United Church of Canada to debate boycott, divestment, and sanctions for Israel

By Omar Barghouti and Sid Shniad

For several decades, the world has watched in frustration as the crisis in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory deepened. Confused by the details of what is alleged to be a highly complicated situation and loathed to be attacked for criticizing Israel lest they be vilified as anti-Semites, people who would otherwise be expected to play an active role in striving for an end to Israel’s occupation, colonization, and system of discrimination in accordance with international law have chosen to focus their attention elsewhere.

In recent years, however, this state of affairs has begun to change dramatically as a growing number of activists and intellectuals—including members of the Jewish communities in the West, who could once be counted upon by Israel to be either unquestioning supporters or silent in their acquiescence to its actions—have begun to find their voice on this matter. For example, it has recently surfaced that, consistent with its long tradition of engaging on matters of social justice, the United Church of Canada plans to debate its own version of a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution at its national conference, set for Kelowna in August.

The fact that Israel’s decades-old oppression of the indigenous people of Palestine defies the fundamental notions of justice and respect of the rule of law has informed this gradual transformation of people of conscience advocating social justice everywhere. The most recent scenes of Israeli jets and heavy armour mounting savage attacks on defenceless civilian populations—first in Lebanon in 2006, and then in Gaza at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009—compounded a growing perception among international civil society of Israel as a pariah state that is flouting international law and basic human rights with utter impunity.

There is a growing understanding of the fundamental issues that drive the crisis: the occupation of Palestinian land by Zionist Jews claiming a right to do so by virtue of an alleged historical-Biblical entitlement; the expulsion of masses of Palestinians from their homeland—first by Zionist militias and later the state of Israel—at the time of Israel’s establishment; the legalized and institutionalized discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the ongoing military occupation and colonization of Palestinian and other Arab lands conquered in 1967.

As a result, a long-overdue determination has arisen in the ranks of civil society around the world, a determination to take concrete steps to generate tactics and strategies to bring a satisfactory resolution to this ongoing crisis by addressing its root causes. One of the most important manifestations of this new determination is the rise of an international movement endorsing the non-violent, morally consistent, universalist strategy of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the state of Israel to compel it to comply with the international law and human rights principles. The struggle against apartheid in South Africa was one of the key inspirations behind this quickly spreading movement.

As expected, the prevailing Zionist response to this development has been a vitriolic denunciation of the individuals and organizations involved and a sustained attempt to bully them into silence. This usually involves an ascription of anti-Semitism as the motive for such action. In April 2009, however, when Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) joined the growing number of organizations endorsing BDS to promote a just peace based on international law, the Zionist establishment chose to ignore the development—presumably because Jews endorsing the strategy strongly challenged the false notion of a monolithic Jewish voice in support of Zionism and Israel. From the Zionists’ perspective, engaging IJV on the subject would focus attention on the underlying substantive issues and neutralize their most powerful tools: brow beating and intimidation. Zionist organizations continue to use intimidation in dealing with non-Jewish critics of Israel, however. As was to be expected, they have aimed their big guns at the United Church, attributing all sorts of vile motives to it for even considering a BDS resolution.

We urge the United Church to ignore this thinly veiled smear campaign and to join this global movement in the pursuit of sustainable peace based on freedom, equality, and universal justice.

Omar Barghouti is a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Sid Shniad is a co-chair of Independent Jewish Voices Canada.



Nuru A. Ndile

Aug 1, 2009 at 1:39am

Yes Mr. Omar Barghouti and Sid Shniad,
Your comments as you can see even yourself are one sided. you look much on what Israel is doing to Palestinians, you don't even talk about rockets fired by what you see innocent palestinians on innocent civilians of Israel leaving alone suicide attacks in Israel. Moreover, you seem not to recognize Israel as a state, but when there was a state of Palestine? who was the president of Palestinian State?
Some times it become very difficulty to engage in peae talks if you are one sided, Iran is advocating to wip off Israel the world map, I think to you this will be good but that can't be a good way to advocate for peace.
So please try to look on both sides of the coins before you advocate peace, otherwise your comment are hipocryce comment.

chaim melamed

Aug 1, 2009 at 4:36am

Totally one-sided article so fit for the trashbin or to show students how not to write an article.


