By Don Plett
At its recent Assembly, the Mennonite Church Canada passed a resolution calling for boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) measures against Israelis.
Specifically, the resolution called on Church bodies and members “to avoid investing in or supporting companies that do business with Israeli settlements and the Israel Defense Forces, and companies that are profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian territories,” and called on the Government of Canada “to support measures that put pressure on Israel (including through economic sanctions).”
As a Mennonite, I am extremely discouraged to see any Mennonite conference in Canada take this stance.
Ever since scripture was translated into common language, over 500 years ago, it has been explicitly clear that the nation of Israel was given a land known as Canaan and that the gift came directly from God himself.
As Christians, we know that biblical text is the written word of God. The message of God when it comes to support for Israel and the Jewish people is abundantly clear, and is illustrated in several examples of scripture.
In Genesis 12:3 (NIV), God is speaking to Abraham as he says: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Many Christians believe that history has shown that those nations who have blessed the Jewish people have received the blessing of God; while the nations who have cursed the Jewish people have experienced the curse of God.
Likewise, scripture tell us that Christians are indebted to Jews, as their contributions gave birth to the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul recorded in Romans 15:27 (NIV), “They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.”
And, of course, the Bible confirms that the Lord Jesus Christ was a practicing Orthodox Jew.
However, most Christians’ support for Israel goes well beyond scripture. The historical legitimacy of Israel, in all of its territory, as a nation is indisputable. And, as it stands today, Israel is a nation of democratic choice, individual freedom and modern thought standing alone in the middle of backwards, regressive dictatorships.
It goes without saying that there will be times when we, as Christians and as individuals, will have ideological differences with the political leaders of Israel, as we will with any nation’s government. However, Mennonite Church Canada has taken an extreme position against Israel, which I maintain is in direct contradiction to the written word of God.
We need to remember that, with the exception of Israel, all nations were created by mankind. Israel was created by an act of God. This is something that needs to remain sacred, and on our support for Israel, Christians need to remain consistent.
As a Mennonite and as a Christian, I would like to make it explicitly clear that, despite the name of the conference, Mennonite Church Canada does not speak for all Mennonites in adopting this ill-advised resolution.
Editor’s Note: A reply was issued by Dan Dyck, Director of Church Engagement Communications, Mennonite Church Canada. It can be found here.