The Jewish Chronicle reports:
Jewish leaders have condemned a “skewed” report on Israel prepared by the Methodist Church, warning it could set back interfaith relations for years.
The report, which is to be debated at the church’s national conference later this month, calls for a boycott of goods from “illegal” West Bank settlements, and political lobbying to end Israel’s occupation and the “siege of Gaza”.
The report also asks the church to examine whether Zionism, and in particular Christian Zionism, is compatible with Methodist beliefs.
This Methodist report was inevitably leading towards an interfaith crisis, given that one of the members of the Methodist Church’s Israel Palestine Working Group is Stephen Leah, a Methodist vicar in charge of the York PSG. He was also the seconder of the motion for Methodists to examine Zionists more closely, the proposer of the motion being Rev Nichola Jones of Friends of Sabeel UK. As such, Leah’s political positioning merits closer attention.
In April, Leah boasted to ICAHD-UK:
I am a Methodist preacher I’m also the chair of the York PSC. I personally would like to have divestment going a little bit further into the full boycott of Israel, but I know how much I can get away with in the churches sometimes. […] Churches are paranoid about being critical of Israel sometimes, they want to be balanced all the time, we must put pressure on church leaders.
So Leah’s document calls for a boycott of Israeli goods which affect Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but this is merely a pit-stop for Leah in his quest for a full-scale boycott of Israel proper.
Indeed, The Methodist document driven by Leah promotes the writings of the Christian Far Right author Stephen Sizer, who has many known links to Holocaust-deniers.
Sadly Dr Leah is pushing the Methodist Church into a reactionary political position that betrays the ethos and ethics of the Church.