The legal dispute has been prompted by a controversial resolution passed at the Methodist Conference which called for a boycott of some Israeli goods. If the legal action is successful, it would likely bring to an end all similar campaigns that boycott Israeli goods and services. David Hallam, who preaches in Methodist churches around Birmingham, has accused his own church of wasting funds to pursue a vendetta against Israel. There are no Methodist churches in either Israel or the Occupied Territories. Mr Hallam, 62, a former labour MEP, said: “What I object to is money which I am putting on the collection plate on a Sunday being used to fund a political campaign against the Jewish state. This is both discriminatory and a misuse of a charity’s funds. “The Methodist Church seems to think it has a God given right to tell Jews how to run their affairs. It is very disturbing we are getting involved in a territory where we don’t have any members or churches.” Mr Hallam has recruited Paul Diamond, a barrister with expertise in human rights law and religious law, to bring the case. Mr Diamond will argue that the Methodist resolution passed in the summer is in breach of European human rights law and a wide-ranging European Union directive on racism. By singling out Israel, rather than other countries with often worse human rights records, Mr Diamond will claim the church is being deliberately prejudiced against the Jewish state. Last week the Methodist Church defended the resolution, pointing out the boycott was only of goods made in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The church said the stance was supported by Palestinian Christians and denied any suggestion the move was racist or discriminatory against Jews. A Methodist spokesman said: “The report was debated and received by the annual Methodist Conference, which is the governing body of the Church and is democratic and representative of the whole Church, and which voted for each resolution. The spokesman added;: “As Christians, we take from the parable of the Good Samaritan and the life of Jesus that we cannot turn our back on injustice just because it is not geographically near to us.” The resolution so angered the Board of Deputies, the organisation that represents British Jewry, that it broke off all contact with the leadership of the Methodist Church. The Board issued a statement at the time suggesting that the Methodist church should “hang its head in shame”.
The Times Are A Changing Again… Light at the end of the tunnel.