Readers write: January 16, 2017 issue

January 11, 2017 | Viewpoints | Volume 21 Issue 2

Being pro-Palestinian is not being anti-Jewish

Re: “A better way than BDS?” letter, Nov. 21, 2016, page 10.

One distinction that is often forgotten in discussions about Israel-Palestine is the difference between Jew and Israeli. The current State of Israel was brought about by violence after the Second World War. People who are citizens of that state can be called Israelis. They are not all Jewish, nor do they all support the decisions of the government of Israel. Both Palestinians and Israelis have legitimate rights that have been violated since the founding of the State of Israel.

To be pro-Palestinian is not to be anti-Jewish. To boycott products from Israel or eliminate personal or corporate investment in Israel is not anti-Jewish. To boycott and divest is to try to put economic pressure on the Israeli government to change its actions in Israel.

I do not agree with Russel Snyder-Penner’s statement that boycott and divestment involve Christians shunning Jews. It is non-Israelis shunning the actions of the Israeli government.

It is the same kind of action as the boycott and divestment against the actions of the South African government. Just as there were people of colour working to end apartheid, there are Jews working to end the illegal settlements that exist on Palestinian land. There are Jews working to tear down the wall built by the Israeli government that divides Israelis from Palestinians.

Let us work with people of all faiths to end injustice in Israel-Palestine. Let us work to bring God’s peace to a region that has only had war for decades.

Robert Boardman, Scarborough, Ont.


Executive minister sets the record straight

Re: “B.C. pastors seeking to break away should be ‘denounced’ ” letter, Dec. 12, 2016, page 11, and “No more closed doors” editorial, Nov. 7, 2016, page 2.

I just want to correct a few inaccuracies, since I was involved in giving leadership to these meetings.  

Our pastors’ gathering on Sept. 20, 2016, was a listening meeting, and everyone honoured that expectation. There was no discussion or any attempt at persuasion. Strong positions were articulated by some, and these may have been viewed by some as attempts at persuasion, but each pastor simply stated his or her response to Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7. The pastors gathering was Part 1 of a planned two-stage process. Part 2 was the Oct. 22, 2016, gathering of people from our congregations for discussion and sharing of ideas for the way forward. This gathering was open to anyone who cared to attend.  

The development of a letter of response from a group of pastors calling for Mennonite Church B.C. to leave MC Canada (based on BFC7) came shortly after the pastors gathering.  This letter received the signatures of 11 pastors. I distributed it to all the MC B.C. congregations for their awareness as part of an invitation to the Oct. 22 gathering.

The place in the Oct. 22 congregational gathering when this proposal was presented was after the roundtable conversations and sharing of how individuals and congregations are responding to BFC7, not at the beginning. We received more than 20 ideas for the way forward at that gathering. We consolidated these into six options, and sent them out for the people in our congregations to rank as a way to hear the voice of the MC B.C. people. We are receiving the return of the surveys at this time.

Garry Janzen, Abbotsford, B.C.
Gary Janzen is the executive minister of MC B.C.


Church employees ‘live in a bubble of excessive lifestyles’

Re: “No more closed doors” editorial, Nov. 7, 2016, page 2.

I like the way Dick Benner put “pastor” in quotation marks. I have long had an issue with the word. I see it as creeping or encroaching Protestantism into the Mennonite church; I prefer “minister.”

It is my belief that the Mennonite church has become increasingly over-bureaucratized, and church employees live in a bubble of excessive lifestyles and excessive salaries.

My mother said that the “old people” claimed that when ministers were paid a salary, they would tell people what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear. I have come to the conclusion that they were correct.

It is totally my opinion that the affluence we have is based on greed and the use of military force to keep the imbalance of the distribution of wealth in favour of the rich: us. While I doubt that my grandfather had much understanding of economics and politics, he knew that, based on his understanding of the teachings of Jesus, it was wrong for him to participate in war.

Larry Bender, Tavistock, Ont.

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