Jewish organisations criticise Church of Sweden’s ‘Israel apartheid investigation’

The Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities has criticised a decision by the Church Council of the Church of Sweden to conduct an investigation whether Israel is an apartheid state.

The Church Council adopted a motion “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.”

According to Aron Szugalski Verständig, Chairman of the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, the original motion was even worse than what was adopted, and has had the effect of damaging relations between the Church of Sweden and Sweden’s Jewish communities.

The adopted motion still singles out the only Jewish state, whilst failing the address the situation in countries in the Middle Eastt and elsewhere where Christians are persecuted.

“In the Church Council’s decision there is an implicit accusation against Israel of being an apartheid state, and this has the effect of deligitimising the State of Israel,” Verständig said.

“The Church of Sweden is a large organisation. 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 criticise any other country for the poor treatment of Christians there,” he continued.

For his part, Benjamin Blecher, President of the Jewish Youth Union of Sweden, said: “What the Church of Sweden says is important to many people, so we are going out and saying ‘Well, this is not right’. If you want conflict resolution, I think it’s better to focus on resolving conflicts, rather than singling out different parties.”

“How can we trust the Church of Sweden’s work against antisemitism – it will not be credible if it chooses to conduct investigations into matters that, in our opinion, are false and malicious,” Blecher added,  “to investigate whether Israel is pursuing an apartheid policy, and to give legitimacy to that notion, is something that we find absurd and damaging.”

The Official Council of Swedish Jewish communities is the country’s EJC affiliate.


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