous without too much pain (or any pain) to themselves.
That has been the Methodist method for several years. If you have the stomach check out the Facebook page of the Methodist Liaison office in Jerusalem. Every post is an attack against Israel. They are emphatically not neutral.
The real question from a Zionist perspective is, what should we do before the conference and assuming the worst what should we do after?
My feeling is the conference won’t go as far as a full boycott, divestment, sanctions resolution. There are several reasons for that. Partly it is financial. Virtually every major company in the world has some Israeli connection that can be extended to the territories and too many Methodists have them in their share portfolio. Partly its practical. Giving up Israeli medicines, computers and mobile phones (or at least the parts that make them work), etc. would be too painful. But mostly because Israel and the Jews still have enough friends who won’t go along with what is effectively a declaration of war.
So they will go for something mealy·mouthed like a BDS on items from over the Green Line. Totally painless because little arrives in the United Kingdom that can be identified as specifically coming from there and nothing essential to modern life but a great opportunity to libel and delegitimise Israel. Israel Haters will declare it a great victory that will bring the occupation to its knees. The Methodists will declare it peacemaking in the Wesleyan tradition and support for the Jews who support BDS.
What can we do?
Write letters and op-eds which I think will be totally ignored by the conference? There are some excellent examples of the genre in Extra credit by Dexter Van Zile and Politically Incorrect Politics. More power to you if you can have them published in a media that Methodists, especially delegates with a vote actually read. Might I suggest trying to get them accepted in regional church journals in the UK?
Email everyone involved? My guess this is a lose-lose approach. The Church Leadership already know – they produced the briefing. Far from changing their minds they will feel threatened and harden their position, particularly if most come from non-believers in Methodism and/or Christianity. However should you wish to try there are a list of email and twitter address in Action Items.
Time to grow a pair
Encourage the Israeli Government to publicly refuse to renew their six-month visas.
If the Methodist Conference decides to support a boycott we should help them. It is a good bet that all Methodist representatives in Israel are neither citizens nor permanent residents. But they live and work here. Every drop they drink; every mouthful they eat; the roads they drive on; not to forget medicines, computers, phones, etc. are breaking a boycott resolution. Would that not be hypocrisy?
For best effect the announcement must be made the morning after the Methodist announcement. The liaison office could move to Ramallah if they choose or better still Hebron. Let them be missionaries there and see how the Palestinian victims of Israel show ‘Christian’ love.
There will be flack and unfortunately some will come from misguided Jews but no state has an obligation to tolerate foreigners whose major activity is its undermining. Nor does any state have an obligation to tourists who overstay their visas and their welcome.
Time to challenge the illegal occupation and settlement libel
By now we have heard all the arguments expressed in every court of opinion except the one that matters – the court of law. Apart from one advisory decision where Israel unwisely refused to defend itself and endless UN condemnations based on votes not law there is to my knowledge no real case law. ‘Illegal occupation’ is the ‘everbody-knows’ opinion but common-knowledge is commonly wrong.
Encourage the Israeli Department of Justice to challenge major governments to prove that Israeli policy is illegal. perhaps ask for an injunction in the British Court of Equity? Pick the field of combat rather than have it thrust upon us.
Yes, it is risky. A lawyer friend once told me to never underestimate the stupidity of a judge. On the other hand the longer we fail to take the initiative the longer groups like the Methodists will be able to claim that they are just trying to force Israel to obey the law.
- An Open Letter to Peter Tidey of the Methodist Church in Britain, Dexter Van Zile, The Algemeiner, 4 November 2013
- Committee re Divestment conclusion, Methodist Friends of Israel, 5 May 2014
- A briefing document for the Methodist people on the arguments for and against the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement, The Methodist Church, April 2014
- The Duplicity of the British Methodist Church, Barry Shaw, The View from Israel, 16 October 2013
- UK Methodists continue boycott of Israel, Jerry Lewis, Jerusalem Post, 4 May 2014
- An Open Letter to the British Methodist Church, Politically-incorrect Politics, 10 May 2014
- Write an email to the Church leadership urging them to refrain from adopting BDS as official policy.
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- Rev. Ruth Gee is the current President of the Conference. You can reach her on Twitter @ruthmgee. Appeal to her to reverse the church’s decision.
† Some Methodists have accepted, totally uncritically, the ridiculous accusation that Jewish settlers are raising/capturing pigs to destroy Palestinian agriculture. No accusation too extreme or too unconfirmed to be repeated. How do they know? A Palestinian told them.
‡ For some reason, although listed separately, I couldn’t find a single photograph of Brenda Awad without hubby Alex.