On eve of synod, Palestine/Israel motion gains more support

On the eve of the Church of England’s General Synod, the Private Member’s Motion on Palestine/Israel by Dr John Dinnen has received further support from Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), The Parents Circle-Family Forum member Rami Elhanan, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Following on from the strong backing of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, these new endorsements of the motion and the work of EAPPI further highlight just how disingenuous it is for the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chief Rabbi to warn of ‘damage’ to ‘interfaith relations’ should the motion be adopted.

Full text of the three new statements of support as follows:

Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from Independent Jewish Voices (IJV)

We are writing to you to express our dismay at the manner in which Dr. John Dinnen’s private members motion, tabled for the coming meeting of the General Synod, has been criticised by some members of the Jewish Community. Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), established five years ago, has consistently sought to defend the human rights entitlements of both Palestinians and Israelis. We also encourage the expression of a wide range of views among Jewish in the UK and aim to be a forum of reasoned discussion of diverse attitudes.

We welcome the support shown for Israelis and Palestinians working for justice and peace in the area, including the Parents Circle-Family Forum; and for EAPPI, which works closely with Israeli human rights organisations, such as Rabbis for Human Rights, in its protection and advocacy work.   Your efforts to promote peace in the Middle East are a positive step towards the successful outcome for which we all hope.

Statement from Rami Elhanan, Israeli Jewish member of The Parents Circle-Family Forum

As a member of the Parents Circle-Family Forum, I am personally delighted to hear that the Church of England General Synod is due to debate and vote on Dr John Dinnen’s Private Member’s Motion (PMM), which includes a call for the Synod to affirm its support for “all Israelis and Palestinians in all organisations working for justice and peace in the area, such as the Parents Circle-Family Forum”.

Dr Dinnen’s PMM also includes a call for the Synod to affirm its support for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). I highly recommend EAPPI as an organisation working ceaselessly for peace and justice, in alliance with Israeli and Palestinian organisations.  I have met EAPPI members on many occasions through my activities and lectures.  I have always been deeply impressed by their devotion and courage and commitment to the cause of peace.

I also thus reject the disappointing attack by the Board of Deputies of British Jews on the work of EAPPI and its members. In their message to supporters, the Board left out the fact that the motion also supports the Parents Circle, since to do so would be embarrassing - the Board themselves have previously supported and praised the work of the Parents Circle-Family Forum.

I very much hope that the Synod votes in favour of Dr Dinnen’s PMM. In so doing, it will send a much needed message of peace and justice.

ICAHD letter of support for Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in PaIestine-Israel (EAPPI)

As an Israeli Jew and one of the founders of EAPPI in Geneva (together with another four or five Israelis, among others), I am appalled by the attacks  on the organization and its dedicated volunteers by Rabbi Jonathan Sachs, the Jewish Board of Deputies and other self-appointed “defenders of Israel” leading up to the Anglican General Synod. The very mandate of the EAPPI is to “bring internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation.” Why to just the West Bank? Because there is no correspondence between life in Israel, where children hardly need to be escorted to school and where children of settlers are escorted by the Israeli army, and Palestinian children walking miles through the hills of Hebron to school and being regularly attacked by thugs from the settlements armed with baseball bats and guns. Anyone who tries to equate the “sides” ignores the immense power differential created, among other things, by the Israeli Occupation. (Last time I looked, the Palestinians were not occupying Tel Aviv or demolishing Israeli homes.)

The EAPPI mandate continues: “Ecumenical Accompaniers provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace.” In addition, when they return home, “Accompaniers campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and implementation of UN resolutions.” Does that really sound like such a terrible program? Could the Anglican Church, or any other church, or any Jewish body for that matter, ever formulate a more needed and sensitive mandate that nevertheless addresses Palestinian vulnerability and Israeli injustice?

As the head of an Israeli peace and human rights organization that tries to stop Israel’s wanton demolition of Palestinian homes (27,000 so far since 1967, almost none for “security” reasons), I call on the Synod to give the EAPPI all the support it can. How could a church do less in the face of injustice almost universally acknowledged, by many Jews as well as others. I also call on the Jewish community to cease attacking organizations that embody the very principles of social justice and human rights that define contemporary Judaism today (unfortunately, outside Israel).

Jeff Halper, Director, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)


Ben White

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Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. His articles have been widely published in the likes of The Guardian‘s Comment is free, Al Jazeera, Electronic Intifada, New Statesman, and many others. He is the author of ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’ (2009, Pluto Press) and ‘Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination & Democracy’ (2012, Pluto Press). Ben is a researcher/writer for the Journal of Palestine Studies.