The United Church is a leader in this country and around the world in supporting interfaith dialogue and conversation. We believe strongly in fostering relationships and opening doors to talking about difficult issues, particularly among faith communities. Because of this commitment, we often provide resources, both financial and human, to support interfaith programs and initiatives across the country.
One of the issues in which the United Church has long been engaged is bringing peace to the Middle East. To that end, we have sought to foster relationships with credible groups on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that share our goals.
We condemn extremism in all forms, and have always sought to steer a middle path on this difficult issue that acknowledges the wrongs committed by all sides, while remaining faithful to our conviction that justice requires a peaceful end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Just last month, the 40th General Council repudiated provocative, unbalanced, and hurtful language that accompanied some proposals it received calling for action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Recent stories in the media have suggested that The United Church of Canada helped fund the formation of a new “anti-Jewish” group. In March 2008, the General Council Office did provide a $900 grant to assist in a meeting convened by an organization called the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians. Our intention was to support the participation of people engaged in dialogue between Jewish, Muslim, and Palestinian networks around options for peace in the Middle East. This is consistent with our long-standing tradition of support for interfaith initiatives for justice and peace.
We recognize there are extreme positions on all sides of this issue, and acknowledge that greater scrutiny may have been necessary in this case. We are examining our approval mechanisms to ensure that all grants are consistent with our values and goals.
The commitment of the United Church to support interfaith conversations and dialogue, and seek an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories, often invites criticism. But we remain committed to the importance of these activities in contributing to a just world.
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