Anglican Church of Southern Africa votes to join BDS

4 Oct

People come together in South Africa to protest against Israeli violations on the Palestinian people [BDSsouthafrica/Twitter]

Middle East Monitor, 28 September 2019

The highest and most prominent decision-making body of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) yesterday voted to join and support the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli occupation.

The church – representing Anglican Christian communities in southern African countries including South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola – passed the resolution in the city of Johannesburg during its Provincial Synod, which takes place every three years.

According to the motion which was passed, “the situation in the Holy Land demands the attention of the Christian Church precisely because that is the place where Jesus Christ was born, nurtured, crucified and raised.”

The church also outlined the differences between the Biblical Israel and the modern State of Israel, warning its members not to conflate the two entities, as well as the ideology of Zionism and Judaism.

The ACSA also acknowledged that due to South African’s own experience of apartheid a few decades ago, “Southern Africans have a special responsibility to stand by the oppressed in the same way that others in the international community stood with us during our own oppression.”

READ: The powers that supported Mandela’s arrest are supporting apartheid in Israel today

The resolution was originally introduced to develop practical ways to end and ease the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Anglican Bishop of Namibia Luke Pato told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service: “It is the right time, it is God’s time for the occupation to end and for Palestinians to be liberated.”

Pato added that the resolution is the continuation of the Anglican Church’s long-time support for the Palestinian struggle against the occupation, and comes almost four decades after Archbishop Desmond Tutu led a delegation for the first time to the occupied Palestinian territories in the 1980s.

South African delegates put forward a request to the Anglican Communion Office in the United Kingdom (UK) to vote on a similar resolution in the Lambeth 2020 Conference, which will summon active Anglican bishops from 165 countries around the world next summer.

Palestinian figures have welcomed the resolution, with Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa Hashem Dajani saying: “Palestinians simply want to achieve peace, freedom, justice and dignity, and this resolution is an important step in forcing Israel to comply with international law and end its illegal occupation of Palestine.” Dajani also expressed his hope that other denominations and groups would follow ACSA’s footsteps.

Hamas spokesperson Basem Naim, who spoke from the besieged Gaza Strip, said the decision was an important show of solidarity with the Palestinian people and it “encourages us to continue our struggle against the occupation.”

The Citizen also reported on 30 September 2019:

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has welcomed a decision by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) to support a boycott of Israel.

In a statement released on Sunday, the BDS said more than 4.5 million southern African provincial synods from the ACSA took the decision, representing Anglican communities in countries that include South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola.

“In a motion, now a binding resolution titled ‘Time to act: Solidarity with Palestine’, the church specifically calls for support of the ‘well-directed Boycott, Divestment and Sanction [BDS] actions against the Israeli state until they end their occupation of Palestine’,” BDS spokesperson Tisetso Magama said.

ACSA’s Bishop Luke Pato of Namibia proposed the resolution that was adopted last Thursday.

The synod resolved to condemn “all forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia”, described the situation in Israel and Palestine as “in some respects worse than apartheid” and urged its church members who travel on pilgrimages to Israel to include Palestinian Christians in their itineraries.

The church said Palestinians and Israelis deserved to live in peace and harmony as this would contribute to peace not only in that region, but globally.

Magama said the resolution by the ACSA dispelled the confusion between the modern apartheid state of Israel with the biblical land of Israel.

“BDS South Africa thanks the southern African synod of the Anglican Church for including BDS SA board member Dudu Masango-Mahlangu in their recent meeting. Masango-Mahlangu has consistently been working with churches in southern Africa on the issue of Palestine/Israel.

“We also thank the congregants and leadership of the historic Regina Mundi Church in Soweto for hosting our director, Muhammed Desai, at last week Sunday’s service,” Magama said.

