TORY FRIENDS OF ISRAELAn interesting letter in today's Times:
Sir, We write to express our support for the position taken by the Chief Rabbi on the recent motion passed by the General Synod of the Church of England regarding divestment from products which are used by the Israeli Government in the territories (report, Feb 17; letters, Feb 20, 21 and 23).For those that weren't aware, David Amess is the Tory MP who famously stood up in the House of Commons and asked a question about "Cake - a made-up drug from Czechoslovakia" in one of Chris Morris's funniest Brasseye episodes.
We know from the lobbying and educational activities of the non-partisan, cross-party “Anglicans for Israel” group that this decision has caused enormous pain to ordinary Anglican worshippers and even more hurt to the Jewish community.
No matter how well meaning, politically motivated boycotts polarise opinion, particularly where there are a variety of causes to which attention could be similarly drawn. The recent AUT educational boycott, though quickly rescinded, had an immediate and destructive impact.
Synod might on reflection want to consider the plight of Palestinian Christians whose right to worship is explicit in Israel, yet becoming increasingly difficult within Palestinian territories, and who view with alarm the success of Hamas. They might be puzzled as to why there has been no similar overt manifestation of concern by the Church against such an explicitly anti-Jewish and anti-Christian movement. (Is it because they're the "wrong" sort of religious minority? Ed.)
We believe a better Christian witness is to encourage positive engagement with all parties in a difficult and protracted conflict which cries out for tolerance, justice, forgiveness and understanding. Another partial position just adds a further hurdle to peace rather than a bridge.
ALISTAIR BURT, MP
DAVID AMESS, MP
DAVID BURROWES, MP
STEPHEN CRABB, MP
DAVID DAVIES, MP
GREG HANDS, MP
GARY STREETER, MP
ED VAIZEY, MP
ANN WIDDECOMBE, MP
At least Amess and the eight other Tory signatories got something right for once.
(Aside: the same Brasseye episode also featured a spoof report on a school which kept a junkie going through cold turkey in a padded cell so that schoolchildren could see what it was like. In Channel 4's quest to continue to push the boundaries of taste, ten years on they can do just that by turning their TV's on and watching "Going Cold Turkey".)