Church acts to ease fears over Israel report

A rewritten version of a controversial report about Israel was due to be voted on by Church of Scotland leaders this week.

Phrases questioning Jewish claims to the land of Israel were removed from the document, compiled by the Church’s church and society council, following complaints from Jewish communal organisations.

Among the points inserted into the new version were condemnations of terrorism and antisemitism, and recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

The church and society council said it had made the alterations because its original document had been “misunderstood”.

One of the passages in the original report which had drawn criticism had asked: “Would the Jewish people today have a fairer claim to the land if they dealt justly with the Palestinians?” It was removed from the new document.

A Board of Deputies spokesman said: “The new document confirms a number of views that the Church has assured us always formed part of its policy.” But he added that the revised report “still lacks balance” and was “unlikely to be embraced by mainstream views in the Jewish community.

“We do not consider that it will advance the cause of the peace in the Middle East that we all; Jews, Christians, and Muslims, so fervently pray for.”

More than 700 ministers and Church elders were due to vote on whether to adopt the report as Church policy at its general assembly yesterday.

Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the church and society council, said: “We believe that this new version has paid attention to the concern some of the language of the previous version caused among the Jewish community, while holding true to our concerns about the injustices being perpetrated because of policies of the government of Israel against the Palestinian people.”

Last updated: 12:25pm, May 23 2013