Concern over Methodist church's Israel exhibition


The Board of Deputies has criticised an exhibition to be held at a Methodist church as being biased against Israel.

Hinde Street Methodist Church, in central London, is mounting the display, entitled “You cannot pass today: Life through a dividing wall” from Monday. Billed as offering a taste of daily life in the Holy Land, it will include a life-sized reconstruction of an Israeli border control point between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

According to the Independent Catholic News, exhibition organiser Katherine Fox has recently returned from “monitoring human rights” in Bethlehem.

She said that Londoners were “shocked” when she described “what I witnessed daily at the checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem".

Marie van der Zyl, vice-president of the Board, said the organisation was "disappointed that a church is looking to host what looks like a one-sided exhibition, which puts unwelcome and unnecessary strain on Christian-Jewish relations.

“We have spoken to the Methodist Church’s national body, and to interfaith partners, and have approached the church concerned to outline our concerns and call for a more constructive approach to discussion of the region’s problems.

“Our view remains that we should be looking to export peace, not import conflict.”

Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation,said:“The danger with discussions of the Middle East conflict is that it’s reduced to a tale of ever villainous Israelis and perpetually victimised Palestinians.

"We look forward to working with both activists and also hopefully the church itself to make sure that all sides of this story are told."

Michael Ivatt, lead media officer for the Methodist Church said the exhibition, which was being held as "part of the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel", had "been carefully curated to reflect the issues of divided communities within Israel and Palestine and to promote reflection and prayers for peace.

"The display seeks to explore aspects of human rights and dignity. There is no criticism or judgement of the Jewish community or faith.

He confirmed that there will be "a representation of a queue at a checkpoint along with photographs and accounts".

Mr Ivatt pointed out that the as exhibition had not yet opened,"those who are concerned about its content will not have seen the context that the exhibit is set within".

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