SAFI Rejects Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s hateful anti-Israel resolution

10 Oct 2019

SAFI Rejects Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s hateful anti-Israel resolution

The South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) is gravely concerned over the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA)’s anti-Israel resolution passed at its recent Provincial Synod. This resolution begins by decrying all forms of antisemitism, but ends in an antisemitic call to target and sanction the one and only Jewish State for harmful boycott actions. It remains silent on all other human rights concerns including Palestinian attacks on Christian freedoms in cities such as Bethlehem. 

The resolution makes the preposterous claim that the land of Israel should not be “confused” with the Israel of the Bible. It appears that the confusion lies with ACSA. Israel is the only nation on earth that exists on the same land, speaks the same language and indeed prays to the same God that it did thousands of years ago. We dismiss with contempt the cynical attempt by the Anglican Church to disconnect the Jews from their religious and spiritual homeland.

Perhaps even more concerning is the resolution’s despicable attempt to sever the intrinsic and unbreakable connection between Judaism and Zionism. For two thousand years, Jerusalem has been a spiritual-beacon in the soul of Jews in exile and fueled their desire to return to Zion in freedom and self-determination. To this day, Jews praying anywhere in the Diaspora turn to face Jerusalem. Jerusalem and its alternate name, Zion, is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. Zionism is built into the very fabric of Judaism, and any attempt to unravel this is utterly rejected.  

Despite the flawed claims of the ACSA resolution, Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East. The country holds regular democratic elections, upholds the rule of law through a judiciary that is independent of government, allows all people the right to freedom of expression and association, and most crucially, freedom of religion. Arab citizens of Israel enjoy the same full rights which all citizens enjoy and are represented across the board in Israeli society. It should also be noted that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the number of Christians is growing; everywhere else, ancient Christian communities have been decimated by continual persecution and intolerance. It is telling that the resolution fails to stand up for ACSA’s Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East. 

The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is long and complex. It is disappointing that the Church did not bother to consult or engage the Jewish community of South Africa. As a result, the resolution contains several blatant lies about the Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the role of Israel in the international community. This resolution promotes a false one sided narrative of the conflict and does nothing to promote peace and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. It is unfortunate that the resolution even goes against the international Anglican community, which has sought to fight antisemitism in the church. Indeed it flies in the face of the recent adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism by the College of Bishops in England, including its full endorsement by the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

We call on the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to withdraw this controversial and damaging resolution, convincingly to reject antisemitism in its ranks, and to investigate how it allowed this resolution to pass. The church should focus on building bridges, not boycotts, and to suspend any plans to spread anti-Jewish prejudice throughout Southern Africa. 

Rowan Polovin

National Chairman - South African Friends of Israel