In the courtyard of St. James Church in Piccadilly, London, stands a replica of Israel’s West Bank security barrier so colossal it almost blocks the church itself.
The faux wall is part of a “Bethlehem Unwrapped” Christmas festival produced in association with an assortment of NGOs that are one-sided and dogmatic in their hostility toward Israel.
Misrepresenting Israel’s security barrier, the festival overlooks the reason it was built in the first place: to stop suicide terrorists attacking civilians in Israel. It also ignores the precipitous decline in terror attacks following the barrier’s construction.
…St. James chose to advance its “human rights agenda” by dedicating the Christmas season to this Bethlehem Unwrapped event, co-produced with a coterie of organizations that are dogmatically biased against Israel.
ICAHD, War on Want, Amos Trust and Holy Land Trust are all strong proponents of anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. Their rhetoric includes demonizing portrayals of Israel as an “apartheid” or “racist” state, which is part of the ongoing efforts to strip Israel of international legitimacy. Another co-producer, Interpal, is listed by the US Department of Treasury as being subject to Executive Order 13224, “blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism.”
However, Bethlehem Unwrapped should be placed within the much larger context of how this alliance of churches, Christian aid societies, and faith-based NGOs are promoting blatantly hostile political campaigns against Israel.
Taxpayer money, mostly European, is disbursed through the funding mechanisms of each country’s international aid framework.
In turn, these government agencies allocate grants to various Christian aid societies, which then distribute funds to a broad range of humanitarian projects. In the Israeli Palestinian sphere, however, they often transfer funds to highly politicized NGOs, many of which exploit moral principles for immoral objectives.
This Bethlehem Unwrapped festival is the latest manifestation of the process by which churches have been conscripted by anti-Israel activists to further their agenda, singling out the nation-state of the Jewish people in a manner that makes a mockery of universal human rights principles. As a result, St. James has also set back the historic Christian Jewish post-Holocaust rapprochement.
The author is a 2013-2014 Research Fellow for the BDS in the Pews Project at NGO Monitor in Jerusalem.