The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was founded in 2002 by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) and is considered to be the WCC’s “flagship project” on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
For more information on EAPPI, read NGO Monitor’s report “EAPPI: The World Council of Churches’ Training Camp for Anti-Israel Advocacy.”
- In 2017, WCC allocated $1.3 million to EAPPI. Of this, $803,000 was spent on Ecumenical Accompaniers from Austria, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the United States, and in partnership with United Nations bodies.
- EAPPI donors include Norway, Sweden, Canada, DanChurchAid (Denmark), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (United Kingdom), Finn Church Aid (Finland), and HEKS (Switzerland).
- EAPPI is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as part of the Norwegian Church Aid’s (NCA) “Faith Communities and Peace Building program in Israel-Palestine.”
- According NCA’s 2016 “affiliations” report, support to WCC “plus funding for EAPPI” in 2015 was NOK 2.6 million (~$333,350).
- In 2017, the Swedish Mission Council (via SIDA) was allocated “6 MSEK [6 million SEK, ~$754,000] for their Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).” From 2013-2016, Sweden (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) granted $2.8 million to EAPPI via the Swedish Council of Churches.
- EAPPI received CHF 230,000 (2017) and CHF 225,000 (2016) from HEKS.
- In 2017-2018, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) (via the Quaker Peace and Social Witness) granted £55,000 for EAPPI.
- In 2015, FinnChurchAid granted WCC €122,000 for EAPPI.
- In 2017-2019, EAPPI received $328,995 from DanChurchAid (Denmark).
- In 2015, Canada (via UNICEF) provided EAPPI with $790,514 for a project implemented with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).
- In 2015, EAPPI, alongside the East Jerusalem YMCA, Ma’an Development Center, and Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR), received $287,323 from Norway (via Save the Children) for “Protecting access to Education in oPt through violations immediate response.”
- Despite marketing itself as human rights and protection program, EAPPI places significant emphasis on political advocacy before, during, and after the trip. When the volunteers return to their home countries and churches, they engage in anti-Israel advocacy such as BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns and comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany. (See examples below.)
- EAPPI is not a registered organization in Israel or abroad. The program brings international activists to the West Bank through the use of tourist visas.
- The stated mission is to “witness life under occupation, engage with local Palestinians and Israelis pursuing a just peace, to change the international community’s involvement in the conflict, urging them to act against injustice in the region.”
- EAPPI’s advocacy goal is to “make a change,” and specifically to “work for concrete change, both here and on the ground and back in our home countries.” The organization furthers that, “We share our eyewitness testimonies with faith leaders, decision makers, media, civil society, and business officials, so that they change public policy toward ending the Israeli occupation and achieving peace in Israel and Palestine.” (emphasis added)
- Since 2002, EAPPI has brought 1,800 “Ecumenical Accompanier” volunteers/activists to Israel for periods of three-months at a time. These activists receive training prior to their arrival, which includes an overview of the program itself, methods for coping with the army and police, and different ways of surpassing Israeli airport security and customs officials in order to successfully enter the country.
- The WCC’s EAPPI program consists of a “continuous presence of 25-30 Ecumenical Accompaniers on the ground, for periods of three months in accompanying, offering protective presence, and witness… monitoring and reporting human rights abuses… standing with local peace and human rights groups…and advocacy.” Often, however, these activities instigate confrontations with Israeli settlers and the Israeli army.
- According to WCC’s International Coordinator for EAPPI Dr. Owe Boersma, the monitoring component includes “a lot of administrative work which is fed into UN systems” (emphasis added).
- The activists cooperate with political NGOs operating in the West Bank, including groups that support BDS campaigns against Israel and accuse Israel of “war crimes,” such as B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, Machsom Watch, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), Wi’am- the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, and the Alternative Tourism Group.
Demonization of Israel
- EAPPI rhetoric includes accusations of “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” “war crimes,” and “Bantustans”; supporting a Palestinian “right of return”; and promoting the Kairos Palestine document that calls for BDS against Israel, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and rationalizes, justifies, and trivializes terrorism, calling it “legal resistance.”
