United Church of Canada’s Israeli boycott campaign called 'anti-semetic'

05/12/13 11:37 PM ET
twitter.com/TristinHopperThe United Church of Canada’s newest Israeli boycott campaign, this
one targeted at consumer items manufactured in the West Bank, was
condemned this week as “nothing less than an assault on the Jewish
people,” by the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“The echoes of the past history of Church-sanctioned antisemitism
continue to grow stronger,” said Avi Benlolo, president of the Centre,
in a Tuesday statement that also accused the 500,000-strong church of
giving “tacit support for the hatred and terror” against the Jewish
The boycott in question, Unsettling Goods,
urges church members to avoid a laundry list of consumer products, from
plastic sheds to skin creams to carbonation devices, that are
manufactured by Israeli companies with operations on land occupied since
the 1967 Six Day War.
“As the church, we are once again being asked to strive to live out
God’s mission in the world. Much is before us. Much is at stake,” wrote
Right Rev. Gary Paterson in a November letter to church members
announcing ramp-up of the campaign.
We join with many others striving to bring peace with justice to the Holy Land

“With these efforts, we join with many others striving to bring peace with justice to the Holy Land,” he added.

For now, Unsettling Goods has zeroed in on three main Israeli
manufacturers: The cosmetics firm Ahava, which exports skin products
made from Dead Sea mud, Keter Plastics, a manufacturer of sheds, fences
and outdoor furniture, and SodaStream, the makers of high-end kitchen
devices to carbonate tap water.
Churchgoers are also urged to target retailers carrying the products,
such as Canadian Tire, The Bay, Home Depot and Walmart—although they
are not specifically asked to avoid these companies altogether.
In a Thursday statement, the pro-Israeli sanctions Jewish group Independent Jewish Voices praised the United Church campaign.

“Characterizing boycott efforts as anti-Semitic is an outrageous
misuse of the term,” said organizer Tyler Levitan in a statement. ‘‘The
Israel lobby, unable to defend Israel’s occupation and brutal treatment
of the Palestinian people, can only slur those who support Palestinian
human rights.”
The campaign even has a theme song, courtesy of jazz musician Tony
Quarrington. “These fragrant bath salts come from the West Bank/Come
from the Dead Sea, where hopes can die too.”
For years, organizers with the United Church of Canada, Canada’s
largest Protestant church, have fixated on the Jewish state as a prime
focus of its international work.
Unsettling Goods was first approved by church membership in August,
2012, after what was reportedly deep disagreement within the
organization’s ranks.
Characterizing boycott efforts as anti-Semitic is an outrageous misuse of the term

“It singles out Israel in a way that is so fundamentally unhelpful,”
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs CEO Shimon Fogel told Postmedia
News in 2012.
A coalition of nine Liberal and Conservative senators also drafted a
letter condemning the United Church campaign for implying that “Israel
is guilty and the Palestinians the only injured party.”
Long before the ramp-up of Unsettling Goods, all three companies
targeted by Unsettling Goods were the focus of other North American