Churches respond to ECAJ objections

November 30, 2010 Agencies
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The National Council of Churches in Australia has published  a new statement on its resolutions focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Following complaints, from some of its members regarding its July statement in which it called for boycotts, divestment and sanctions agains Israeli goods made in the Occupied Territories and subsequent discussion with The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the NCCA has issued a further minute outlining their current position.

The new statement reads:

Supporting a vision for the future beyond the current realities for the Palestinian and Jewish peoples.

Following the 7th Forum many groups and individuals contacted the NCCA concerning the content of this resolution. A report on conversations both within the Australian community and with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) was considered by the NCCA Executive 4 November it was noted that the Forum resolution had received support from some groups and equally had raised considerable concern for others. The representatives from the NCCA entered into a dialogue with representatives from the ECAJ, these conversations led to an additional recommendation concerning the future of people in Palestine and Israel. After discussion and some amendments the following was resolved.

Draft Unconfirmed Minute


Supporting a vision for the future beyond the current realities for the Palestinian and Jewish peoples

IT WAS RESOLVED that .01 In accordance with NCCA Executive resolution passed in March 2008 and the 7th

Forum resolution of July 2010 affirms further its belief that:

.a. a peacefully negotiated resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians based on the principle of two States for two peoples, as envisaged in United Nations resolutions since 19471, is an urgent necessity;

.b. Israel has the right to exist in peace as the State of the Jewish people within secure and internationally recognised borders;

.c. a new State of Palestine has the right to exist in peace as the State of the Palestinian people within secure and internationally recognised borders;

.d. the civilizing value of any religion and society is reflected in how well it respects and protects the civil, political, religious and other human rights of all minorities;

.e. exclusivist religious or nationalist claims demanding state sovereignty over the entire land are incompatible with a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict;

.f. all parties must acknowledge and respect the holiness ascribed to the land and holy sites by each of the three monotheistic faiths, and accommodate the right of Jews, Christians and Muslims to worship freely at their holy places; and

.g. acts intended to desecrate places of worship or to permanently deny access to any persons to them or to intimidate worshippers, are sinful.

1 UN General Assembly Resolution 181 A/RES/181(II) 29 November 1947 provided for a ‘Plan of Partition’ of Palestine into ‘independent Arab and Jewish States’. The Plan of Partition envisaged a Jewish State that would have a Jewish majority and would be required to safeguard the human rights of its Arab minority. Likewise, the Arab State would have an Arab majority and be required to safeguard the human rights of its Jewish minority. The Provisional Government of each State was required to make a detailed declaration to the UN, the terms of which are stipulated in Resolution 181. These terms were to be recognized as fundamental laws of the State and no law, regulation or official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulations, nor shall any law, regulation or official action prevail over them.” For example, Chapter 2 of the Declaration was about ‘Religious and Minority Rights’ and paragraph 6 provided:

“[Each]State shall ensure adequate primary and secondary education for the Arab and Jewish minority, respectively, in its own language and its cultural traditions.”

NCCA Executive Draft Unconfirmed Minute – -3- Nov 2010

.02 Condemns any attempt to deny the people-hood and right of national self- determination of either the Jewish people, or of Palestinians, as an assault upon their inviolable human dignity; rejects any attempt to force any people to live, at best, as a tolerated minority in what is predominantly a State of the other; and affirms that each of the two peoples has a fundamental right to determine its own future, without being dominated or dictated to by the other.

.03 Welcomes and prays for the success of negotiations aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace throughout the Middle East and calls upon all parties to persist with negotiations in good faith and with a sense of urgency.

.04 Reaffirms the solidarity of the National Council of Churches in Australia with Palestinian Christians and assures Palestinians that the National Council of Churches in Australia hears their prayers and will take action on their behalf that seeks to:

.a. contribute to building the foundations of a Palestinian State and civil society and a viable economy;

.b. promote understanding, peace and justice between Israelis and Palestinians through cooperative projects; and

.c. discourage and not contribute to the forces of polarization, hatred, de- legitimization or extremism that have brought only misery in their wake.

.05 Adds the voice of the National Council of Churches in Australia to Christian voices throughout the world

.a. calling for freedom and justice for the Palestinians, to be achieved through peaceful means;

.b. reaffirming its condemnation of all acts of terrorism; and .c. condemning attitudes of and incitement to hatred, which sadly remain

present, particularly throughout the Middle East.

.06 Notes the importance of serious theological reflection upon the multiple conflicts in the region and, in particular, upon:

.a. the need for acceptance of Judaism as a living world religion. .b. the situation facing Palestinian Christians, other Arab Christian communities

and other religious minorities in the Middle East;

.c. the relationship between religion and the State.

.d. understanding of the holiness of the land by each of the three monotheistic faiths;

.e. the theological imagining of a vision for the future beyond current realities; and

.f. the anguish about the waves of suffering on all sides year after year as people, all made in the Divine image, die and are grieved by their loved ones;

and joins again in the cry of hope that “God’s goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death”, that persist in that region and beyond.

.07 In light of these resolutions requests Christians involved in inter-faith conversations among Christians, Jews and/or Muslims to include the subject matter of these resolutions in their conversations.

J-Wire published the original stetment in July which can be read here

Tara Curlewis.\, the General Secretary of tne NCCA told the ECAJ:It has been good to work with you and other members of the ECAJ in relation to concerns for the Palestinian and Jewish peoples. The recent NCCA Executive received a report of our meetings since the NCCA Forum in July and after discussion the proposal that was before them was resolved with some small amendments. I am attaching the document that contains both the Forum Minute ( now confirmed by the Executive) and the Draft Unconfirmed minute from the November Executive (to be confirmed at the March 2011 Executive) for you to share with the ECAJ and in ways that are helpful for your community .

For the NCCA these two minutes will be held together as related minutes. We hope that others who read them will read them as a whole package and not one in isolation of the other.

I trust that these may be received in your community with a similar spirit of goodwill as was experienced during our conversations together. I hope that this is one of many steps as we journey together as people of faith sharing concerns and our hope for peace for both Palestinian and Jewish peoples.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Executive Director Peter Wertheim told J-Wire: “The resolution approved by the NCCA Executive on November 4 is much better informed and more fair-minded than the resolution adopted so hastily by the NCCA Forum in July.  We appreciate the careful consideration given by the NCCA Executive to the issue and their consultation with the ECAJ.  The ECAJ Committee of Management will discuss the latest resolution and comment on it more extensively once the resolution has been confirmed by the NCCA Executive at its next meeting in March.”


One Response to “Churches respond to ECAJ objections”
  1. Rita says:

    What about this shameful boycott?

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