- EAPPI participates in activities commemorating the Palestinian “Nakba” (catastrophe), and during their 3-month tours the program is focused exclusively on the Palestinian narrative. They have limited contact with Israeli society and are shielded from any evidence of terrorism, as a blog post on July 14, 2015 states, “This ongoing struggle includes repeated violence and destruction from adjacent Israeli settlers that includes demolitions of homes and agricultural structures, poisoning of wells, cutting of olive trees, and physical violence against the residents including stoning and gunfire.”
- In response to criticism regarding its politicized advocacy, EAPPI claims to have adjusted their program to include “Israeli voices.” In reality, these “voices” are none other than radical political NGOs that reinforce the EAPPI narrative.
- EAPPI’s core publication, “Faith Under Occupation,” jointly published with WCC and the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre (2012), places sole blame on Israel for the difficulties faced by Christians in the Holy Land. It also seeks to “disprove” what it calls “unfounded Israeli and Christian Zionist propaganda that Palestinian Christians are depopulating due to Muslim fundamentalism in Palestinian society.” This document also contains a list of recommendations titled “50 Ways to Action for Peace and Justice,” including:
- “Practice using a clear and unambiguous vocabulary including language protesting apartheid and colonization.”
- “Strengthen network working on sanctions and suspension of US aid to Israel.”
- “Challenge Israel in local and international courts. (If you are a lawyer, donate your time and initiate cases).”
- “Join the campaigns for economic boycotts…join or initiate a campaign for cultural and academic boycott.”
- “Challenge the Zionist attempts to doctor Wikipedia.”
- “Engage in civil disobedience actions.”
- “Develop close working relationships with progressive parties and groups in your country.”
- “Reach out to Christian religious leaders and ask them to act based on the Kairos Palestine document.”
- A publication entitled “40 Years of Occupation” included an article advocating illegal and inflammatory activities – such as hacking government websites – to “end the occupation.” [This document, Issue 6 of EAPPI’s Chain Reaction magazine, was removed from EAPPI’s website at the beginning of July 2012.]
- EAPPI posted a statement in support of the skewed conclusions of the Goldstone report, expressing concern that “there could be a resolution that dilutes the intent and scope of the Goldstone report.” It claimed that “During the Gaza War, civilians on both sides suffered and yet atrocities were significantly higher among the Palestinian population…The people of Gaza have suffered enough, and they deserve a respite in the knowledge that the perpetrators of indiscriminate violence against them will be brought to book.”
- Regularly engages in international advocacy, lobbying the European Union to impose sanctions on Israel and encouraging churches worldwide to increase “advocacy that might affect their countries’ foreign policy in the Middle East.” In 2013, sought to block the Horizon 2020 program, a mutually beneficial agreement aimed at promoting EU-Israel partnerships in scientific research.
- EAPPI is a partner for the South Africa Team for “Israeli Apartheid Week,” which is “made up of 25 members stretched across South Africa.”
Examples of Activists’ Activities upon Return to Their Home Countries
- Upon returning to their home countries, many EAPPI activists use their experience in the West Bank to promote anti-Israel campaigns, including advocating for BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). According to EAPPI, advocacy includes both work in Israel “and back in our home countries…Advocacy is the tool for increasing international action for change. We share eyewitness testimonies with faith leaders, decision makers, media, civil society, and business officials, so that they change public policy…Increased international awareness increases pressure on the perpetrators of human rights abuses and helps protect civilians from these abuses” (emphasis added).
- In July 2012, Vivian Wineman, at the time the President of the UK Jewish Board of Deputies, referred to EAPPI as “inflammatory and partisan…its graduates return with simplistic and radical perspectives. Members of Jewish communities across the country have suffered harassment and abuse at EAPPI meetings.”
