Jewish communal leaders have welcomed the condemnation of Hamas and the rejection of the boycott by the Church of Scotland.
The Board of Deputies and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) did, however, criticise the Church’s “biased and inadequate” report on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
The report, titled ‘Embracing Peace and Working for Justice’, was debated yesterday during the Church’s general assembly, in which a motion to support for BDS was rejected and the “genocidal aims” of Hamas condemned.
SCoJeC and the Board had initially criticised the report upon its publication in April, pointing out that it failed to denounce “Palestinian terrorism or Hamas’ institutionalised antisemitism”.
In a statement, SCoJeC said: “As a number of speakers noted, the singling out of the Jewish state for excessive criticism can be antisemitic and can affect the safety and wellbeing of Jewish people in Scotland.
“The Scottish Jewish community is clear that much work remains to be done to reach a better understanding between the Church of Scotland and the Jewish Community but there is a clear will for both our doors to remain open.”
Leah Granat, the research and publications officer of SCoJeC, told the JC the council was “disappointed” by the imbalance of the final report, although this could not have been amended at the general assembly.
Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies, said: “We called out the bias inherent in the document when it was first published and our view remains that it was woefully inadequate in addressing the historical realities of the situation, with some seeking to make the conclusions yet more unbalanced.
“However, that the debate on the floor of the general assembly expressly mandated the condemnation of Hamas and rejected a proposal for BDS show that there are those in the Kirk who are prepared to listen and engage more constructively. Time will tell whether the Church of Scotland wishes to choose truth or polemic.”
A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said the report was written for members to be able to engage with the "lived reality" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, given the significance of the region within Christianity.
He said: "Yesterday the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland received a report on the Balfour Centenary. The report, recognising Lord Balfour’s membership of our denomination, the significance of Biblical Israel within Christianity and the Church of Scotland’s presence within the land, was written for the Church of Scotland and church members as we seek to understand this complex anniversary, and to engage with the lived reality of this long-standing conflict.
"The Church of Scotland remains committed to building positive relationships with the Jewish community and to improving the level of understanding between us. As faith communities we share so much, and we still have so much to learn."