The United Church of Canada and the State of Israel
During the Holocaust, the United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in that country, did not speak in one voice: there were harsh antisemitic and pro-Nazi expressions on the one hand, and protests against anti-Jewish persecution and support for the admission of Jewish refugees into Canada on the other. While individuals stood out as exceptions, the institutional United Church (UC) was part of the general silence in Canada. Statements by official UC members and courts were rare and vague. United Church members who sympathized with the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust and felt guilty for their own silence supported the establishment of the State of Israel. They realized that the only guard against a repeat of mass destruction was a strong Israeli nation with secure borders. A strong opposition rose in the United Church against this uncritical support of Israel. Led by Ernest M. Howse, a former Moderator, and A.C. Forrest, editor of the United Church Observer, this group maintained that an attempt to meet one refugee problem has created another similar injustice. The result of the establishment of the State of Israel was the creation of injustice to Arab refugees. The arguments of this group prevailed, and from 1956 the United Church adopted a constant pro-Arab policy. The aim of this article is to show how the shadow of the Holocaust hovered over the debate regarding the attitude of the United Church towards the State of Israel.
KeywordsJewish People Church Leader General Council Protestant Church Refugee Problem
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