Methodist sets up Israel support group despite stance in Methodist conference report
A Methodist group was established recently to counter the stand of the Methodist conference who, in a recent report called on all church members to support a boycott of goods from West Bank settlements.
Reverend Pam Smith of Monmouth, South Wales created the group, Methodist Friends of Israel and has set up a website and Facebook group to generate more support among Methodists for Israel despite the conference report, The Jewish Chronicle said.
Smith said, “After the recent conference accepted the report I felt it was necessary to encourage and support those Methodists who support Israel. It is also to help Methodists to access links that will give the facts, instead of just accepting the very biased, flawed media report,” The Jewish Chronicle said.
Smith added, “We want to support Israel by buying goods from the land and showing our Jewish friends that we do not agree with the conference resolution. I have received a lot of feedback as the news of MFI has spread. So far it has been very positive,” The Jewish Chronicle said.
Strong criticisms have been raised against the report of the Methodist conference. The Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a joint statement with the Jewish Leadership Council where they said the Methodists should “hang their heads in shame.” They said the report could affect the harmonious relationship that has so far prevailed among different faith groups in the UK, Redress News said.
They called the report “unbalanced, factually and historically flawed” and said the authors “abused the goodwill of the Jewish community, which tried to engage on this issue, only to find our efforts were treated as an unwelcome distraction,” Redress News said.
In their joint statement they said, “This is a very sad day, both for Jewish-Methodist relations and for everyone who wants to see positive engagement with the complex issues of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The Methodist Conference has swallowed hook, line and sinker a report full of basic historical inaccuracies, deliberate misrepresentations and distortions of Jewish theology and Israeli policy,” Redress News said.
Of the Methodists Friends of Israel Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chair of the Zionist Federation said, “I hope this will be the start of a grass-roots movement within the Methodists to reverse the motion passed at the Methodist Conference, which was theologically invalid, maligned Zionism and demonized Israel,” The Jewish Chronicle said.
The Methodist conference report was made in response to appeals from Palestine Christians, some Jewish organizations and the World Council of Churches who feel the building of settlements in the disputed area is unjust, and who hope a boycott can put an end to it.