Before beginning discussions, commissioners heard from the working
group, chaired by former moderator Very Rev. David Giuliano and members
Rev. Thom Davies and Rev. Barbara White. The group held wide
consultations and visited Israel-Palestine last year. Davies also spent
three months volunteering for a World Council of Churches accompaniment
project in a small Palestinian village in the West Bank. He was blunt
about what he saw.
“In Yanoun, I witnessed the theft of land . . . theft of water . . . and the consequences of settler violence,” he told commissioners, explaining the group’s decision to back a boycott. “The logic is very simple. . . . Settlements have been deemed illegal under international law. So to buy settlement products would be to buy stolen property.”
Commissioners also heard from two interfaith guests.
Dr. Victor Goldbloom, chair of the Canadian Christian-Jewish Consultation, admitted settlements are “a problem that needs to be resolved,” but spoke out against the proposed boycott. He says the approach to seeking peace in the region needs to address “two grave imbalances in the Middle East,” citing hatred against Jews being taught in schools and mosques, and “an imbalance in the value placed on human life” between Palestinians and Israelis.
Ramzi Zananiri, a Palestinian who works for the Middle East Council of Churches, used statistics and data on the growth of West Bank settlements to illustrate what he called a “policy of humiliation and subjugation of Palestinians with total control of their resources.” He urged commissioners to back the boycott as “active solidarity toward righteousness and justice, with the hope for an equitable and just peace and security for both people in Israel and Palestine.”
Discussion of the report and its proposals will continue on day five.
If you enjoy reading our online stories about ethical living, justice and faith, please make a donation to the Friends of The Observer Fund. Supporting our award-winning journalism will help you and others to continue to access ucobserver.org for free in the months to come.