The Role of Churches in Boycotts: Saying No to Illegal West Bank Settlement Goods

The Role of Religious Institutions in Boycotts: Churches & Religious Groups Say No to West Bank Goods

Church groups have also taken up the cause of the BDS movement and are regularly speaking out against the manufacturing of illegal products in the West Bank settlements.

Below are just a few examples of some recent actions, both in Canada and abroad.

In the UK, the United Methodist Church voted to oppose settlement goods in 2010.

Just this past August 2012, the United Church of Canada at its 41st. General Council meeting in Ottawa voted to boycott products exported by Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Nora Sanders, General Secretary of the United Church of Canada wrote to John Baird, Foregin Affairs Minister in February , asking that products from the West Bank be identified and distinguished from those made in Israel
Sanders asked Baird to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement to exclude settlement products. The Europeam Union has a free trade agreement which does just that.

If Canadians want to avoid settlement products when they shop right now it is very difficult to do so since both products made in Israel and in the settlements are labelled as “Made in Israel” the United Church believes the Canadian government should follow the European example and establish labelling guidelines for retailers that allow Canadian consumers to make an informed choice about a purchase
Because these prodcts are not distinguishable from products made in Israel they receive preferential tariff treatment under the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.

The Mennonite Central Committee of Manitoba passed a resolution on June 5, 2013 to ensure that any of its investments do not, “contribute to the suffering of Palestinian people, or any other people groups.”

Moreover, MCC Manitoba Executive Director, Ronald Janzen replied: “we also want to avoid investing in any companies that produce products and services that harm Israelis. We’re against all violence and human suffering.”

Furthermore, Mr. Janzen emphasizes that this policy does not represent a boycott of Israeli products, it is an opportunity for the MCC to examine its investment portfolio to ensure that they are not invested in any companies that would potentially benefit from the tragedy and suffering of the Palestinian people.

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