Rev. Mardi Tinsdall, Moderator
Rev. Nora Sanders, Executive Secretary
The United Church of Canada
Dear Reverends Tinsdall and Sanders,
The Vancouver-based Seriously Free Speech Committee (SFSC) was founded in 2008 to defend activists who were being sued by Canwest for producing a parody of The Vancouver Sun’s one-sided coverage of Palestine and Israel. We have subsequently broadened our activity to defend individuals and organizations who are being attacked because of their criticism of Israel and their defense of Palestinian human rights. We are writing to support the process through which the United Church is reconsidering its policy on Palestine/Israel.
The report of the United Church’s Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy (WGIP) is an important step forward and provides the basis for a thorough discussion of the issues at the 41st General Council meeting.
We are concerned, however, that the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has responded by attacking the document, using threatening, inflammatory language: “If the United Church adopts this highly biased report without amendment, it will place the Church outside the genuine peace movement and in the same camp as the most virulent anti-israel activists.” Those who demand that others overlook injustice are not providing help or friendship. They are seeking to intimidate and to silence.
Many individuals and organizations have endured attacks of this nature, sometimes at great personal cost. CIJA’s goal is clearly to suppress free discussion and inquiry on the subject of Palestine/Israel. We encourage the United Church to vigorously defend its right to a full debate on this subject, free from the accusations and slurs used by CIJA, in defense of not only its own rights, but also those of individuals and organizations which do not have the Church’s resources, so that they may continue to engage in the struggle for social justice for the Palestinians.
Brian Campbell and Anne Roberts
Co-Chairs, Seriously Free Speech Committee