Front page news in the Jewish Chronicle today is the private members’ motion on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme on Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) which was debated at the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England earlier in the week.
The EAPPI is a programme run under the auspices of the World Council of Churches. It takes ‘ecumenical accompaniers’ (EAs) to Palestine and Israel to observe the realities on the ground. Upon their return to the UK, EAs are better disposed to advocate for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by urging an end to occupation, respect for international law and the implementation of UN resolutions, having witnessed the impact of occupation and violation of UN Resolutions on Palestinians and Israelis.
The JC notes the intense lobbying undertaken by the Board of Deputies ahead of the Synod’s vote:
“The debate was initiated by a Private Member’s Motion from Herefordshire pathologist, Dr John Dinnen, who has a track record of anti-Israel activism. He told the Synod: “Citizens of the West Bank and Gaza endure the devastating social and economic effects of occupation or blockade, with Jewish settlements, hundreds of barriers to movement and the separation wall built largely on Palestinian land.”
“The Archbishop of Canterbury began his contribution with an attack on the pro-Israel material that had been sent to Synod members. He said: “There are some people, in their uncritical assumption that the government of Israel can do no wrong, who are clearly going to be very irritated by information being disseminated of the kind that EAPPI does.”
“The Bishop of Manchester later appeared to back the Archbishop’s stance, saying: “There was over-lobbying by some members of the Jewish community.” He told the Times of Israel that some Synod members had said “all the lobbying from the Jewish side led us to vote the other way.””
Ben White, commenting on the vote and the Board’s lobbying against the motion observes:
“It is less surprising that the BoD is attacking the proposed motion when one recalls that the body repeatedly intervenes to protect Israel on a number of issues: whether lobbying the government to change universal jurisdiction legislation, opposing schools’ participation in a Palestinian literary festival, or pressuring the Co-Op supermarket chain to reverse a decision to boycott companies complicit in breaches of international law.
“This time around, the pressure on Synod members failed to thwart the adoption of the motion. This took place just after the Methodist Conference, where delegates overwhelmingly backed a Christian Aid call for a government ban on West Bank settlement products. Supporting international law and human rights is becoming less ‘controversial’, and Israel’s defenders are finding it increasingly tough to defend the indefensible.”
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