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Powerful testimonies before our weekly Westminster protests

On Tuesday 6th February, we start a series of short weekly protests outside Westminster Abbey. We shall be asking Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to call out the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. We start with a photo opportunity at 5 pm sharp, so try to get there early. In the videos below two people explain why these events are so important to them. First, there is a short and passionate clip from David Goldberg, of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP).

Then Dr. Nicola Grove, a Quaker and Anglican explains what this means to her. 

We also reproduce a powerful letter from the retired Canon Peter Liddell, published in the Church Times. He underlines how far the Church of England is falling short of its mission concerning Israel and Palestine. However, he ends up suggesting that it could redeem itself.

The Church has 26 seats in the House of Lords and this could help render inoperable the Economic Activities of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, the so-called "Anti-Boycott Bill". If they manage to do this, they will render an inestimable service to the country, ridding it of a dreadful piece of legislation that criminalises ethical choices that counter the government agenda, and provides extraodinary protection to Israeli interests.

Letter in Church Times, 26th January, from the Revd Dr Peter Liddell

Sir, — The Bishop of Southwark’s public statement after his visit to Israel and the Occupied West Bank is encouraging. He met, listened, shared, supported, comforted, and determined that “it is important that we listen intently . . ., uphold them in our prayers, and offer whatever practical support we can to sustain them.”

This prompts the question: what practical support is the Church of England providing? The examples below show that, in common with most Western Churches, it has a lot of ground to make up.

First, in September 2020, I wrote to all diocesan and suffragan bishops asking them to support a Day of Action after the Israeli Supreme Court’s historic ruling to defend Palestinians from settler attack and land thefts and to ensure their rights. Its headline was “Palestine Burns”. But, in June 2020, no bishop signed a cross-party petition in favour of sanctioning Israel if it annexed the West Bank (Letters, 12 June 2020).

Second, on 30 November, 68 bishops and Christian leaders called for a ceasefire in Gaza. But our Primates are not among the leaders of other Churches who signed.

The ground that Churches such as the C of E must recover is demonstrated in the devastating words of the Bethlehem Lutheran pastor Munther Isaac: “The Bible is weaponised against us”; “We will not accept your apology after the genocide”; “They send us bombs while celebrating Christmas”; and “They sing about the Prince of Peace in their own land while playing the drum of war.”

It is also high time the Church recognised the underlying agenda of Zionist and Israeli leaders, illustrated by the following statements: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places,” Ben Gurion, 1937; “There is no such thing as Palestinians,” Golda Meir, 1969; “Grab the hilltops. Everything we don’t grab will go to them,” Ariel Sharon, 1998. In 2023, Benjamin Netanyahu claimed divine right to destroy the Amalekites, and his henchmen called for Gazans to emigrate to Egypt.

Interestingly, Sir Vincent Feane, of the Balfour Project, has just presented the Church with a “Get-out-of-jail card”: an opportunity to start redeeming itself from past errors. He asks the House of Lords to render inoperable the Economic Activities of Public Bodies Bill. This obtuse and extreme legislation singles out Israel and its illegal settlements for exceptional protection from disinvestment or non-procurement decisions taken by public bodies. It also undermines longstanding, bipartisan British foreign policy, by treating illegal settlements as if they were part of Israel.

I appeal to the Lords Spiritual to respond to Sir Vincent’s call.

PETER LIDDELL, 25 St Marys Court, Welwyn AL6 9AU


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