There’s a fight between the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Jewish Congress, the National Post‘s Kathryn Blaze Carlson tells us, the CJC opposing the UCC’s relationship with a non-Zionist Jewish group. All I can say is that, in the battle between left-wing occasionally blind idealism and diasporic ethnic nationalism, I lean strongly towards the idealists.
The Canadian Jewish Congress and the United Church — Canada’s largest Protestant denomination‚ have reached a “breaking point,” and the Feb. 1 meeting will determine whether the organizations can “get back on track,” said Bernie Farber, CEO of the Jewish organization. “What is at stake is our ongoing relationship,” he said. “I am confident that we will be able to resolve the main issue, but there is the possibility that this could lead to a schism.”
The main item on the agenda is the United Church’s dealings with Independent Jewish Voices, a controversial organization that challenges mainstream Jewish groups and supports a boycott of Israel. Mr. Farber wants the United Church’s national office to repudiate what he calls a “fringe group” that spews “vile, anti-Zionist” rhetoric.
“The Canadian Jewish Congress has raised this issue with us, and we have had some back and forth,” said Nora Sanders, the Church’s general secretary. “But we need to sit down and talk directly.” Ms. Sanders said the United Church is “not partners with the IJV” and does not “encourage groups to act in partnership with the IJV.” But Mr. Farber said the Church’s position has not been strong enough, and said Church leadership has done little to convince the CJC that it — not the IJV — is the United Church’s partner representing mainstream Jewish views.
He said there were a number of incidents — all tied to the IJV — that compelled the congress to send a “strongly worded letter” to the United Church last November demanding a meeting with Ms. Sanders. “What got us to this point was an unfortunate series of decisions by some within the United Church to make common cause with a very small anti-Zionist rump group,” Mr. Farber said, adding the Church’s January response to the November letter did little to quell flared emotions. “To see certain folk in the United Church of Canada embracing this group is questionable. Getting together would allow us to sit down and find out who their faith partner really is.”
After decades of relatively amicable dealings, tensions between the two groups boiled last summer at the United Church’s general council meeting in Kelowna, B.C. There, the United Church came under fire for considering contentious resolutions to boycott Israeli academics and cultural institutions — resolutions that were strongly supported by the IJV, but which were ultimately not adopted by the United Church.