Aug 1, 2009 at 9:49am

for a short examination of biblical justification for murder,rape slavery etc. check out www.evilbible.com. this is why isreal thinks the way it does


Aug 2, 2009 at 8:23pm

This garbage by Omar and Sid is the same old tired left wing, pro Muslim slop that just won't go away. These two and their supporters obviously are in denial of history. The evidence is overwhelming that this contested land was under Jewish control back thousands of years ago. Who were the people taken into captivity after their defeat by King Nebukaneezer of Babylon in 586BC. The kingdom of Palestine? Hardly. It was Israel. And these Jews were warned by their prophets years earlier that if they didn't turn away from there evil ways God would allow their enemies to destroy them.Daniel cried when God told him that he would not live to see his land again. This is found in the Holy Bible that Christians are expected to view as the true inspired word of God. How many people in the United Church who consider themselves Christians are going to vote in favour of this vicious one sided attack against the country that the Bible refers to as God's wife and that Bible prophecy fortold would become a nation again.


Aug 3, 2009 at 5:05pm

the title of this article should be two well known anit-Israel speakers support a well known human rights violator Church.
The United Church has no moral ground in the world after what they did to our own Native people here in Canada. Just look at how aboriginal people live in Canada today. Instead of trying to support so called "resolutions" to achieve peace in the Middle east they should do right and support the self determination of Aboriginal people. Something they stole from them many years ago. Shame on you United Church


Aug 6, 2009 at 11:44am

first these two must get historical facts straight and not lie as they do in the quise of truth. the land never belonged to any Arab nation at any time in history. Jordan is a creation of a state that was done by the British to satisy an evicted tirbal memeber from Saudi Arabia. Likewise Syria and Lebanon are created states in the 20th century that did not exist before. Yet these two maintain their silence re the Syrian take over of Lebanon and the Hisbullah takeover now.

The international law of occupation must be put out for all to see and just referred to as these two know they are lying or ignorant (the latter usually(. There is no mention of the Six Day War whereby Israel was invaded by six Arab nations. Nor of the War of Indpendance that was declared by many Arab states against the UN (which did nothing then and has done nothing whenever Israel was attacked by her Arab neighbours. The mistake ISrael made was not to annex Yehuda and Shomron and all other territory including the Dome of the Rock area.

Unfortunately those Jews who now join the ranks of the anti semites - yes that rterm again because they never make mention of the N American Indians plight from the occupation by whites and the Church, they never make mention of the mioons slaughtered by muslims in Africa. they never make mention of the introduction of suicide bombing, plane hijackings etc by those peace loving Arabs (we will ignore the insane promise of 70-80 virgins waiting if you kill yourself) who have recked havoc with nations all over the world. So before this kind of crap gets into a newspaper, maybe the editors should do their homework before letting anyone spout off their hatred.


Aug 8, 2009 at 7:56am

EvilBible.com is Dead

Large portions of evilbible.com have been considered, dissected and declared fallacious on very many levels.

Two examples of this fact are as follows:

Whilst besmirching the Bible for allegedly commanding rape evilbible.com, for some odd reason, neglects to mention the most relevant biblical text related to the biblical view of and law about rape. Why this omission? Who knows, but it would certainly have gotten in the way of a good session of emotive expression of prejudice-it would have discredited evilbible.com to reference this most important text. Indeed, those annoying little facts have an annoying way of getting in the way of good fallacious assertions.

Whilst besmirching the Bible for allegedly commanding human sacrifice evilbible.com, for some odd reason, neglects to mention that the Bible does not command but condemns human sacrifice. Evilbible.com, for some odd reason, neglects to mention that when the Bible reports that human sacrifices did take place they were carried out by Gentile Pagans who were not worshiping the God of the Bible but various false gods. When "Jews" were performing human sacrifices it was only when they turned away from the God of the Bible and joined Gentile Pagans in worshiping various false gods. Yet, in typical militant activist atheist fashion, evilbible.com does not condemn Gentile Pagans but only condemns the Jews.

Further evidence of this is found at this URL: