by Michael Gray, CommonSpace, 4th January 2017
THE CHRISTIAN GROUPING the Iona Community has declared its support for the ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ (BDS) movement of the Israeli state as a method to bring peace and justice to Palestine and the peoples of the Middle East.
A new policy position, following a six month process and discussions with “Palestinian and Jerwish friends in Scotland”, was arrived at as part of the community’s peace campaigning efforts.
The Christian group, headquartered in Glasgow with community sites on Iona and Mull, states that criticism of so-called ‘Christian Zionism’ is required to cease injustice in the “settler colonial project” on historic Palestinian land.
The statement coincides with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 statement by the UK foreign secretary promising to create the state of Israel.
The policy statement reads: “Successive, fruitless peace processes have allowed Israel to stall for time as it seeks to complete the takeover of Palestinian land and the forced removal of its inhabitants through its continuing colonial policy of building and expanding settlements.
“The efforts of international bodies have proved ineffective in resisting Israel’s actions, and further pressure is now needed worldwide from all who are concerned: we believe the time to act is now.
“We support the demands of the BDS movement that Israel should abide by international law and United Nations resolutions by: ending the military occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the siege of Gaza; abolishing all laws which discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel; and granting all Palestinian refugees the right to return.”
The shift in one of Scotland’s most politically active Christian organisations follows the United Nations security council vote that condemned the illegal building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land on 23 December 2016.
The 2009 ‘Kairos Palestine’ document of Palestinian Christians called for solidarity from international faith groups to support peace campaigning in the Middle East.
Hind Khoury, Secretary General of Kairos Palestine in Bethlehem, addressed a plenary of the Iona Community in October 2016.
Leader of the Iona Community, Peter Macdonald said: “In their commitment to justice and peace, many members of the Iona Community have worked in Israel / Palestine. When the Palestinian Christians called for international solidarity in ‘Kairos Palestine’, the Iona Community helped to launch Kairos in Britain. We make clear that a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians is dependent on an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
The BDS movement is supported by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Scottish Green Party, while targeted action has been supported by senior SNP MPs like Tommy Sheppard and Philippa Whitford.