Key Issue:BDS in the Churches
Churches, Christian aid societies, and faith-based NGOs are active in political campaigns against Israel. BDS activists are fully aware of the role churches can and do play in amplifying and legitimizing their radical anti-Israel message. The BDS Movement website states:
“Religious institutions are seen in many communities as embodying important moral and ethical principles… Divestment campaigns that target companies such as Caterpillar have been initiated in a number of major Christian churches. Not only will successful divestment campaigns financially weaken the Occupation, but will raise both the public profile and legitimacy of the BDS campaign.”
At the NGO Forum of the UN’s 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, officials from 1,500 NGOs developed a plan of attack to delegitimize Israel as an “apartheid regime.” This “Durban strategy” of political warfare called for the “complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state” through the “imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel.”
Among the accredited NGOs at this Durban NGO Forum were 35 Christian religious institutions representing a number of churches. In the following decade many of these churches would be targeted for co-optation by BDS proponents, with a few denominations actively promoting this strategy.
Churches and Governmental Funding of the “Durban Strategy”
Taxpayer money, mostly European but also from the United States and Canada, is disbursed through various governmental aid frameworks and mechanisms. In turn, these government agencies allocate grants to various Christian aid societies. European, American, and Canadian Christian aid societies then distribute funding to a broad range of humanitarian projects, including disaster relief, food aid, and development projects.
When these organizations turn their efforts towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, they often transfer funds to highly politicized NGOs. These NGOs, instead of acting as neutral parties, often involve themselves directly as actors in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Kairos Palestine Document
The Kairos Palestine Document is a key resource for Church groups around the world. The Kairos Palestine Document embraces replacement theology, stating that Torah without Christianity is a “dead letter.”
The document characterizes terrorist acts of “armed resistance” as “Palestinian legal resistance,” denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, calls to mobilize churches worldwide in the call for BDS, and compares Israel with the South African apartheid regime.
Kairos Palestine calls for action designed to create “a system of economic sanctions and boycott [and divestment] to be applied against Israel.”