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United Church of Canada Launches BDS Campaign

Largest Canadian Protestant denomination boycotts 3 Israeli companies, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center decries as anti-Semitism.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 12/4/2013, 2:33 PM

Illustration: protester demonstrating
Illustration: protester demonstrating
Thinkstock

The United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant denomination, this week launched its "Unsettling Goods" campaign to boycott three Israeli companies, Ahava, Keter Plastics and SodaStream, all of which have factories in Judea and Samaria.

Aside from urging its members to boycott the three companies, the United Church intends to pressure Canada-based marketing chains Canadian Tire, The Bay, Home Depot and Walmart to stop carrying the Israeli products.

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) denounced the church's boycott, noting "the church does not currently have any campaigns which address the ongoing slaughter of Christians in Muslim countries around the world, nor does it make any statement of support that recognizes Israel's right to exist."

"Despite Hamas' repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews, based on Article 13 of the Hamas Covenant, which states 'There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad'..., and despite calls by Fatah officials for a third violent intifada against Israel, the United Church sees fit to pray for a successful boycott against Jewish businesses in Israel, while ignoring the ongoing incitement to violence and genocide against Israel and Jews coming from Palestinian leaders," said FSWC President and CEO Avi Benlolo.

Benlolo added that the "call to prayer for anti-Israel boycotts is nothing less than an assault on the Jewish people by the United Church. The echoes of the past history of Church-sanctioned antisemitism continue to grow stronger."

B'nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights organization, has likewise attacked the boycott.

On Tuesday an anti-Israel demonstration was held in front of a downtown Toronto Canadian Tire store, aiming to boycott SodaStream products. In November a similar radical-leftist demonstration in Vancouver targeted SodaStream.

In response, Frank Dimant, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, remarked that SodaStream "employs 500 Palestinians as well as 400 additional Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem at its Ma’ale Adumim manufacturing facility alone," adding that if the United Church "would only take the time to examine the facts, they would realize who they really are hurting."

The tensions in Toronto revealed motives behind the protest as well, suggests Dimant. According to him, during the protest "the National Vice President for B'nai Brith Canada, a visible Jew, was unduly harassed as he attempted to enter the store and was summarily accused of being a religious fanatic, suggesting what we fear may be at the base of it all -- anti-Semitism."