Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday 6 April 2011

British Quakers Get Infected With Boycott Derangement Syndrome

The British Quakers (Society of Friends), who muster 23,000 strong and have 475 meeting houses, are the latest religious group in the UK to join the ranks of the BDS Movement, which aims to force Israel to abandon the "Occupation" - in other words to be cajoled and forced into abandoning its legitimate self-interest and security concerns, to roll over and expose its soft underbelly to mortal foes.

Not only would the "Occupation" not have occurred had it not been for Arab rejectionism and aggression, the Arabs of Palestine would have had their own state had it not been for Arab bloody-mindedness and intransigence.

Moreover, there are good grounds for thinking that the Arab-Israeli Conflict is not about territory or settlements but about the Arabs' longterm unwillingness to accept a non-Muslim state  in the Middle East.  And it's by no means certain that the "settlements" are illegal.  See, for example,

"People matter more than territory," the Quakers have pontificated. "We cannot do nothing."  (Hmmm. They seem to manage to do nothing where countries other than Israel are concerned, don't they? Now, isn't that strange!)

Here's precisely what the Quakers have to say on the matter:
"Boycott, divestment and sanctions (Israel/Palestine) ....
We have heard of the responses of Jewish Peace Groups within Israel. We hear these Israeli citizens risk being criminalised by their government if they actively support the Palestinian call for cultural and economic boycott. We were informed that most Jewish Israeli Peace Groups support the boycott of settlement goods, and only some support a boycott of Israel.
A just peace for Palestine means security for Israel too, and nonviolent protests by both Israelis and Palestinians for the end of the occupation are heartening to observe.
For nine years Quakers have been witnessing individually and through the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) to the human rights abuses of the military occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Today we have considered whether we should add nonviolent action to our witnessing – not as punishment or revenge, but as an external pressure to achieve change.
We understand the history and the trauma of the past, but it is Israelis who are the stronger and they need to make the changes.
John Woolman’s words remind us of the powerful sense we have of being brothers and sisters with people of other faiths. There are three main faiths in this part of the world, and we want to proceed in ways which allow dialogue to continue. We consider we should now act publicly, and, well-informed, be able to explain our action to others – because people matter more than territory, and because we approach others with a desire for peace.
Difficult decisions taken by us today can be reversed. The request for boycott comes from those who will suffer most, but a decision for boycott will give hope to Palestinians and support to those in Israel who are working for peace.
In the face of the armed oppression of poor people and the increasing encroachment of the illegal settlements in the West Bank, we cannot do nothing.
Our hearts are full of compassion for Israelis and Palestinians, all of whom are suffering from the effects of the occupation.
We are clear that it would be wrong to support the illegal settlements by purchasing their goods. We therefore ask Friends (Quakers) throughout Britain Yearly Meeting to boycott settlement goods, until such time as the occupation is ended.
We are not at this time proposing to boycott goods from Israel itself, being unwilling to jeopardise continuing dialogue with Israelis and British Jews.
 We pray fervently for both Israelis and Palestinians, keeping them together in our hearts. We hope they will find an end to their fears and the beginning of their mutual co-existence based on a just peace. And so we look forward to the end of the occupation and the end of the international boycott. We envisage our future relationship with both peoples as one of loving and generous co-operation.
Although we unite in this decision we recognise that Friends have different views, and we must treat one another tenderly."
There have been, historically, similarities between British Quakers and British Jews.  For generations they were the only non-Anglican groups permitted to conduct their own marriage services.  Small endogamous minorities, standing aloof from the British polity at a time when only Anglicans could participate in public life, they, like another group of outsiders, the Huguenots, constituted elites in business, perhaps, as sociologists have suggested, in compensation for their marginalised status but also because of their own intra-communal networks. Fry's and the other chocolate makers Cadbury and Rowntree were Quaker firms, as was Barclay's Bank. 

I spent a year at a Quaker college in the United States.  It was one of the most enriching experiences of my life, and I look back on that year fondly.  I have considerable respect for the Society of Friends, which from its origins strove for the equality of women with men, was in the forefront of efforts for penal reform and for the abolition of slavery, and during the Nazi era did much to rescue Jews, and especially "non-Aryan Christians," from the Reich.  The Quakers are pacifists and idealists.

However, that very pacifism and idealism has drawn them into an all too easily duped naivity and into stances which are incompatible with the hard facts of this world as it is.

Moreover, like most if not all small Protestant sects today they would appear have been hijacked to some extent by committed political leftists.  Leftism is not always the expression of noble idealism or what is correct and righteous and just, no matter how much some people would like to believe it is.

And some of the lefty infiltrators of the Quakers and other religious groups are anything but naive.

Methodist preacher David Hallam, who has fought strenuously against his own church's very mean-minded Boycott of Israel and gets a lot of flak for it from certain other Methodist preachers, observes on his blog (

'A lifetime ago they enjoyed much love and respect among the Jewish community stemming from Quaker involvement in the Kindertransport (incidentally there's a recently unveiled memorial to this achievement at Liverpool Street station). In many parts of the country local synagogues would worship at the Friend's meeting houses where they had no building of their own. Sadly generations and attitudes have changed.
Over the years I've met some wonderful Quakers but must admit that when I've attended Quaker worship services the emphasis has been on a vague spirituality, sometimes verging on the new age, rather than the living Christ.
About 30 years ago I was asked to speak at a "Christian-Marxist" dialogue held at a Quaker Meeting House in Sussex. They had been meeting for about ten to 12 years. It consisted of about 20 people, all in their sixties, half of whom were Quakers and the rest Communists of the "tankie" variety.
Naturally I based my contribution on Holy Scripture (having read my Conrad Noel) - Leviticus 25, Deuteronomy 15, Luke 4 and Acts 2.
Wow! Half the congregation were furious and half were delighted. The Communists explained. "We've been coming here for over ten years and no one has ever referred to the Bible, no one has explained why a Christian can be socialist."
The Quakers were furious. "For over ten years we have been trying to persuade the Communists that not all Christians stuff the Bible down people's throats."'
The Quakers might learn a thing or two from the drubbing-cum-poli sci/history lesson prominent Israeli blogger Yisrael Medad has given them:

Instead of poisoning their minds courtesy of Israel-demonisers they should read my penultimate post, to learn from Professor MacEoin just how Palestinians really fare at the hands of the Israelis.  And I find the Quakers' assumption that the Netanyahu government and the bulk of the Israeli people do not want peace insulting and ignorant.  Have they honestly never read any of Netanyahu's speeches?

For more on the Quakers' descent down the BDS path see


  1. This is an excellent post. I am a British Quaker and aghast at this sanctimonious statement of support for BDS. It is simplistic, wrong-headed, and based on very flawed assumptions, and I am deeply embarrassed!

  2. Many thanks for taking the trouble to post, Sally. Much appreciated.

  3. Naive in the extreme. I no longer can bear to attend Quaker meetings. They appear to have truly lost their way and appear obsessed with Israel to the point of bigotry. Why?

  4. This disease has spread to the American Quaker community, with the American Friends Service Committee officially promoting BDS and offering no acknowledgment of Israel's positive role in the Middle East. I am sickened at the thought, but I will probably have to "leave the fold" soon.


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