Reverend John Peters is Superintendent Minister of Alfreton Methodist Circuit. Rev. Peters has served in the Methodist Ministry for over forty years. Here he writes about the commonly held opinion of Israel amongst Methodist communities.
The UK Jewish community will be rightly concerned the recent Methodist Conference set up a working-party to examine the pros and cons of Boycotting Israel. The wound is still raw from the Israel-bashing of the 2010 Methodist Conference, which made the lamentable decision to boycott Israeli settlement goods.
My position is that the Boycott movement should be rejected.
Israel has made difficult and brave territorial concessions over the years in an effort to obtain peace, including uprooting Jewish homes and withdrawing from Gaza in 2005. Sadly, in return there has been an increase in attacks and sustained bombardment from Qassam rockets, shells and missiles in the South. To punish Israel for Hamas' actions by forcing a boycott is deeply unfair.
65% of Israeli Citizens would like to see a two-state solution and want to live side-by-side at peace with their Palestinian neighbours. This is most likely to be achieved through coexistence. Boycotts drive the sides apart which can only breed further mistrust.
This June, I was privileged to visit Sderot with the Jewish Leadership Council and see first-hand the devastating human cost of rocket attacks. Our delegation met with a range of politicians, academics, Jewish religious leaders and Palestinian Christians. After these meetings, it became clear that simply adjusting boundary-lines on a map will not bring a lasting peace; this is why boycotts only bring further harm to both sides of the conflict.
I am extremely sceptical as to whether the boycott report will be balanced. The working group is being led by an official who was central to the 2010 Israel-bashing. Whatever the outcome of the report may be, boycotts are much more of a hindrance than a help in achieving peace.