Church of Scotland – The Inheritance of Abraham. A Report on the ‘Promised Land’

Church of Scotland

The report attached below, which was published recently on the website of the Church of Scotland, was subsequently removed from the site, most probably at the pressure of the Jewish lobby in Great Britain, and replaced with the following statement:

The Church of Scotland and representatives of the Jewish Community in Scotland and the United Kingdom, held useful discussions facilitated by the Council of Christians and Jews this afternoon (Thursday 8 May). We agreed that the drafting of the report published by the Church and Society Council for discussion at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has given cause for concern and misunderstanding of its position and requires a new introduction to set the context for the report and give clarity about some of the language used.

In particular the Church of Scotland needs to be explicit about some things that are implicit policies of the Church:

  • There is no change in the Church of Scotland’s long held position of the right of Israel to exist.
  • The Church condemns all violence and acts of terrorism, where ever they happen in the world.
  • The concern of the Church about the injustices faced by the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories remain firm, but that concern should not be misunderstood as questioning the right of the State of Israel to exist.
  • That the Church condemns all things that create a culture of anti Semitism.

There is an equal sense of concern amongst both communities for justice and peace for all the people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Sitting round the table and listening to each other more deeply has created a real opportunity for both communities to better understand each other and that this report now becomes a catalyst for continued and growing conversation.

The two communities have agreed to work together both here and in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to continue what was a very positive dialogue.

Church and Society Council, Church of Scotland
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Board of Deputies of British Jews
Movement for Reform Judaism
Rabbis for Human Rights

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You may download and read below the document that was removed from the CoS website.

Church of Scotland – The Inheritance of Abraham. A report on the ‘promised land’

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Here are the conclusions of the report:

Conclusion

From this examination of the various views in the Bible about the relation of land to the people of God, it can be concluded that Christians should not be supporting any claims by Jewish or any other people, to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory. It is a misuse of the Bible to use it as a topographic guide to settle contemporary conflicts over land. In the Bible, God’s promises extend in hope to all land and people. Focussed as they are on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, these promises call for a commitment in every place to justice in a spirit of reconciliation.

In the context of the present situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory we remain committed to the following principles, previously set out and agreed by the General Assembly (the years indicate Deliverances passed which back up these points):

  • That the current situation is characterised by an inequality in power and therefore reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the blockade of Gaza, are ended. (2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012)
  • The Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal under International Law. The Church of Scotland, individuals and civil organisations should urge the UK government and the international community as a matter of urgency to put pressure on Israel to cease from the expansion of these settlements. (2003, 2006, 2011)
  • The Church of Scotland must remain in dialogue and fellowship with ecumenical partners to support concerns for justice and peace. (2002, 2006, 2011, 2012)
  • That the Church of Scotland should do nothing to promote the viability of the illegal settlements on Palestinian land. (2006, 2011, 2012)
  • The Church of Scotland should support projects which prioritise peace-building, poverty alleviation and the Palestinian economy. (2006, 2011, 2012)
  • That human rights of all peoples should be respected but this should include the right of return and / or compensation for Palestinian refugees. (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2012)
  • That negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority about peace with justice must resume at the earliest opportunity and the Church of Scotland should continue to put political pressure on all parties to commence such negotiations, and asking all parties to recognise the inequality in power which characterises this situation. (2007, 2009, 2012)
  • That there are safe rights of access to the sacred sites for the main religions in the area. (2006, 2007)

 

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Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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