04 August 2009

Israel and the United Church of Canada

Well, cool. This is my 100th post.

I have a million things on my mind, as usual. But I suppose what's in the forefront lately is the United Church's 40th General Council. The way the UCC works is to send delegates from all over the country to vote on who the next Moderator should be (my kid Snap thinks this is HILARIOUS that our church has a moderator - she thinks it's a hoot that we're so wishywashy), and on resolutions that have made it from the churches, through the presbyteries and then through the conferences. These resolutions set the policy of the church as a whole. Some are controversial, some aren't. Oh, and unlike some other churches *coughCatholiccough* the UCC doesn't claim to be right. We just say what our opinion is.

This year, the big ones to hit the council (well, the big one in terms of interest from outside the church, anyway) are about peace in Israel and Palestine. I'm somewhat flabbergasted that these got through to General Council without revisions. They're... well, let's call it "troubling". In particular, I have issues with this:

Questionable positions of Canadian Members of Parliament include:
•Members of Parliament have accepted sponsored trips to Israel, which might be called bribes; some Members of Parliament are affiliated with the State of Israel;
•Some Members of Parliament are dual-citizens with Israel and have sensitive roles in Canada.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. They're actually suggesting that having dual citizenship is a questionable position? That accepting a trip to Israel is a bribe? WTF, people! "Are you now, or have you ever been affiliated with Israel?" Is that next?

Look, it's like this. That is some serious anti-semitism. Or at least semite-phobia. Good lord people, Israel has a right to exist, and the United Church has been saying so for years. Considering that fact, it should very much follow that any member of parliament, and indeed any Canadian, has the right to be affiliated with Israel.

Yeah, Israel has acted in a pretty shitty way. They're violating a number of human rights. They're violating Geneva Conventions. They're doing shitastic things of epic proportions. But guess what? So's our good friend the US. So are we. We're allowing our very own citizens to be tortured. We're refusing some of them their right to enter their own country. We're complicit in some serious shit in Afghanistan. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all that, right?

I realize that Israel has the responsibility to act in a reasonable way, especially since they are a nuclear power. I also realize that Palestine has a responsibility to act in a reasonable way. However, it is Israel who has the greater power. To badly paraphrase Peter Parker's Uncle Ben, greater power requires greater responsibility.

I also realize that if a small contingent of natives decided that Canada didn't have a legal claim to their land and started lobbing bombs at us, we'd rush in there and kick their asses. And we wouldn't be nice about it.

I'll be watching this with interest. I expect that the language will be toned down A LOT and the resolution will be softened to say very little more, if anything, than what was passed at GC38.

Ya know, it occurs to me that because of the history of the church in that area, that we are a lot more interested in Israel, and hold it up to a much higher standard than we do for the rest of the world. I mean, where are the resolutions on the Congo, Sudan, Nicaragua?

Rev. David Giuliano, moderator of the United Church of Canada's response to the controversy

The press release that hit my inbox this morning regarding the four resolutions

The PDF document in which the 4 resolutions can be found