The Methodist Church this week agreed to consider alternatives to boycotting Israel after the Board of Deputies voiced concern about its policy on the Middle East.
At a meeting with the president of the Methodist Conference, Ruth Gee, a Board delegation — led by its president Vivian Wineman — raised objections to a new online consultation launched by the Church on sanctions against Israel
The internet survey — which is open to anyone to respond to — asks people to say if they are in favour of academic and economic boycotts of Israel, what arguments they have against boycott and what they believe are the motives of the boycott movement.
It follows a resolution passed by the Methodist Conference this summer for a briefing paper on the pros and cons of boycotting Israel to be prepared in time for next year’s conference.
According to a joint statement agreed by the church and Board after the meeting, the Board’s representatives “expressed strong concerns about the premise and the processes around this report.
“These concerns were heard by Methodist Church colleagues.”
It stated that both had “agreed to explore approaches, distinct from the BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] consultation on which the Methodist Church is presently engaged, including investing in peace, dialogue and reconciliation projects.
“The Board and the Church will work collaboratively in this aim, alongside other interested parties.”
Board vice-president Jonathan Arkush, who attended the meeting, said that “it offers hope of a far more constructive way forward than the sterile debate about boycotting”.