Here are the resolutions on Israel sanctions, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia passed at the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, published 26 September 2019:

Provincial Synod has voted to support non-violent action to end Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, especially “well-directed Boycott, Divestment and Sanction actions”.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday, Synod also:

  • Condemned “all forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia… in the strongest terms”;
  • Described the situation in Israel and Palestine as “in some respects… worse than apartheid”; and
  • Urged church members who travel on pilgrimages to Israel include Palestinian Christians in their itineraries.

The full text of the resolution, which was adopted unanimously, follows:

This Synod noting that:

1. This is the 10th year anniversary of the Palestine Kairos document, a document written by Palestinian Christians for our reflection and action (www.kairospalestine.ps);

2. The South African government has withdrawn its ambassador from Tel Aviv;

3. It is reported that each year a few hundred Palestinian children are held in Israeli jails and there is evidence of human rights violation.

4. Prime Minister Netanyahu has recently said that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens”, a statement which accurately reflects the nation-state law they adopted in 2018;

5. There is considerable environmental damage through injustice in the access to and distribution of water, the uprooting of olive trees and home demolitions, which in turn has led to environmental displacement, adding to the already large number of refugees.

Acknowledging that:

1. The situation in the Holy Land demands the attention of the Christian church precisely because that is the place where Jesus the Christ was born, nurtured, crucified and raised;

2. The current political nation state of Israel and Israel in the Bible should not be confused with each other, and neither should the ideology of Zionism and the religion of Judaism be conflated;

3. Many Christian pilgrimages to the current state of Israel often ignore the Christians living in Palestine;

4. Israel was one of the very few states that continued to support the Apartheid State in South Africa until the very end;

5. There are possible similarities between Apartheid in South Africa and what is happening in Israel and Palestine and that in some respects the situation there can be described as worse than apartheid;

6. Several NGO’s draw attention to the plight of those who suffer in Palestine and Israel, especially Kairos Southern Africa as well as the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), for whose work we are grateful;

7. Southern Africans have a special responsibility to stand by the oppressed in the same way that others in the international community stood with us during our own oppression.

Affirming that

1. Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in peace and harmony as this will contribute to peace not only in that region, but globally;

2. Non-violent solutions underpinned by faith, hope and love, to the challenges there are the only solutions that the Church should actively pursue;

3. Current efforts by the International community are not enough and new initiatives towards peace, justice and reconciliation should be pursued;

4. The presence of the Christian community in Palestine and Israel is something that we should strengthen;

5. The military occupation of Palestine must end as soon as possible;

6. All forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia should be condemned in the strongest terms;

7. Jerusalem should be a place where all the nations are able to gather and it should not be for the exclusive use of one group over another.

Resolves to:

1. Encourage every Diocese within ACSA to pass this or a similar resolution at its next Synod and to work with the South African Council of Churches and its affiliates who have adopted resolutions on Palestine and Israel to seek ecumenical action towards maximum justice and peace for our sisters and brothers there;

2. Educate and inform ourselves as much as possible on the daily reality of the situation and to encourage members of ACSA who travel in the Holy Land to choose an inclusive and balanced itinerary that includes establishing contact with Palestinian Christians;

3. Support any non-violent action, especially well-directed Boycott, Divestment and Sanction actions against the Israeli state until they end their military occupation of Palestine.

4. Pray the following prayer for Palestine: “God bless Palestine, Free all from oppression; and bring justice and peace. Amen.”;

5. Respectfully request ACSA delegates to Lambeth 2020 to pass this resolution on to the Anglican Communion Office for possible consideration and inclusion in the Lambeth 2020 Agenda.

6. To respectfully request ACSA to appoint a Palestinian Study Group to prepare and disseminate study material for use in parishes and dioceses and that will prepare a report on the progress of implementing this resolution at the next Provincial Synod;

7. Pass this resolution on to the Ambassadors of Palestine and Israel who are based in Southern African countries as well as to the Palestinian church leaders, SABEEL and Kairos Palestine.

Proposer: Bishop Luke Pato of Namibia
Seconder: Bishop Charles May of the Highveld

%d bloggers like this: