Helping the Methodists with their Israel boycott questionnaire

The UK Methodists have put out a questionnaire to help them construct a briefing on the arguments for and against boycotting Israel. As the deadline looms we offer some help

by the commentator on 30 October 2013 07:12

British Methodists have until November 4, to complete a questionnaire on what they think about BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) against Israel. We thought we'd offer a bit of help. Here are the questions with our answers underneath them and in italics:

The wider context around Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

1. What do you understand to be the motivation/inspiration behind the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in relation to Israel?

Ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry.

2. In your view, what would be the essential elements of any peace agreement in Israel/Palestine? 

The Palestinians would need to end decades of rejectionism. They must finally accept the legitimacy of the Jews' right to self-determination in their historic homeland. With that enormous obstacle out of the way, other matters can be the subject of reasonable compromise.

Boycotts

3. Do you support a boycott of products produced within Israeli settlements?

No. Do you support a boycott of products made in Northern Ireland, another disputed territory, or in Cyprus, or in...etc etc?

4. Do you support the call for a wider consumer boycott of all Israeli products?

No

5. If you answer 'Yes' to Question 4, what changes would you need to see to be content to end your boycott? 

If one has answered "yes" to question 4, the only thing that would make anyone content to end their boycott would be the complete destruction of the Jewish state, which is what BDS is ultimately about

6. What are the arguments against a consumer boycott of all Israeli products? What are the risks?

The main argument against a boycott of all Israeli products is that it is bigotry pure and simple. It specifically singles out the state of the Jews. This would be unacceptable at any time, but as the Egyptian coup leaders shoot opponents on the streets and Assad's Syria continues to massacre people, it is nothing short of obscene.

7. If you do not support the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, could you ever see yourself supporting such a call in the future? Under what circumstances? 

No. None.

8.  What message does the call for a consumer boycott of Israel communicate to the general public? (please specify whether you are answering with reference to the public in the UK, in Israel, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or elsewhere)

To the public in the UK, it communicates the message that discrimination and prejudice against the world's only Jewish state is perfectly acceptable. In Israel it communicate the message that Europe has learned nothing from its past. In the disputed territories Palestinians will be in two minds: On the one hand, many Palestinians depend on Israel for jobs; sanctions would hurt them too. On the other hand, the general mood among Palestinians is that they support anything that harms Israel.

9. Do you support an academic boycott of Israel? Please explain your reasoning.

No. Again, singling out Israel for a boycott is plainly discriminatory. It is bigotry. It is also reminiscent of the Nazis. You may want to reflect on that.

10. Do you support a cultural boycott of Israel? Please explain your reasoning. 

See the previous answer.

Divestment

11. Under what circumstances, if any, should the Methodist Church divest from companies operating in Israel? 

Under no circumstances whatsoever.

Sanctions

12. Should the UK government or European Union impose trade or other restrictions on economic relationships with Israel or alternatively limited restrictions on economic engagement with settlements? If so what form should such sanctions take?

No

Further Comment

13. What actions other than BDS might members of the Methodist Church take to encourage a political process that could deliver a just and sustainable resolution in Israel and Palestine?

Tell the Palestinian leadership to stop incitement against Israel. Push the message to the Palestinian people that Israel is here to stay and that they must drop their rejectionism if they want a sustainable conclusion to the conflict. If the Methodist Church cannot do that, it should not engage further with this issue and should go and do something else.

14. Is there any further theological or other comment that you would like to make in relation to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions or are there papers or other resources that you would highlight?

One of the central Christian messages is love for our fellow men and women. BDS is rooted in hatred. In terms of resources, read The Commentator and see the related articles below this one.

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