The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) averted what some delegates feared could seriously damage Anglican-Jewish dialogue by passing a toned down and pared down alternative to a resolution on the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.
Bishop Michael Hill, of the diocese of Bristol and representing the Church of England, said that, while he did not disagree with the intent of the resolution – originally drafted by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network – to draw attention to the plight of people caught in the conflict, he was concerned that its “tone and volume seems to be on the verge of pretty angry.”
He expressed concern that “intelligent and compassionate voices of Judaism with whom we are in dialogue will immediately construe it to be anti-Semitic and label it as such.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, also spoke out against it, singling out a section that “condemns the judaization of the city (of Jerusalem) by the government of Israel and insists that this process be reversed.” He said “judaization is a word that I cannot, in conscience, accept,” noting that it equates “the political machinations of the Israeli government” with the people of faith in Jewish society.
The archbishop said that he “understands the passion” that drives the resolution and is aware of the Israeli government’s “unjust practice” of buying up land in the Old City of Jerusalem. “It’s clear that we cannot rise in good conscience without saying anything about the level of injustice and the level of suffering” being experienced by Palestinians. But, he said, strength is not achieved by “sabre-rattling.”
The ACC voted to use the alternative resolution, which called on Israel, among others, to end its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; free immediately all settlement building with the intention to abandon its settlement policy in preparation for a Palestinian state; remove the separation barrier (wall) where it violates Palestinian land; and end home demolitions.