A Call to the Anglican Church to Refuse to Divest from Israel sign now

As men and women who long for peace and mutual respect to prevail among the peoples of the world, we call on you to repudiate the initiative of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network to adopt an anti-Israel divestment policy. Divestment is morally wrong because it unfairly singles out the nation of Israel for disporportionate opprobrium, and it is bad policy because it is likely to lead not to peace but to war.

Professor Michael Walzer of the Princeton University, a moral philosopher, is the leading scholar in the world today of the Just War theory developed by generations of Christian theologians. He has written, "The current boycott campaign against Israel, modeled on the 1980s campaign against South Africa, aims at a very one-sided delegitimation. And because the other side isn't led by an organization remotely like the African National Congress, or by a man remotely like Nelson Mandela, the success of this campaign would be disastrous. It would strengthen the forces fighting the (Palestinian war to destroy the state of Israel)."

Nor has the Anglican Communion been an honest broker in the Middle East. A study released on Sept. 26, 2004 by the Institute on Religion and Democracy shows that fully one-third of church statements on human rights issues are aimed at Israel. Another third are aimed at the United States.

By contrast, "Only 19 percent of the church criticisms were aimed at nations deemed "not free" in the 2004 Freedom House assessments. Many of the countries rated lowest by Freedom House-such as China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia-were not criticized even once. Of the fifteen worst human rights abusers listed by Freedom House, only five received any criticism during the four years studied."

The Anglican Church has not divested from China in protest over its illegal occupation of Tibet and Eastern Turkmenistan. It has not divested from Syria despite that nations massacres of minority Kurds. It has not divested form Nigeria despite brutal efforts to impose shaaria on unwilling Christians. Nor has it divested from the nation of Sudan despite the backing of the national government for the enslavement of Christians in the south and the ongoing campaign of genocide against the ethnically African Muslims of the Darfur region. Against this background, the initiative to divest from only one nation state, the national state of the Jewish people, is highly suspect.

As Harvard University President Lawrence Summers said with regard to another effort to promote divestment from Israel, such actions are anti-Semitic in their effect, if not their intent.

The Catholic Church has officially stated: We oppose anti-Semitism in any way and form, including anti-Zionism that has become of late a manifestation of anti-Semitism.

This is a moment when Canterbury would do well to listen to Rome.

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Betty NielsenBy:
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The Archbishops of the Worldwide Anglican Communion and the Members of the Anglican Consultative Council

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