- According to the UK Jewish Board of Deputies, EAPPI “helped to create a climate of hostility towards Israel within the Church of England.” Furthermore, “The EAPPI narrative is based on the experience of volunteers who spend several months living alongside Palestinians in the Territories, but less than a day in Israel, and then return to address audiences who know little or nothing about the reality of everyday life for those on both sides of the conflict.”
- During a September 2017 presentation on EAPPI given by EA Gordon Timbers of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, an audience member asked, “Excuse me; I have to make a comment at this point. I don’t know how many people here have seen the model of the gas chambers … and some of these things really remind me [unintelligible] and I often wondered if any Jewish people who go in to see that model ever think of what is set up here” (emphasis added). In his answer, Timbers did not dispute the false claim answering instead “…Thank you for that, because there are similarities. All these identity papers and restriction of movement and checkpoints and all of these things, yes, that does make people think.”
- On June 18, 2017, an EA from England (who participated in EAPPI from April to July 2016) gave a presentation titled “EYE-WITNESS – Stories from the West Bank & Israel” at a church in Liverpool. The EA claimed that the “Israeli government is trying to force a relocation plan on all Bedouin communities and to make them move into townships… does that ring a bell somewhere back to South Africa? Strongly reminds me of what the British did to the Aboriginals some 200 years ago, and what about what happened to the native Indians in the USA at around the same time.” He added that “the Israeli government is set on not allowing any greater proportion of Palestinians that already exist, Arab-Israelis or Palestinians, so they can’t be more then, currently there are about 39 percent of the total population but Israel wants that figure to be 30 so that is one of the reasons for house demolitions… and often when Arab Israeli are punished, how are they punished? They can either be sent to the West Bank to get them out of Israel or worse sometimes they are sent to Gaza…“ (06:40, 09:00, 01:05:30).
- An EAPPI-Switzerland blog featured an interview with Manal Tamimi (June 10, 2017). Manal Tamimi frequently utilizes antisemitic and violent rhetoric and imagery on social media. For example, on August 1, 2015, Tamimi tweeted “I do hate Israel ,i (sic) wish a thrid Intefada (sic) coming soon and people rais (sic) up and kills all these zionist settlers everywhere.” In September 2015, on Yom Kippur (a fast day and the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar), Tamimi tweeted, “Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore day by drinking Palestinian bloods, yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end.” The UN removed Tamimi from a report listing her as a “human rights defender” after NGO Monitor filed a complaint documenting her antisemitic and violent tweets.
- In December 2016, WCC associate general secretary Prof. Dr. Isabel Phiri was denied entry to Israel on the basis of her role in EAPPI and BDS campaigns. According to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, “Granting an entry permit to activists such as Phiri would in effect reinforce the wrongful activities she and her peers are advancing.”
- In a May 2016 event held in London, an EAPPI activist made antisemitic comments, blaming the “Jewish lobby” and its influence in the US as an explanation for “why Evangelical Christians are not as sympathetic to the Palestinian plight.” She also supported a Palestinian “right of return,” called for a complete boycott of products and services from Israel, and referred to Israeli killing of Palestinian terrorists in Hebron “that supposedly had knives, but there are videos that show they have been planted.”
- A South African EAPPI activist who had participated in the program twice advocated for crippling the Israeli banking system, calling for “SWIFT [Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication] sanctions against Israel.” He stated that, “If we can develop the momentum of sanctions against Israeli banks then all the power of the Israeli military becomes irrelevant … that’s really the basis to support the BDS program… without access to SWIFT…. the whole economy would quickly collapse…Israel should comply with the nonproliferation treaty and abandon its nuclear weapons … release the political prisoners … end the occupation … Apply human rights for all within the area [Israel and Palestine] … The right of return of Palestinian refugees … the time has come to say that the victims of the Holocaust have now become the perpetrators” (emphasis added).
- In November 2014, nine EAs met with EU officials in Brussels where they “urged the European Union (EU) to take more effective actions against the illegal settlements, demolitions and forced displacement in the occupied territory controlled by the Israeli authorities.”
