The United Church has come out with progressive social positions like that on water use and their stand against bottled water.
So it is a bit of a mystery why they are reviewing a divestment policy against Israel at this week’s national general council in Kelowna, an issue they have reviewed and dismissed in the past.
Based on the United Church stance on water and its value to human life, surely they should be giving Israel an award instead for leading the world in water management technologies.
Israel is world-renown for developing the drip irrigation system that allows bountiful crops to grow in desert areas on a steady drip of carefully placed water. From ARKAL’s Spin Kleen filter systems that maintain the flow and flush the pipes of acres of food grown round the world, to Amiad’s water filtration units, to IDE Technologies massive ambient desalinators at work for thirsty populations around the world, to their effluent concentrators that would help solve Alberta’s tar sands toxic ponds, Israel has brought a whole new modern-day meaning to the term Holy Water.
But now with the United Church Council reconsidering a policy of divestment against Israel, one has to wonder at whether it understands the forces at play in the Middle East or if it is going by appearances.
As a church dedicated to social justice, Christian love and the betterment of humankind, undoubtedly the United Church wants to address the suffering of the people in Gaza. Israel is accused of being the cause of Gazan poverty, hunger and suffering.
Do the United Church council members remember that in 2005, American Jewish donors raised some $15 million to maintain the 3,000 greenhouses the evacuated Israeli-Gaza farmers left behind — so that Gazans would have an immediate place to work and a market garden economy suitable for export to the EU?
Do the church members remember that the Gazans razed those green houses within hours of Israel pulling out of Gaza?
Likewise, do the council members remember Gaza’s broken promise to Israel — “pull out of Gaza and there will be no more Kassam rockets”? Israel pulled out — uprooting Israeli families who had farmed in the Gaza Strip for 30 years, many who had employed hundreds of Palestinians over the years.
In return for complying, Israel’s Gilad Shalit was kidnapped from Israeli soil and is still hostage, and Israel got 4,000-plus mortars and missiles rained down upon them . . . and still counting.
It’s a tragedy that Gaza has collapsed into chaos and Hamas-led Islamic fundamentalism. But the people who have to answer for it are the Gazans, not the Israelis. As well, the regional terrorist regimes who sponsor terrorist instigators do not want any kind of Palestinian democracy in their midst.
The Palestinians used to make about $750 to $1,000 a month working in Israel before the two intifadas. Compare this to what the average Syrian makes — $94 a month. Or the Egyptian — $127 a month. Or Jordan — $146 a month.
Democracy and peaceful relations with Israel would make the Palestinian territories the first Arab example of how democracy unleashes the power of creativity and productivity. Working in concert with Israel’s annual GDP of $161 billion, the Palestinians could easily outpace any of the regional economies in months. It could inspire other Arab ‘peasants’ to topple their oppressive regimes.
That’s why Iran, Syria, formerly Iraq and even Egypt support and sponsor terrorist bases to attack Israel — for the sole purpose of generating chaos and destroying the hope of peace. It’s the only way the dictators and autocrats will save their own necks.
And that’s why the United Church should stand firmly behind Israel.
To heck with divestment. Demand accountability from Gazans. Vociferously denounce the terrorist-supporting regimes — the true oppressors — that foment this tragic chaos.
Who treats water and life as holy and sacred? Israel. By contrast, who destroyed 3,000 greenhouses — a gift — that could have fed their own people and created a free economy? Gazans.
To the United Church general council I say: Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment. John 7:24
Michelle Stirling-Anosh is a Ponoka-based freelance columnist.