Jewish group: Church Synod Israel vote 'inflammatory'

By Jennifer Lipman, July 10, 2012
Vivian Wineman

Vivian Wineman

The representative organisation of British Jewry has condemned the Church of England's General Synod for choosing to "promote an inflammatory and partisan programme at the expense of its interfaith relations".

In a strongly worded statement, the president of the Board of Deputies expressed its concern over the decision at the Synod yesterday to pass a motion endorsing the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

The programme had previously been described by the Board as the activities of "very partisan but very motivated anti-Israel advocates who have almost no grasp of the suffering of normal Israelis".

On Monday delegates overwhelmingly backed the resolution calling for support of the West Bank volunteer programme.

Vivian Wineman said the Synod had justified using the views of marginal groups and "ridden roughshod over the very real and legitimate concerns of the UK Jewish community".

He pointed out the lack of balance in the EAPPI programme and the fact that it does nothing to promote an understanding of the situation in the Middle East.

"Members of Jewish communities across the country have suffered harassment and abuse at EAPPI meetings and yet Synod has completely dismissed their experiences," he said. "As the motion was being debated, it came to light that EAPPI had issued a publication, entitled 'Chain Reaction', which calls on supporters to stage sit-ins at Israeli Embassies, to hack government websites in order to promote its message and declares EAPPI's support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel."

Mr Wineman added: "To hear the debate at Synod littered with references to 'powerful lobbies', the money expended by the Jewish community, 'Jewish sounding names' and the actions of the community 'bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust', is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind this motion."

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in the UK said: "We are deeply disappointed that General Synod has endorsed the work of a highly partisan organisation. Christians face rising persecution across the region and yet, by supporting this group, the Church of England has chosen to amplify one-sided voices and to single out Israel – the only country where Christian rights are enshrined and the Christian population is growing.

"We share the concerns of all those within the Church of England who opposed this resolution as being misguided and undermining hopes for genuine understanding and reconciliation."

Board of Deputies statement on the Synod EAPPI vote

Last updated: 12:21pm, July 10 2012