Church Groups Manipulate Christmas Spirit to Delegitimize Israel and Promote BDS

JERUSALEM – The Christmas season is being exploited by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to advance anti-peace agendas and to delegitimize Israel, says NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institution.  By manipulating traditional Christmas songs, images, and messages, NGOs such as Sabeel, War on Want (UK), Amos Trust, and Adalah-NY continue to demonize Israel with crude, antisemitic rhetoric.

“These NGOs have hijacked Christmas to promote their extremely divisive boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) and demonization campaigns,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor.  “Manipulating religious symbols and images in this manner is deeply offensive, and clearly does not foster an environment of coexistence among Israelis and Palestinians.  These NGOs are pursuing hate-filled agendas.”

Friends of Sabeel – Detroit is selling Christmas cards as a “fundraiser in support of Friend of Sabeel - North America,” one of which implies the destruction of the Jewish state by depicting a map of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza as one territory filled in with the phrase “The Empire will not last!”

Adalah-NY held its annual “Anti-Apartheid Holiday Caroling” on December 17, 2011 in front of a New York jewelry store owned by Israeli businessman Lev Leviev. The protest is part of Adalah-NY’s campaign targeting Leviev because he is an Israeli, and they invited activists to sing awkward and offensive versions of traditional holiday songs. This year, the event was held in conjunction with Code Pink, whose Stolen Beauty campaign targets the Israeli company Ahava. In their lyrics, the NGOs use the “Ethnic cleansing and apartheid” blood libels, and chanted “Selling beauty creams, / Blood mixed in with mud”; other inflammatory lyrics include “That beauty cream you bought her / Makes her soul disappear.”

UK-based Amos Trust is advertising its annual Bethlehem Pack, “a resource to help churches talk about the current situation in Bethlehem at carol services and Christmas events.” Exploiting charged theological images to attack Israel, this text proclaims: “If Jesus was born today in Bethlehem, the Wise Men would spend several hours queuing to enter the town” and “If Jesus was born today in Bethlehem, much of the shepherds’ fields would have been confiscated for illegal Israeli settlements.”

“Linking the suffering of Palestinians to Christian themes revives traditional and deep seated antisemitic theology,” Steinberg adds.  “By employing these tactics, and grossly misrepresenting a complicated conflict, these NGOs are making peace more difficult to achieve.”

Read NGO Monitor’s full report on NGO Hijacking of Christmas