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Canadian Protestant proposal seen as anti-Semitic

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TORONTO (JTA) — Jewish groups in Canada are calling a proposed academic boycott of Israel by the country’s largest Protestant denomination "an "obscene gesture."

The United Church of Canada is expected to offer a resolution at its general council in August calling for a "comprehensive boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions at the national and international levels." The statement also will refer to Israel’s assault on Gaza last December as a "visible reminder of the ongoing Israeli regime of exclusion, violence and dehumanization directed against Palestinians."

Israel, the proposal states, was "built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners."

The resolutions on the Middle East, among dozens of proposals on many issues, will be debated and voted on at the council.

"This puts the United Church in some very questionable company," Eric Vernon of the Canadian Jewish Congress told the National Post newspaper. "The use of boycott, divestment and sanction has been a weapon used by Israel’s enemies to destroy it. Those are elements of anti-Semitic behavior in the contemporary world." 

Frank Dimant, executive vice president of B’nai Brith Canada, said he was "disgusted" with the proposal.

"This is an obscene gesture by a religious group, and my hope is that Christians will turn their backs on this resolution," he said.

 In 2006, a United Church proposal to cut financial investments in Israeli companies never made it to a vote. Three years before that, the church issued a groundbreaking document, "Bearing Faithful Witness," which sought rapprochement with Jews.

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