They have put a survey up on the web, at http://www.methodist.org.uk/bdsbriefing. Although they will certainly do their best to ignore any responses urging them to act responsibly, many people who are not anti-Israel are filling out the survey. Please join them.
The following are the questions and responses by Beryl Ratzer, a fellow resident of Netanya (although, unlike me, she lives there all year), a licensed Israeli tour guide (she's excellent; if you're looking for a guide while you're in Israel, you won't find a better one) and the author of "A Historical Tour of the Holy Land."
Beryl also periodically sends out very interesting emails and is in the midst of a series she calls "Points to Ponder," which are also available on her web site, http://www.ratzer.com. The fifth in the series contains her answers to the survey. We include it below with Beryl's permission.
To my family, friends and readers, Shalom
'Points to Ponder' 5 is a bit longer than usual because it includes my answers to all 14 questions raised by the Methodist church concerning their plans to decree a boycott of Israel. http://www.methodist.org.uk/bdsbriefing
In no way can this be seen as an attack on the theology of the Methodist church although I must confess that, based on my knowledge and understanding of Christianity, not only from my studies but also from guiding groups of all denominations and listening to the words of their pastors, priests, vicars, rectors and reverends, I do have a problem with 'replacement theology'.
Here then are the questions and my answers. Please feel free to pass this on to your friends and colleagues. If you no longer wish to receive 'Points to Ponder' do not hesitate to ask to be removed from my mailing list.
1. What do you understand to be the motivation/inspiration behind the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in relation to Israel?
As the Methodist Church has not called for a boycott of China for its occupation of Tibet or of Turkey for its occupation of Northern Cyrus, to name but two of many, many occupations world-wide, I have no doubt in my mind that the motivation for this particular call is motivated and inspired purely and only by anti-Semitism.
Not to acknowledge this is hypocrisy/dishonest/denial. You choose.
2. In your view, what would be the essential elements of any peace agreement in Israel/Palestine?
Every peace agreement ever signed has been the result of negotiations between the two sides to the conflict without interference from any power, state, church or person not directly involved in the conflict.
Over the last twenty five years Israel has shown a genuine desire for an agreement with the Palestinians and made innumerable gestures and concessions to further reaching such an agreement.
From the Oslo Accords in 1993; Oslo II in 1195; the Wye Agreement in 1998; Camp David in 2000; the Geneva Accord in 2003 through to the disengagement from Gaza and Northern Samaria in 2005, every single one has been broken by the Palestinians.
And worse still, in each successive one the Palestinians, egged on by the Scandinavians and EU and UK supporters, have introduced new demands and conditions not mentioned in the previous one.
Please, don't take my word for it. Take the time to check out each of the afore-mentioned agreements and compare them.
Essential in any agreement will have to be Palestinian acceptance of a fact which the Palestinians are denying, with the support of replacement theology Christians. That Israel has an unbroken history in this land which goes back three millennia.
Another essential is that the Palestinians change their school curriculum and, instead of praising terrorism and encouraging children to aspire to becoming 'shahids', suicide bombers, they condemn all acts of terrorism and teach towards peace with Israel, just as in Israeli schools there are numerous outreach programs in which Israeli and Palestinian children can meet.
Israeli children sing songs of peace. Palestinian children sing songs of martyrdom and conquest.
Once again, don't just take my word for it. Check out some of the PA TV programs for children.
3. Do you support a boycott of products produced within Israeli settlements?
I do not support the idea of an organised boycott anywhere as I believe it to counter the very basic idea of freedom to have an open society which can freely exchange ideas and viewpoints and as invariably innocent people are often affected.
In that same framework of an open society as long as there is no organised boycott and all products are on the shelves everyone is free to purchase whatever he chooses.
4. Do you support the call for a wider consumer boycott of all Israeli products?
As I wrote in the previous question, I do not support boycotts anywhere or at any time.
In point of fact, neither does the Methodist Church or else it would be boycotting China, Turkey and goodness knows how many other cruel and inhumane countries throughout Asia and Africa in particular for their mistreatment of women and of children. Not to mention of course a boycott of Egypt for its massacre of Christian Copts.
