[Opinion] Christmas Spirit Gone Awry
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The holiday season is traditionally a time for good cheer, well wishes and fellowship. Season’s greetings, carols and decorations can make even the non-observant smile. Yet, in a new report issued by Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor, “‘Tis The Season 2013: How Anti-Israel NGOs Manipulate Christmas,” a less-cheerful side of the Christmas season is revealed – a pattern of radical non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that exploit the holidays for politicized attacks against Israel.
As shown in the report, these NGOs expropriate traditional Christmas messages and symbols, using offensive, inflammatory, and often blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric in Christmas carols, holiday cards, nativity scenes, verses, and prayers. These mediums are then used to promote anti-Israel themes and support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) efforts.
This year, distorted stories, sermons, prayers, and the use of biblical figures, are especially prominent. These messages serve as alternative material for spiritual and educational purposes, making them especially pernicious. Indeed, the abuse of Christmas messages is part of a broad international campaign to introduce political warfare against Israel into churches. As seen in NGO Monitor’s “BDS in the Pews” project, Palestinian Christian NGOs consistently provide the theological and ideological frameworks for these attacks.
These statements describe a one-sided version of the current political reality, conspicuously omitting the context of deadly terrorism and other violence against Israelis. Many of the NGOs use the image of the Israeli security barrier, in particular surrounding Bethlehem, in their holiday cards and messages, entirely ignoring the role this structure has played in preventing deadly terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
These depictions, messages, and attacks, not only serve to misrepresent a complex political context. They also hijack the messages and warm feelings engendered by Christmas, debasing the very meaning of the holiday.
Avigail Sugarman is deputy editor at the Research Department of NGO Monitor