- In 2014, EAPPI and Finn Church Aid traveled to major university campuses in Finland, alleging that Israel victimizes and discriminates against the Palestinian population and “vindictively persecutes” Palestinian children.
- In 2013, members of EAPPI attended the 10th WCC General Assembly in Busan, South Korea, where EAPPI prepared a “façade designed as the separation wall” through which participants were forced to enter. A former EAPPI observer, disguised as an Israeli soldier, guarded the entrance, forbidding Palestinians to enter. The demonstration ended with a chant of “The wall must fall. The wall must fall” and a symbolic tearing down of the wall.
- In 2013, An EA from the US stated in a presentation that he participated in a “journey along the Palestinian via Delarosa called the Contemporary Way of the Cross…at each station of the cross we reflected on the continuing suffering of the Palestinian people and linked it with the original events of Good Friday during another occupation two thousand years ago…” (38:13-38:46, emphasis added). The EA also promoted BDS campaigns against Israel, proclaiming that “Soda Stream is very popular in the United States… if you would like to support the Soda Stream boycott, I have some cards…and this afternoon I’m going to be joining Jewish Voice for Peace for their monthly boycott… (36:00-37:00, emphasis added).
- In May 2012, FinnChurchAid and EAPPI launched a campaign to “mark products from the settlements to tell their true origin…The settlements are a key obstacle to peace in the Middle East. In addition to the serious human rights abuses.”
- EAPPI’s National Coordinators are also active in anti-Israel advocacy, with some funding fringe NGOs involved in BDS and lawfare campaigns against Israel.
- EAPPI South Africa National Coordinator Dudu Mahlangu-Masango is signatory to a November 2012 letter to President Zuma that states, “Some Gazans are involved in shooting home-made ‘rockets’ into Israel, and while we disapprove of this, it is a reaction of an oppressed people to the much greater violence inflicted on the people of Gaza by Israel and also in response to Israel’s ongoing and systematic violence against the Palestinian people…our government should give Israel an ultimatum: if one more civilian is killed, the Israeli ambassador will be sent back to Israel and our ambassador will be recalled…We also call on our government and civil society to instigate broad-based boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel” (emphasis added).
- On May 15, 2018, during a television interview, when asked whether she thinks that South Africa should break diplomatic relations with Israel completely, Masango-Mahlangu answered “Coming from South Africa Apartheid system…that’s what they are doing was wrong they had to be sanctioned, so yes I agree, a total sanctions between South Africa and Israel I think will be the way out…”
- In the United Kingdom and Ireland, EAPPI is administered by the Quakers in Britain on behalf of 16 partner churches and NGOs, including Christian Aid, CAFOD, and Trocaire. According to EAPPI UK, “While EAPPI UK Ireland is not a member of the BDS movement and does not advocate for BDS, we support the right of organizations and citizens to engage in such democratic and legitimate means of nonviolent protest. We do advocate for an end to trade with Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine” (emphasis added).
- Norwegian Church Aid
- In Norway, EAPPI is administered by Norwegian Church Aid.
- Former EAPPI advocacy officer Nader Hanna explained that “NCA is also involved in recruitment, which is the most important. So they (NCA), they’re advertised – they do interviews, they receive applications, they do tests, and they also test them before they come here. And when they go back home, NCA is also coordinating their advocacy efforts back home…NCA is funding, and facilitates so that candidates are able to come and participate in this program.”
- Finn Church Aid
- Finn Church Aid is the “Finnish participant” of EAPPI.
- According to EAPPI Finland, “In Finland, the Foreign Ministry is responsible for selecting and coaching the observers. The Church’s Foreign Aid is a partnership between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry finances Finland’s EAPPI activities with partner organizations. Partner organizations are required to have a clearly defined development cooperation program that is in line with the Finnish development policy objectives.”
- In 2014, Finn Church Aid and EAPPI traveled to major university campuses in Finland, alleging that Israel victimizes and discriminates against the Palestinian population and “vindictively persecutes” Palestinian children.
