Easier Yoke

Theological reflections

A Peace Treaty between Friends and Family: the United Church of Canada and B’nai Brith

2012uccrestcolour_largebnai brithdeal with the devil

The United Church of Canada made a peace treaty with B’nai Brith 45 years ago which remains in place.

Statement of Officials of the United Church and B’nai Brith, May 4, 1973

“As representatives of the United Church Family and the B’nai Brith of Canada, we have anguished over recent events that have driven deep wedges of misunderstanding and acrimony between us.

As we in the Church recall the record of the centuries, we acknowledge the Church’s sorry role in fostering hostility between between the Christian and Jewish communities. We seek to ameliorate our relationship and pursue the future unfettered by intolerance, prejudice or rancour, with common goals directed towards the betterment of the society in which we live.

We of the United Church deeply regret and disavow the insensitivity and inaccuracies contained in an article by John Nicholls Booth in the United Church Observer (March 1972). We of the B’nai Brith deeply regret and repudiate invective as a form of expression and communication.

We recognize and appreciate the interests of Jews everywhere and of the United Church for the events in the Middle East and in the survival of Israel.

Though we may differ in opinion from time to time on some issues, we believe that cooperation and friendship can be achieved, and that criticism of each other can be constructive when offered in the spirit of mutual respect and integrity.

As growing problems and challenges face us here in Canada, and throughout the world, members of the United Church and of B’nai Brith need to meet one another, share insights, discover differences and cooperate, where possible, in social action for the common good, but communication cannot take place in the atmosphere of ambiguity or doubt regarding the respect of one party for the other.

We jointly look forward to dialogue as the appropriate means whereby points of view can be expressed, reconciliation achieved and understanding established. We affirm that our combine energies shall be increasingly channeled in this direction.”

Rt. Rev. N. Bruce McLeod, Moderator, United Church of Canada

Rev. Dr. George M. Morrison, Secretary, General Council, United Church of Canada

Sydney Maislin, President, Canadian B;nai Brith

Herbert S. Levy, Executive, Vice President, Canadian B’nai Brith.


Copy extracted from Rabbi Rueben Slonim, “Family Quarrel: The United Church and the Jews” 1977

Agreement is still in place today, with no copy available through the United Church of Canada archives or any public source.

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Background:

After a series of meetings over about 6 months “without Rev. Dr. A. C. Forrest, Editor, United Church Observer, in order to come to a gentlemens’ agreement with the United Church of Canada and B’nai Brith so that the law suit launched against B;nai Brith by the the Observer/Forrest and the counter law suits launched by B’nai Brith against Forrest, the Observer and the United Church of Canada would be dropped.

A subsequent agreement related to implementation was put in place between the Canadian Jewish Congress and the United Church of Canada. This agreement is NOT available in the United Church of Canada archives either.

The B’nai Brith agreement is still in place but is the United Church still using the CJC agreement as guiding document with CIJA?  I suspect given what I have heard it is considered still at least in principle in place.

Wonder why:

-the United Church of Canada’s (UCC) policy on Palestine approved at General Council over the last 45 years don’t move forward to implementation?

-the strong support of right of return has morphed into a few actions related to Sodastream or Ketter Plastic boycott and labeling of goods?

The challenge of making a deal with devil perhaps?

General Council 27 in 1977 indicated the major development of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 (1975) that “zionism is racism.”There is nothing reversing this through subsequent General Councils that I have found in the Archives.

Zionism is Racism

In May 2016, I filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) on the basis of the UCC’s discrimination against my anti-zionism worldview.

The HRTO accepted this complain under the grounds of worldview/faith and also association. Through several attempts by the UCC to dismiss & move the case to a summary hearing, the HRTO supported my application.  The UCC also opposed two respected groups, Canadian Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU) expert intervention in my case.  So far the HRTO has not accepted the UCC request to dismiss the expert opinion.

In April 2018, the HRTO during a pre-hearing approved the case moving to a hearing to provide evidence on my anti-zionist worldview/creed.

Despite attempts by the United Church to shut down the process over the last two and half  years the case continues to move forward on the grounds that anti-zionism is a worldview.  The UCC feels that zionism is a political issue, not a theological or worldview.  For me human rights and international law are NOT political they are the core of my and I suspect many people’s world view.

The United Nations got it right in 1975, “Zionism is Racism.”  The UCC got it right in 1977, although one would not know that “anti-zionism” is to be celebrated not to be shut down!

See the April 2018 HRTO ruling  HERE

Earlier rulings keeping the case alive can be found HERE (2017) and HERE (2016).

*Update:  a subsequent ruling on January 15, 2019 denied Jonathan Kuttab, the founder of Al-Haq, the first human rights organization in the Middle East, representing me.  This request to deny Dr. Kuttab representing my case was made by the United Church of Canada.  The HRTO ruling can be found HERE.  This is under appeal currently.  As a result the HRTO hearing provided in April 2018 decision has not yet been scheduled.

Stay tuned for more info from the UCC Archives & from the HRTO.

If you have not read Rev. Dr. A.C. Forrest’s “Unholy Land” an electronic version of the 1972 book is available HERE.  Not surprisingly the United Church of Canada did not respond to our request to post it on their own website.

Check out the picture of the friends signing HERE

Picture Credit:Darrell, Dick 1973,

Signers (from left) are Rev. George M. Morrison; United Church; Sydney Maislin; B’nai Brith; Rt. Rev. N. Bruce McLeod; United Church; and Herbert S. Levy; B’nai Brith. Witnessing the signatures yesterday are Louis Ronson (left) and Morley S. Wolfe.

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