5. If you answer 'Yes' to Question 4, what changes would you need to see to be content to end your boycott?
Although I answered NO to question 4 I must say that quite honestly I do not see that the Methodist Church has any standing in demanding any changes from Israel, or for that matter, from any other country.
6. What are the arguments against a consumer boycott of all Israeli products? What are the risks?
Although not a member of the Methodist Church I believe Church members should vote against a boycott of Israeli products in order to make it clear to all and sundry that the call for boycott is not a cover for blatant anti-Semitism in the Methodist Church and its theology.
Should the Church include in its call for a boycott such places as China for its occupation of Tibet, Turkey for its occupation of Northern Cyprus, Saudi Arabia for its mistreatment of women, Iran for its death sentences, Egypt for its massacre of Christian Copts, to name but a few addresses, then at least it would appear that human rights and not anti-Semitism is the clarion call.
But until then, calling to boycott only Israel reeks of anti-Semitism. But then, perhaps I am missing the point and the Methodist Church is in fact anti-Semitic.
7. If you do not support the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, could you ever see yourself supporting such a call in the future? Under what circumstances?
Once again, I do not believe in an organised BDS doctrine anywhere against anyone. As for the individual, one has complete freedom of choice to buy or not buy whatever one chooses.
8. What message does the call for a consumer boycott of Israel communicate to the general public? (please specify whether you are answering with reference to the public in the UK, in Israel, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or elsewhere)
In general the call to boycott Israeli products will be met with approval by all those supporting the Palestinian claims that Israel is a modern apartheid Nazi state committing a modern holocaust on the Palestinians (which is of course all totally incorrect), whether they be in the UK, Israel or anywhere else.
However, that small minority of thinking people which examines the false premises in greater depth cannot but question the Methodist Church for its desire to boycott only Israel.
9. Do you support an academic boycott of Israel? Please explain your reasoning
An academic boycott of Israeli universities and colleges is the very antitheses of the idea of freedom to have an open society which can freely exchange ideas and viewpoints.
Apart from the ideological contradiction, those who boycott Israel's academia and consequently the inventions and innovations originating in them will be cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
What a loss to be unable to have a miniature camera invented in Israel painlessly examine ones intestines, to be unable to use the innovative medications coming from Israel, to be unable to use the tiny computer chips manufactured in Israel in one's computer. The list is endless.
Or is the boycott to be selective? Don't boycott all that is vital???
10. Do you support a cultural boycott of Israel? Please explain your reasoning.
If culture, as the Oxford dictionary defines it, is 'intellectual development' how does one develop culturally by a blanket boycott of a culture that has existed for three thousand years and has influenced innumerable other cultures throughout the world?
Closing oneself to any other culture is bigoted, racist, discriminatory and stultifying. There are probably a lot more words I could add.
11. Under what circumstances, if any, should the Methodist Church divest from companies operating in Israel?
Divestment is the Church's free choice but it shouldn't have to be backed by an ideology or theology.
Generally one invests money where there are good returns. If the investment is bad, divest. If not, why divest?
12. Should the UK government or European Union impose trade or other restrictions on economic relationships with Israel or alternatively limited restrictions on economic engagement with settlements? If so what form should such sanctions take?
As I don't believe in such restrictions and as neither the UK or EU or any other such country or group of counties are applying any sanctions against China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Egypt, for reasons which I have already given, I fail to understand why sanctions should be imposed on Israel.
13. What actions other than BDS might members of the Methodist Church take to encourage a political process that could deliver a just and sustainable resolution in Israel and Palestine?
So far all the actions taken by the Methodist Church have merely resulted in more intransigency and heightened demands on the part of the Palestinians, as explained in my earlier responses.
As the Methodist Church has absolutely no standing in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians the church should, in plain English, butt out.
14. Is there any further theological or other comment that you would like to make in relation to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions or are there papers or other resources that you would highlight?
Methodist theology is Methodist theology and not mine to criticize but perhaps it is the reason for the shrinking membership in your church.
It is a pity that the one-sided perspective to the Palestinian-Israeli problem has prevented your members from getting a deeper insight into that problem by delving into the many papers and resources available. Should you require some suggestions I will be only too happy to send them to you.
To intelligently form an opinion one needs to investigate all aspects of a problem. Sadly the Methodist Church has not done that.