Quakers continue to boycott settlement produce
Quakers in Britain have reaffirmed their earlier decision to boycott goods from Israeli settlements. While firmly saying that Quakers are not boycotting Israel, they say settlements cause harm and poverty to Palestinians and are widely recognised as an obstacle to peace in the region. Israeli settlements are illegal under international humanitarian law.
Meeting for Sufferings (British Quakers’ representative, decision-making body) meeting on Saturday in Friends House, London, heard reports from Quakers building dialogue with Jewish communities in Britain. Their dialogue is informed by clear witnessing by the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, a World Council of Churches initiative, run in Britain by Quakers on behalf of British and Irish Churches and agencies. The programme has more human rights observers on the ground in the West Bank than does the United Nations.
The full text of the minute recording the decision follows:
“Quakers continue to stand firmly with respect to the injustice of the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and therefore to support the boycott of settlement goods.
“We do not wish to take action against the State of Israel, nor to jeopardise the work of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), which is extensive on the ground and is widely valued and acclaimed. It is often the clear witnessing from ecumenical accompaniers which informs our dialogue with Israelis and British Jews. The EAPPI manager, Teresa Parker, and the Secretary of Quaker Committee on Christian and Interfaith Relations, Marigold Bentley, have been meeting with members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and finding co-operation in bringing to Israeli attention human rights issues in respect of children in the West Bank. EAs are now spending time with Jewish families in Haifa, and they have met with young Israeli army recruits.
“We are also continuing advocacy work in the European Union to support their work to ensure funding no longer supports settlements. “We value all opportunities for dialogue with the Jewish community despite its often painful nature. There are impasses of understanding and risks of misrepresentation. Our underlying argument (the illegality of the settlements) is not accepted by some British Jews, but the circumstances have not changed and we stay committed to our original decision. Friends have developed their witness in interfaith dialogue with the intention of finding common understanding. Practical demonstrations against settlement trade continue to be held.
“By confining our boycott to settlement goods, we can re-inforce that we are not anti-Israel or anti-semitic, but motivated by the desire for a just peace with respect for human rights.?“We look forward to John Lynes’ paper in Friends Quarterly in January 2014: “Prophets or Reconcilers, Beyond Boycott.” Quaker prophets and Quaker reconcilers can complement each other.”
Ends-Notes to editors
•Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends.
•Around 23,000 people attend nearly 475 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.?
•Since it was started in 2002 at the request of church leaders in Jerusalem, nearly 1,000 EAs from more than 20 countries have taken part, bringing stories of the people immediately affected by the occupation to the notice of policy makers at international level.?
•Quakers co-ordinate the EAPPI in Britain and Ireland. Partner churches and church-related organisations include: Baptist Union of Great Britain, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Church of Scotland, Church Mission Society, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Iona Community, Methodist Church, Pax Christi UK, Scottish Episcopal Church, United Reformed Church, US – Anglicans in world mission, and Trócaire.?
•Read more on EAPPI at www.quaker.org.uk/eappi