A SENIOR Jewish leader has described the language used in
Monday's General Synod debate about Israel and Palestine as evoking
"nothing but simple anti-Semitic themes from history".
The Synod (Synod, page
6) approved a Private Member's Motion moved by Dr John
Dinnen (Hereford), endorsing the World Council of Churches'
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI),
despite objections from Jewish groups who say that EAPPI is biased
and anti-Israeli (
News, 29 June).
The voting was decisive: Bishops: 21 to 3, with 14 recorded
abstentions; Clergy: 89 to 21, with 44 recorded abstentions; Laity:
91 to 30, with 35 recorded abstentions.
The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
(BOD), Jonathan Arkush, who observed the debate from the public
gallery, said: "I thought the debate was sadly ill-informed, very
one-sided, and at times inappropriately emotive. Nothing was said
at all about the simple facts behind the Jewish community's deep
concerns about the bias shown by EAPPI."
The president of the BOD, Vivian Wineman, later said: "To hear
the debate at Synod, littered with references to 'powerful
lobbies', the money expended by the Jewish community,
'Jewish-sounding names', and the actions of the community 'bringing
shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust', is deeply
offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of
those behind this motion."
The Archbishop of Canterbury unsuccessfully urged the Synod to
remove reference to EAPPI from the motion. He said that he was
concerned about the effect the motion would have on dialogue with
Jewish communities. "That, as a president of CCJ (Council of
Christians and Jews), is something that I feel personally bound to
weigh. I want to understand exactly why it is that local Jewish
communities are so worried by EAPPI."
But Dr Williams was extremely critical of what he called "forms
of security that are indefensible and unsustainable". He said: It
is because we want a secure Israel that we are concerned about
behaviour that alienates and de-humanises Palestinians."
The chief executive of the CCJ, the Revd David Gifford, said
that the motion was "probably not the Synod's most considered
decision in recent years".
The Embassy of Israel in London said that it was "disappointed"
that the General Synod had "endorsed the work of a highly partisan
But other groups welcomed the motion. The general secretary of
Quaker Peace and Social Witness, which co-ordinates EAPPI in the
UK, Helen Drewery, said: "We see Synod's affirmation of EAPPI as
strengthening its nonviolent efforts to bring peace to the
The co-ordinator of Friends of Sabeel in the UK, Anne Clayton,
said that the organisation wanted to "commend Synod for taking this
AS THE General Synod debated the motion on Palestine and
Israel, EAPPI was circulating a briefing to its supporters about an
incident that occurred near the West Bank town of Nablus last
EAPPI reported that six
Palestinians were injured in the incident, and five of them needed
hospital treatment. EAPPI said that a group of settlers from
Itamar, armed with knives, attacked three Palestinian farmers in
Yanoun. "A clash then ensued, in which the settlers and farmers
began throwing stones at one-another. When [EAPPI volunteers]
arrived at the scene, three fires were ablaze in the fields, but it
was not known whether the flames were intentionally lit by the
settlers or were started by tear-gas canisters that the Israeli
military fired at the farmers."
EAPPI reported that other
Palestinian farmers, who arrived to put the flames out, were
prevented from reaching the scene by Israeli soldiers and police,
who were using tear gas. One Palestinian was beaten and stabbed
many times by settlers before being shot in the face and foot by
Israeli soldiers; another was beaten by a soldier on his head with
The briefing highlights the
difficulties of verifying accounts of incidents that occur in the
Palestinian territories. A spokesperson for the Israeli Defence
Forces (IDF) said: "A violent confrontation erupted between a
number of Israeli residents and a large number of Palestinians, in
which both parties hurled rocks at one another.
"Security forces acted to
defuse the confrontation, using riot dispersal means. During the
course of the confrontation, two Palestinians and one Israeli were
lightly injured, and received medical attention from IDF medics on
scene. The two Palestinians were transported to a local