Israel’s ambassador to the UK has condemned a report by the Church of Scotland that questioned the divine right of Jews to the land of Israel.
Daniel Taub said the document "negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful."
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The 10-page discussion paper says that "promises about the Land of Israel were never intended to be taken literally" and that the Bible should not be used to settle conflicts over land. It was due to be debated at the church’s General Assembly later this month.
“This report not only plays into extremist political positions, but negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful," Taub said.
“If a document of this nature is adopted by the Church, it would mark a significant step backwards for the forces of tolerance and peace in our region."
According to The Times, the Anti-Defamation League, condemned the Church paper as "stunningly offensive" and said that it "negated the beliefs of Judaism."
The report states that “there has been a widespread assumption by many Christians as well as many Jewish people that the Bible supports an essentially Jewish state of Israel. This raises an increasing number of difficulties and current Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians have sharpened this questioning.”
Most contentiously, it cites a Jewish- American critic of Israel, Mark Braverman, arguing that Christians must not "revert to the particular exclusivism of the Jewish faith because we feel guilty about the Holocaust”. The authors continue: "They (the Jewish people) must be challenged, too, to stop thinking of themselves as victims and special, and recognize that the present immoral, unjust treatment of Palestinian people is unsustainable."
In response to the criticism, the church stressed that it does not deny Israel’s right to exist, but conceded Thursday the report has led to misunderstanding of its position and that some parts needed to be rewritten.
A Church spokesman said that criticism of Israeli policies should not be equated with anti-Semitic rhetoric, an "unfounded assumption" that crippled debate. He said: "The Church has never and is not now denying Israel's right to exist; on the contrary, it is questioning the policies that continue to keep peace a dream in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This report is against the injustices leveled against the Palestinian people and how land is shared. It is also a reflection of the use or misuse of scripture to claim divine right to land by any group."
AP contributed to the report
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