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Conservative applause for Katharine Jefferts Schori: The Church of England Newspaper, April 13, 2012 p 7. April 17, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Israel, The Episcopal Church.
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Conservative groups in the United States have applauded Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s rejection of divestment from Israel, saying they hope her words guide the churches’ debates on boycotting Israel.

In a 25 March 2012 speech in Los Angeles, Bishop Jefferts Schori stated “the Episcopal Church does not endorse divestment or boycott.”  She told those attending a “Middle East Peacemakers” luncheon that “a two-state solution with a dignified home for Palestinians and for Israelis” and for “deeper engagement, people of different traditions eating together, listening to each other’s stories” was the way forward for peace in the region.

“It’s not going to be helpful to endorse divestment or boycotts of Israel. It will only end in punishing Palestinians economically,” the presiding bishop said.

The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani told the luncheon that he hoped Anglicans would continue to show their solidarity with their compatriots in Israel and Palestine.  Building Christian institutions was a major goal of the diocese, he said, as “we are losing so many young families and young people who leave and look for a better future outside our land,” the bishop said.

Jerusalem must “remain open for all,” the Bishop said, adding, “We need your support to work for peace and justice.”

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East, a pro-Israel lobbying group, applauded the Presiding Bishop’s comments.

“We are totally supportive of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori,” said the Rev. Bruce Chilton, Professor of Religion at Bard College and Fair Witness Executive Committee member.  “Fair Witness has long held that if the American Church can play a role in ending the occupation and bringing peace to this region it will be by helping to build up a viable sovereign Palestinian state through economic investment, while simultaneously avoiding boycott and divestment to allay the parties’ fear and distrust so they can find their way back to the negotiating table and a just two-state solution.”

“Prophetic Christian peacemaking is not a particularly easy venture,” he said, noting that “far too often we fall into the trap of simplistic blame casting, accusing either the Palestinians or the Israelis of not wanting peace and seeking to punish whichever party we perceive to be in the wrong.  But that approach only hardens leaders on both sides and makes it less likely that they will take the brave step of returning to the negotiating table and making the necessary compromises.”

“I am pleased and proud to see my church take such a highly principled and productive stand,” Dr Chilton said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.