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Jesus Christ, Activist

Linda Scherzinger on United Church's decision to boycott Israeli settlement goods, and what JC would do.

by Miles Howe

Linda Scherzinger - Convenor of the Maritime Conference Working Group on Just Peace for Israel/Palestine [Photo: Miles Howe]
Linda Scherzinger - Convenor of the Maritime Conference Working Group on Just Peace for Israel/Palestine [Photo: Miles Howe]

K'jipuktuk (Halifax) — It has been a generation since the United Church has come out (peacefully) swinging on the issue of Israel-Palestine. At their 41st General Council held on Aug. 17 in Ottawa, the United Church has put action to words.

Basing their decision on the report from the 'Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy', a five-member team who prepared the report using on-the-ground fact finding as well as research, the UC voted to:

"[T]ake concrete actions to support the end of the occupation by:

a. directing the Executive of the General Council to give high priority to establishing a church-wide campaign of education and economic action directed against one or more settlement products that can be identified as produced in or related to the settlements or the occupied territories;

b. identifying the goal of the campaign as building awareness of the United Church members of the illegal settlements' unjust continuation of the occupation and its impact on the lives of Palestinians and Israelis...;

d. directing the Executive of the General Council to explore the wisdom of divesting in companies that are profiting from or supporting the occupation...;

f. requesting that the Canadian government ensure that all products produced in the settlements be labelled clearly and differently from products of Israel...

It is a move that flies in the face of recent Nova Scotian adventures to Israel-Palestine, including premier Darryl Dexter's provincially-sanctioned, and most likely paid for, goodwill excursion to the 'Holy Land' in 2011. Neither Dexter, nor Dalhousie University, nor the University of King's College, on their respective bridge-building initiatives, saw fit to make any public mention of illegal Israeli settlements being one of the biggest barriers to any potential peace in the region. Provocative and questionable photos of the premier in a Jewish National Fund ball-cap, and reports back of Memorandums of Understanding, were instead the dishes served up for public mastication. 

The United Church of Canada is no fringe denomination. It is Canada's largest Protestant Christian denomination, and while a boycott of settlement goods won't stop the Israeli economic (or war) machine, it does stand to potentially increase the education, vis-a-vis Israel-Palestine, of its estimated half-million-plus membership and close to 3 million adherents. Indeed, education would appear to be paramount to the potential actions, rather than, say, boycotting olive oil from illegally seized trees.  

Please enjoy the following audio with Linda Scherzinger. Linda is a retired lay minister, the Chair of St. Andrew's (Halifax) Outreach Committee, the Convenor of the Maritime Conference Working Group on Just Peace for Israel-Palestine, and an elected commissioner to the General Council that met in Ottawa. 

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