Anglican Church of Southern Africa votes to support boycott of Israel

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The highest decision-making body of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) on Thursday unanimously resolved to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel until that state ended its military occupation of Palestine.

The resolution was passed in Johannesburg  at the Church’s Provincial Synod, which takes place every three years and represents Anglican communities in South Africa as well as Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland), Mozambique, Angola and St Helena.

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According to the resolution, “the situation in the Holy Land demands the attention of the Christian Church precisely because that is the place where Jesus Christ was born, nurtured, crucified and raised.”

The resolution also cautions against conflating the current nation-state of Israel with Biblical Israel. A differentiation was also made between the political ideology of Zionism and the religion of Judaism.

Condemning anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the strongest terms, the ACSA resolution also acknowledged that there were similarities between Apartheid South Africa and what is happening in occupied Palestine and that in some respects the situation there can be described as worse than Apartheid. It is for this reason, the resolution notes that “Southern Africans have a special responsibility to stand by the oppressed in the same way that others in the international community stood with us during our own oppression.”

According to the Anglican Bishop of Namibia, Luke Pato, the resolution was introduced at the Synod to develop practical ways of ending the occupation. “It is the right time, it is God’s time for the occupation to end and for Palestinians to be liberated,” Pato told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.

Pato – who seconded the resolution – explained that the resolution was a continuation of the Anglican Church’s long-standing support of the Palestinian liberation struggle, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu first led a delegation to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in the 1980’s.

Southern African delegates will also request that the Anglican Communion Office in the United Kingdom consider a similar resolution for inclusion on the agenda of the Lambeth 2020 Conference, which next year brings together active Anglican bishops from 165 countries worldwide.

The resolution also encourages every diocese within the Anglican Church to pass a similar resolution at their next Synod and to work with the South African Council of Churches to achieve justice for the Palestinians.

Palestinians have welcomed the passing of the resolution.

“Palestinians simply want to achieve peace, freedom, justice and dignity, and this resolution is an important step in forcing Israel to comply with international law and end its illegal occupation of Palestine,” Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service. Dajani hoped that other denominations and groups would replicate the Anglican Church resolution.

Speaking from the besieged Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesperson, Basem Naim, said that the resolution was an important show of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their cause and “encourages us to continue our struggle against the occupation.”

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