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Methodist Preacher to Sue Church Over Anti-Israel Boycott

A Methodist preacher is planning to sue his own British-based church over a virulent anti-Israel boycott officially approved in July.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 10/3/2010, 10:13 AM / Last Update: 10/3/2010, 10:38 AM

A Methodist preacher is planning to sue his own British-based church over its anti-Israel policies.

Pastor David Hallam, 62, said he has asked attorney Paul Diamond to fight a resolution passed this summer by the Methodist Church -- the fourth-largest Christian denomination in Britain -- promoting a boycott against Israeli goods produced in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The resolution was heartily supported by Palestinian Authority Christians.

The British Board of Deputies, which represents the country's Jews, broke off all contact with the leadership of the Methodist Church over the issue.  

Britain's Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sachs, also slammed the resolution, saying it represents a "one-sided judgment of one of the most complex conflicts in the world." He added that it would do "nothing to advance the cause of peace," in his response to the 54-page report containing the resolution and 10 others that blamed Israel's "occupation" of Judea and Samaria and the "key hindrance" to Middle East peace. The report was officially accepted at the church's five-day conference in July.

“What I object to is money which I am putting on the collection plate on a Sunday being used to fund a political campaign against the Jewish State,” Hallam, a former Labour MEP, told the British Telegraph in a report published Sunday. “This is both discriminatory and a misuse of a charity's funds.”

Diamond, an expert on human rights law and religious law, is expected to argue the church's resolution violates European human rights laws and European Union directives on racism. The attorney will reportedly accuse the church of deliberately discriminating against Israel by focusing its attention solely on the beleagured Jewish State, rather than including in its boycott other countries with  human rights records that are undeniably horrendous.

“The Methodist Church seems to think it has a God-given right to tell Jews how to run their affairs,” added Hallam. “It is very disturbing we are getting involved in a territory where we don't have any members or churches.”

A spokesman for the church denied the charges, saying, “The report was debated and received by the annual Methodist Conference, which is the governing body of the Church and is democratic and representative of the whole Church, and which voted for each resolution. As Christians, we take from the parable of the Good Samaritan and the life of Jesus that we cannot turn out back on injustice just because it is not geographically near to us.”