“This article is not correct,” said WCC interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca. “The WCC has never called for an economic boycott of the State of Israel”, he notes, “but works with churches and other organizations for a just peace in Palestine and Israel through all possible non-violent, political and diplomatic means.”
Rev. Frank Chikane, who is quoted in the story, is a highly respected church leader in South Africa who played a significant role in the struggle against the apartheid system in that country. He currently serves as moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), which fulfils an advisory role for WCC leadership. During the meeting in which he was quoted in the article, was speaking in his own personal capacity, not as a spokesperson for the WCC.
“I was invited as a South African to respond personally to the launch of a film celebrating the life and ministry of Patriarch Michel Sabbah, and not on behalf of the WCC or the CCIA”, confirmed Rev. Chikane. “The views I expressed at the event are my views and perspectives based on my experience in South Africa. I reject the assertions that I declared ‘war against Israel and its supporters’ or leveled a ‘hostile ... assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish state’.”
Rev. Chikane’s comments at the event on 6 February were not a statement of WCC policy. It is the governing bodies of the WCC – the Assembly, the Central Committee and the Executive Committee – that establish policy for the WCC, and the WCC general secretary is the spokesperson between governing body meetings.
Brief summary of WCC policy on Israel and Palestine
Since its founding in 1948, the WCC has acknowledged the State of Israel and the legitimate security needs of its people, consistently called for an end to violence, repudiated all forms of antisemitism, expressed opposition to the illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and appealed for a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict.
The WCC does not promote boycotts based on nationality in this or any other context. Nor does it espouse economic measures against Israel. It does, however, have a longstanding policy position in favour of boycotting goods and services from settlements (considered internationally as illegal) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 350 member churches which represents more than half a billion Christians around the world. The WCC calls its member churches to seek unity, a common public witness and service to others in a world where hope and solidarity are the seeds for justice and peace. The WCC works with people of all faiths seeking reconciliation with the goal of justice, peace and a more equitable world.
Read a summary of the WCC’s policy position on Israel and Palestine