The Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities has denounced the Church Council of the Church of Sweden for opening an investigation into whether Israel is an “apartheid state.”
Aron Szugalski Verständig, the chair of the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, the Swedish European Jewish Congress affiliate, told Kyrkanstidning magazine that the motion was a watered down version of an original resolution, which was even more extreme. He added that the move by the Church of Sweden has damaged its relationship with Sweden’s Jewish community.
The Church Council adopted a resolution to “raise the issue of reviewing the application of international law in the cases of Israel and Palestine, including in light of the UN Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute on Apartheid, in international and ecumenical bodies, in particular the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.”
The motion singles out only Israel, and does not look into countries in the Middle East and other parts of the world where Christians are persecuted, according to Swedish Jewish leaders.
“In the Church Council’s decision there is an implicit accusation against Israel of being an apartheid state, and this has the effect of delegitimizing the State of Israel,” Verständig said.
He described the Church of Sweden as a “large organization” that has an impact on foreign policy.
“If it chooses to act in foreign policy, it must be consistent. I have no problem with the Church of Sweden supporting Palestinian Christians, but I have not seen the Church Assembly criticize any other country for the poor treatment of Christians there,” he said.
Benjamin Blecher, the president of the Jewish Youth Union of Sweden, said that he is speaking out because “this is not right.” He also accused the Church of Sweden of singling out Israel.
“How can we trust the Church of Sweden’s work against anti-Semitism – it will not be credible if it chooses to conduct investigations into matters that, in our opinion, are false and malicious,” Blecher told Kyrkanstidning. ”To investigate whether Israel is pursuing an apartheid policy, and to give legitimacy to that notion, is something that we find absurd and damaging.”