PRESS RELEASE: United Church Decision on Boycott Outrages Jewish Community and Betrays its own Membership

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is outraged by today’s decision by the United Church of Canada to single out Israeli communities for boycott.  The Centre is equally offended by the Church’s expression of regret for previously calling for Palestinian recognition of Israel’s Jewish character.  This decision represents a radical shift in the United Church’s policies, betrays the views of the vast majority of its members, and flies in the face of decades of constructive interfaith dialogue.

An independent survey commissioned by the Centre in partnership with a grassroots group within the United Church, Faithful Witness, dramatically demonstrated the extent to which the new policy is at odds with the views of the Church’s congregants.  The survey was shared with all Church clergy and with Commissioners at this General Council; a copy of the results is included below.  The Church’s decision to support boycott in full knowledge of these survey results confirms the extent to which this decision was driven by narrow ideology rather than by a desire to faithfully represent the views of the membership.

“In choosing this morally reckless path, the United Church has equally dismissed the concerns of the overwhelming majority of the Canadian Jewish community. No mainstream Jewish organization, including Canadian Friends of Peace Now, endorses Boycott. Even the leadership of the American left-wing group J-Street has publicly condemned boycotts as counterproductive,”said David Koschitzky, Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

“Support for the boycott tactic is limited to a small fringe.  Tragically, the UCC chose to join that fringe, rather than listen to the nearly 100,000 families who are members of Jewish Federations across Canada, and on whose behalf the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs speaks.  The Church equally ignored some 70 Canadian Rabbis of all streams and from every province, representing tens of thousands of Canadian Jewish families, who made their opposition known in writing.

“In adopting this position, the United Church has rejected the path of balance, and has chosen to explicitly ally itself with those who formally reject the two-State solution and who deny the historical right of the Jewish people to a homeland. In so doing, they have damaged the Church’s standing amongst Canadians and have profoundly compromised the UCC’s ability to play any constructive role in making a positive impact for peace,” said Koschitzky.

To see the results of a survey of United Church members commissioned by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and in partnership with Faithful Witness, a grassroots group of United Church clergy and members, click here