Newcastle Rep Council breaks off relations with Bishop

Newcastle Jewry’s representative body is breaking off links with the local Anglican bishop because of his scheduled participation in an event that will discuss boycotting Israel.

The Right Reverend Martin Wharton, Bishop of Newcastle, is due to attend a one-day conference in Gateshead in November, which plans to include a session on boycotts and divestment by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The conference has been organised by the north-east branch of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

The Church’s national assembly, the Synod, last month endorsed EAPPI, which sends volunteers to monitor Palestinian rights in the West Bank, despite protests from the Board that it was a “partisan” programme that fuelled hostility to Israel.

In a sharp letter to Bishop Wharton, the presidents of the Representative Council of North-East Jewry, Brian Mark and Eric Joseph, complained that he voted at the Synod to endorse EAPPI “despite…our grave concerns about that proposal, especially that it would encourage antisemitism”. His action “makes any further contact with the Jewish community in the North-East impossible”. The bishop was unavailable for comment.

Last updated: 1:24pm, August 2 2012