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Palestinians and their say in the Middle East

by
23 May 2014

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From the Revd David Haslam

Sir, - You reported (News, 2 May) on the publication of a briefing by the Methodist Church on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, in relation to products of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. After a quotation from the Israeli Embassy, a quarter of the report was given over to comments by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. There was no word at all from Palestinians, either official sources or Palestinian Christians. In my previous work with minority-ethnic communities for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, at the Churches' Commission for Racial Justice, when the voice of those marginalised by their ethnicity was excluded, we called it racism.

For the record, in the 2009 Kairos document, endorsed by 13 Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Israel/Palestine, reference is made to the BDS movement. They say for them the boycott integrates "the logic of peaceful resistance", and say such campaigns "must be carried out with courage, openly proclaiming that their object is not revenge but to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice . . . bringing both to justice and reconciliation".

Their word to "the Churches of the world" is, first, of gratitude for the solidarity we have shown, and for "the many Churches and Christians who support the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination". I suggest that this gratitude may be a little overstated in the light of reports such as yours of 2 May. Their final question to us is: "Are you able to help us get our freedom back, for this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace security and love?"

I have yet to see one word of public criticism of the actions of the Israeli State by the Board of Deputies. They are reported to have failed very recently to support a letter to the press by Jews for Justice for Palestinians challenging the detentions of children, and until they are willing to be more even-handed it makes any dialogue for peace with justice extremely difficult.

DAVID HASLAM
59 Burford Road
Evesham WR11 3AG

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