- EAs in Finland have been active in lobbying on the issue of the EU’s labelling of settlement products, “appealing also to MEPs, e.g. during the annual EAPPI lobby trips to Brussels, arranged by WCC.”
- Bread for the World
- Diakonia is a member of the Swedish branch of EAPPI.
- In 2012, EAPPI “extend[ed] a special thanks to Diakonia for providing their expertise on international law in contribution” to EAPPI’s core publication, “Faith Under Occupation” (jointly published with the World Council of Churches and the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre in 2012). The publication places sole blame on Israel for the difficulties faced by Christians in the Holy Land and seeks to “disprove” what it calls “unfounded Israeli and Christian Zionist propaganda that Palestinian Christians are depopulating due to Muslim fundamentalism in Palestinian society.”
- Act for Peace
- According to its website, “EAPPI is managed by Act for Peace” in Australia. On return to Australia, EAPPI “work[s] with the Act for Peace team, other returned Accompaniers and advocacy groups to develop and implement an awareness-raising and advocacy plan.”
- A number of local Israeli and Palestinian NGOs constitute EAPPI’s “Local Reference Group (LRG),” which “provides guidance, advice and support to the WCC-EAPPI staff and National Coordinators…strengthening relations with the local churches and local partner organizations, as well as promoting the WCC’s EAPPI at local and national levels…The LRG meets regularly, supervising the programme and ensuring its alignment at all times with the WCC’s objectives.”
- EAPPI is a “Contributing Partner” of UNICEF’s “Working Group ON Grave Violations against Children” aimed at undertaking “consolidated efforts to monitor and report on grave violations against children in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).” (Read NGO Monitor’s Report “UNICEF and its NGO Working Group: Failing Children.)
- Member of the “Displacement Work Group,” an initiative of Badil and OCHA to “monitor human rights violations (evictions, home demolitions, land confiscations) resulting in the displacement of people from their lands and communities,” along with: Addameer, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, AIC, ARIJ, Badil, Bimkom, B’Tselem, CARE Intnl., DCI – Palestine section, Diakonia, Ir Amim, Maan Development Ctr, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam UK, Oxfam Solidarite – Belgium, PA Govt. Spokesperson, PCHR, RHR, Society of St. Yves, Save the Children UK, Shatil, UNFPA, Stop the Wall, UNFPA, WCLAC, World Vision, and Yesh Din.
- EAPPI partners with various UN bodies, including UNICEF and UNRWA. In 2013, EAPPI and UNICEF began a project for Palestinian children “who must pass through military checkpoints or face the risk of harassment and violence from Israeli settlers and soldiers.”
- EAPPI also partners with HEKS. According to HEKS’ website, “HEKS and its partners are helping to protect the civilian population as well as human rights advocates and peace activists, for example, through accompaniment by international human rights observers under the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).”
- Member of Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA).
- In 2017, launched a campaign titled “#OpenGaza 50 Years Of Occupation. 10 Years Of Illegal Blockade” stating that “collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza must end” and that “Gaza is an open air prison.”
- In August 2015, AIDA launched a campaign to “highlight the displacement of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” The campaign included a press release of 31 international organizations calling on “world leaders to take urgent action to halt ongoing demolitions and hold the government of Israel accountable for the wanton destruction of Palestinian property and of projects funded by international aid in the occupied West Bank,” as well as two infographics on “Displacement and Replacement…Separating Palestinians Across the West Bank” and “20 Years of Talks- Keeping Palestinians Occupied.”
- Church group that sends volunteers to the West Bank to witness life under occupation Sandy Rushty, The Jewish Chronicle, May 27, 2016
- When to be ecumenical - and when not Noru Tsalic, The Times of Israel, June 15, 2014
- What are you hiding? NGOs, funding and websites Naftali Balanson, Jerusalem Post, August 6, 2012
- The Palestinian "Kairos" Document: A Behind-the-Scenes Analysis Malcolm Lowe, New English Review, April 2010
- CCAR Resolution on the 2009 Kairos Document Central Conference of American Rabbis, April 15, 2010