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Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center


Country/TerritoryPalestinian Authority
Founded1989, based in Jerusalem, Israel
In their own wordsAn “ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians,” which “encourages Christians from around the world to work for justice and to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”


  • According to information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, Sabeel’s 2013 total income was NIS 2.6 million (latest available, accessed November 1, 2016).
  • 2011/2012 donors include: Kerk in Actie (Netherlands); Diakonia (Sweden); Mennonite Central Committee (U.S. and Canada); Church of Scotland; Presbyterian Church USA; Presbyterian Church of Canada; United Church of Christ; Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace; and Friends of Sabeel chapters in North America, UK, Norway, among others. (See chart below).


  • Active in anti-Israel political campaigns, including church divestment campaigns.
  • Supports the “one state solution,” meaning the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.  Its “Vision for the Future” states: “The ideal and best solution has always been to envisage ultimately a bi-national state in Palestine-Israel… One state for two nations and three religions.” (emphasis added).
  • Applying “liberation theology,” claims that Palestinians represent a modern-day version of Jesus’ suffering. This includes deicide imagery, and supercessionist rhetoric used to demonize Israel and Judaism.
  • Sabeel director Naim Ateek frequently employs antisemitic themes and imagery. In 2011, he declared that “The establishment of Israel was a relapse to the most primitive concepts of an exclusive, tribal God.”  In 2001, he further maintained: “In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge Golgatha. The Israeli government crucifixion system (emphasis added) is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.”
  • Ateek was one of the signatories of the Kairos Palestine document, which advocates for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) and denies the Jewish historical connection to the land of Israel.
  • Ateek has written (2002) of “an Israeli form of apartheid that is much worse than what was practiced in South Africa.” He blamed Israel for the suicide bombing attacks saying, “It was in the crucible of the occupation that they were shaped and formed. And if Israel labels them as terrorists, they are, after all the product of its own making.”
  • In March 2017, Sabeel will hold its tenth international conference in Jerusalem to mark “100 years since the Balfour Declaration; 70 years since the UN Partition Plan; 50 years since the occupation of the state of Palestine: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; 30 years since the beginning of the first intifada, and 10 years since the beginning of political divisions among our Palestinian people.”
    • The description of the event states that “God expects us to practice justice and liberation for all the oppressed people among us, and especially for the Palestinians.” Sabeel calls on “both local and international communities” to “join together, recommit ourselves, and exert the needed pressure on the international arena to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israel, to establish justice on the basis of international law, and to proclaim liberation for all our peoples.”
  • Issued a December 2013 “Christmas Message” focusing on the issue of the Israeli Beouin in the Negev, Ateek made a triumphalist declaration that “God’s love for all people was expressed in and through the coming of Jesus Christ… In Christ, the evil of discrimination and bigotry is obliterated.”  He then contrasts this with Judaism: “The appalling irony is that what the Jewish people longed for over the centuries when they were weak, they are unwilling to give to others now that they have become strong.”  (A number of highly politicized NGOs have sought to exploit the issue of the Bedouin in the Negev in an effort to demonize and delegitimize Israel in the international arena.)
  • Hosted a March 2014 conference in California. Topics included: “The South African anti-apartheid movement and the Palestinian struggle”; “Strategies for boycott and divestment campaign”; and “Palestine and the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.” Conference speakers will include Omar Barghouti, co-founder of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), who is active in promoting BDS and compares Israeli efforts to contain terrorism to the antisemitic polices of Nazi Germany.
  • The Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) website featured a January 15, 2014 press release on “Zionism Unsettled,” an “educational resource” of the Presbyterian Church that claims that Zionism is a “false theology” and is aimed at promoting the upcoming anti-Israel divestment resolution that will be presented at the Presbyterian Church National Biennial General Assembly in Detroit on June 14-24, 2014.
  • On November 2, 2013, FOSNA sent letters to the CEOs of 14 major companies, urging them to boycott SodaStream products.
2012 Donors (Partial List)Amount (in NIS)
Kerk in Actie (Netherlands)240000
Diakonia (Sweden)217716
Mennonite Central Committee (U.S. and Canada)58215
Church of Scotland23493
United Church of Christ17863
The Presbyterian Church of Canada18590
Friends of Sabeel North America265720
Friends of Sabeel UK11583
Friends of Sabeel Norway15790

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