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United Church of Canada Defends Boycott of Israeli Products: 'The Occupation Has to End

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"We wanted to send a signal that the occupation has to end, that settlements are illegal and they need to ultimately stop"

The United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant church, is defending its call to boycott Israeli products from what it considers to be "illegal" settlements, saying they want to "send a signal that the occupation has to end."

Back in May, the church published a 26-page report on the factors preventing peace between Israel and its neighbors and, according to Haaretz, the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, the construction of the security barrier, and inequitable access to water between Israeli settlers and the West Bank were all all named as the main "obstacles."

Haaretz adds:

The report does not mention the effect terrorist groups like Hamaz and Hezbollah have on the conflict. It mentions the daily rocket attacks from Gaza once, compared to the 64 times that settlements are mentioned.

But the Church said it was time they commit to a firm stance on the conflict.

“The real casualty is the peace process itself," Shimon Foigel, CEO of The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), commented.  "(This decision) liberates Palestinians from having to recognize Israel. It places all the onus on Israel."

It should be noted that the church did say Israel should be defended as the homeland of the Jewish people, just amid roughly 26-pages of criticism.

“We wanted to send a signal that the occupation has to end, that settlements are illegal and they need to ultimately stop constructing them and stop expanding them,” Bruce Gregersen, General Council Officer and senior spokesperson for the church, said. “The overall commitment of the church is very clear: we want a two state solution and the expansion of the settlements is undermining the two state solution.”

Press TV has more:

Canada's National Post writes:

The United Church of Canada is only the latest in a growing list of organizations around the world to have adopted a boycott of such products.

Individual church members are not required to participate in the boycott, but they will be encouraged to do so — and spread the word at the same time.

Those who championed it say on that latter front, success has already been achieved.

“I can’t say whether it’s made a difference in Israel and Palestine,” said former United Church moderator David Giuliano.

“But it’s made a difference already in that it’s generated a lot more discussion in Canadian culture, and I think there’s a greater awareness among Canadians about the situation.”

When asked about the economic ramifications of the boycott, Fogel simply said: “I don’t think Israel will feel any effect economically...In every single case, (boycott movements) have resulted in huge spikes in consumption of Israeli products.”

It seems as though Fogel and many other Israelis are more concerned about being de-legitimized on an international scale by a strong North American ally.

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