THE CHURCH of Scotland yesterday “commended” to its congregation a document calling for people to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Church officials boosted solidarity campaigners in a joint statement with visiting Palestinian Archbishop of Sebastia Atallah Hanna.
The church said that Israel’s massacres of Palestinians would leave a “legacy of hurt, pain and resentment.”
Mr Hanna, charged with the care of nearly 180,000 Palestinian Christians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said they were “not optimistic, but our hope remains strong.
“Until the occupation is ended, how can real progress towards such a peace begin to be achieved?” he asked.
Church of Scotland general assembly moderator Reverend John Chalmers — the church’s elected public face — said the church’s 400,000-strong congregation shared his “frustration and pain.”
He said: “To an outside observer, the disproportionate response of the state of Israel appears set to leave a legacy of hurt, pain and resentment which does not create the atmosphere in which a peaceful and just resolution can be sought.”
The joint statement also suggested a strengthening of the Church’s position since last year’s vote insisting that the Kirk “should not be supporting any claims by Jewish or any other people to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory.”
The church has historically steered clear of an explicit endorsement of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to force a change of Israeli policy out of economic necessity.
But a spokeswoman told the Morning Star yesterday that the Kairos-Palestine document — which calls for “individuals, companies and states” to join the BDS movement — had been “commended to the whole church.”
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign chair Mick Napier said the announcement was to be celebrated.
“We see this meeting of all the Scottish Christian leaders as a further development in the movement to oppose Israeli war crimes,” he said.
Mr Hanna will now continue his tour of Scotland, meeting with Scottish imams at Edinburgh’s Ahl al-Bait Society on Friday, addressing a public meeting at Glasgow Adelaides on Saturday and returning to Edinburgh’s Augustine Church on Sunday.