'Wrong to link up with Methodists'

By Marcus Dysch, August 4, 2011

An expert on Christian-Jewish relations believes British Jews should have cut off all contact with the Methodist Church following its adoption of an anti-Israel policy.

Malcolm Lowe, a Bible scholar who has lectured at the Hebrew University, criticised attempts by the Jewish community to repair relations following last year's Methodist conference.

At the June 2010 conference, delegates voted for a boycott of goods from "illegal" Israeli West Bank settlements and pointed to Israeli occupation as the "key hindrance" to Middle East peace.

Mr Lowe said efforts made to thaw relations - including a mock Seder organised by the Board of Deputies and the Council for Christians and Jews for delegates at this year's Methodist conference - should not have gone ahead until the church repealed the policy.

The Board argued that grassroots work in the past 12 months with "sympathetic" local Methodists had isolated anti-Zionist elements in the church.

Mr Lowe said the policy "disgraces the church… If the church does not withdraw the report then it continues to insult the Jewish community."

Board chief executive Jon Benjamin said: "We did step back from normal engagement last year. But we did engage with them to deal head on with this precise issue."

Last updated: 1:26pm, August 4 2011