Some Methodists are trying to justify their hostile stance towards Israel by saying that their boycott is only of settlement goods, and not of Israel proper.
However, the boycotters have severely undermined their case in many ways.
1) They are mixing in their boycott with theology. Rev Nichola Jones shamefully invoked the idea that Christians have replaced Jews as God’s “chosen people” – and therefore believers have no reason to believe in the idea of Israel as a land that God promised to the Jewish people – as an argument in favour of a partial boycott of Israeli goods.
Quite why the Methodist boycotters, who loudly oppose Christian and Jewish religious Zionism, are seeking to punish the secular Israeli state for misinterpreting God’s covenants is anyone’s guess. (What’s next, a boycott of Albania for being atheist?)
2) The Methodist working group decided before they started writing their report on Israel that there’s no point in being balanced.
3) We had Rev Stephen Leah, who oversaw the report, boasting to fellow anti-Zionist activists that he really wants a full boycott of Israeli goods, but will just push for a boycott of settlement goods because he knows what he can get away with in the churches.
Rev Leah is the Chairman of York PSC. He is assisted by Terry Gallogly, York PSC Secretary. In one page on the York PSC website celebrating the anti-Israel Methodist report, we read:
This year’s Anglican General Synod is the first to be held in York since the publication of the Kairos document which is why the new chairman of York Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Terry Gallogly called on members and supporters to assemble on Sunday 11th July outside York Minster to encourage Synod members to hear this urgent and important plea, and take action to end the decades of suffering of all Palestinian people.
Ah ha, so Terry Gallogly is assisting Stephen Leah in his church campaigns against Israel.
For all Leah has spoken of truth, peace and justice in his discourses, you would think he would work alongside dependable, trustworthy, and above all honest folk.
Perhaps not: earlier this month, Terry Gallogly tried to rig a poll on the Jewish Chronicle website so it looked as if Jews supported the Far-Right EDL movement, in a botched attempt to frame Jonathan Hoffman. He said:
People might like to vote in this poll if only to embarass Hoffie [Jonathan Hoffman] and the Zionist Federation”
Not wishing to embarrass anyone myself here, but Stephen Leah has yet to distance himself publicly from his colleague’s tactics. As a Christian minister, surely, Stephen Leah should make it clear that Gallogly’s dishonest tactics have no place in either political or religious discourse.
Gallogly is most interested in boycotting all Israeli goods, and not just settlement goods. This is why he urges Sainsbury’s to stop stocking Israeli goods. Gallogly also urges a boycott of Israeli trade union Histadrut.
Clearly both Gallogly and Leah urge a full boycott of Israel which will affect all Israelis. Gallogly has actually tried to frame a poll to make Jewish Chronicle readers appear extreme to the wider public, and to cause personal shame to Jonathan Hoffman.
Still, the likes of Stephen Leah and Nichola Jones are considered experts on Israel, whereas the likes of David Hallam and others are shunned as being “unbalanced” by the Methodist hierarchy.
The question is now whether Methodist leaders will publicly apologise for the current state of affairs and web of lies surrounding those responsible for these anti-Israel measures, or whether they will continue on their colleagues’ quest to take Christianity back to the Dark Ages.