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World Council of Churches (WCC)

Profile

Country/TerritorySwitzerland
Websitewww.oikoumene.org/
In their own words"Call[ing] one another to visible unity in one faith and in one Eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and common life in Christ, through witness and service to the world, and to advance towards that unity in order that the world may believe.”

Funding

Activities

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a collective of “347 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories.”

Structure

BDS Activities

  • Though WCC claims that it “is not a member of any alliance that is generally promoting a boycott or a member of the so-called ‘BDS-movement,’ and that “The WCC has never called for an economic boycott on the state of Israel,” it plays a key role in mobilizing churches worldwide to support international BDScampaigns against Israel, including through the EAPPI and PIEF programs.
  • In contrast to its claim that it does not support BDS, the WCC calls on member churchesto be “more active agents” by “promoting and supporting all non-violent efforts to end the occupation (including considering appropriate economic and other measures).”
  • The WCC is a central promoter of the Kairos Palestine document, which characterizes terrorist acts of “armed resistance” as “Palestinian legal resistance,” denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, calls to mobilize churches worldwide in the call for BDS, and compares Israel with the South African apartheid regime.
  • A January 2017 policy document endorsed BDS measures stating that “Certain economic measures are legitimate forms of non-violent resistance to occupation and positive pressure for peace. WCC supports an international boycott of goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT. WCC considers targeted economic measures an important non-violent strategy for promoting peace and abating violence, and encourages member churches to avoid investments or other economic links to illegal activities on occupied territory. Member churches are encouraged to ‘thoughtfully and prayerfully consider how they might respond from the foundation of their faith’ in their own contexts.”
  • 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.”
  • September 2016 joint statement with the National Council of Churches (NCC) defended discriminatory BDS campaigns and called on the US government to “reconsider” its military aid package to Israel. The statement further justified Palestinian violence because Israel “cannot keep an entire people subject to pressure and violence for many years and not expect a violent reaction.”
  • In September 2016, WCC General Secretary Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, urged the United States to “reconsider its proposed $38 billion military aid package to Israel” and “end the current wave of legislative efforts to penalize the use of non-violent economic measures to influence policy in Israel.”
  • WCC approvingly described a series of BDS decisions made by WCC member churches Presbyterian Church USA and the United Methodist Church, as “commendable in both method and manner.”

Antisemitism

  • Refers to Christian Zionism “as a form of Christian fundamentalism” and claims that “Christians who promote “Christian Zionism” distort the interpretation of the Word of God and the historic connection of Palestinians—Christians and Muslims—to the Holy Land, enable the manipulation of public opinion by Zionist lobbies, and damage intra-Christian relations.”
  • In June 2017, the WCC published and circulated a letter by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine that called on the UK to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, labeled Israel a “colonial state,” and portrayed Palestinians as the true victims of the Holocaust.
  • In a June 21, 2017 statement, WCC General Secretary, Olav Fykse Tveit compared Israel’s West Bank presence to the Nazi occupation of Norway, saying “I heard about the occupation of my country during the five years of World War II as the story of my parents. Now I see and hear the stories of 50 years of occupation, several generations, many of whom have never seen anything else than this.”
  • Robert O. Smith, co-moderator of Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF), is an ardent opponent of Zionism, utilizing religious terminology to attack its supporters.
    • At a 2015 conference in South Africa, Smith argued that “Christian theology that support Zionism is heresy… Such Christian theology that support Zionism is a false teaching that must be confronted…It is essential that we all understand that the Israel of the bible, the ancient Israelites, are not linked in any substantive or material way to the contemporary modern State of Israel. The biblical narrative of Israel has almost nothing to do with contemporary Israel other than the intentional manipulation of sacred texts to justify a political project” (emphasis added).
    • A 2014 Nakba Day message from Robert Smith and Muna Mushahwar, co-moderators of PIEF, stated that “The ‘Nakba’ continues today…the State of Israel continues its rapacious acquisition of Palestinian land and its systematic suppression and abuse of the Palestinian people…The only thing that will change Israel’s policies and behavior is international pressure…”
    • In December 2014, Smith spoke at Kairos Palestine’s conference “Life with Dignity” saying that “The message is loud and clear: Kairos Palestine is a thundering declaration that Palestinian Christians refuse to accept all forms of oppression, both explicit and subtle. Israeli occupation is a sin against God and humanity”(emphasis added).
  • In 2014, the Facebook page for World Council of Churches World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI 2014) included posts promoting overtly antisemitic material, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and a documentary by neo-Nazi David Duke called “Israeli Genocide in Gaza.” The Facebook page also contains an antisemitic cartoon depicting Israel – with a prominent Star of David – as a snake.
  • In May 2013, WCC implied that Israel’s very existence is illegitimate, accusing it of “sixty-five years [] of continuing dispossession of Palestinian people—Christian and Muslim alike—from their land by Israeli occupation.”
  • The WCC and Sabeel published a 2008 resource booklet titled “Imagine Peace,” which maintains that Jesus’ promise of peace is unfulfilled because “this part of the world is under the domination of American/Israeli military power.”

Political Advocacy

  • WCC accuses Israel of “permanent colonization” as well as maintaining a “matrix of control” over the Palestinian people.
  • The WCC participated in the infamous NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference, and was instrumental in removing a paragraph in the final declaration that condemned “prevalence of antizionism and attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel through wildly inaccurate charges of genocide, war crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, as a virulent contemporary form of anti-Semitism.”
  • Engages in international advocacy and in September 2014 presented a “set of recommendations advocating the rights of stateless persons” at the First Global Forum on Statelessness organized by the UNHRC.
  • During the 2014 Gaza conflict, WCC released several statements placing sole blame for the conflict on Israel and ignoring Hamas terrorism against Israeli civilians. One statement, issued July 11, alleged that, “What is happening in Gaza now is not an isolated tragedy. These events have to be seen in the context of the occupation of Palestinian territories that began in 1967. The WCC has always called for an end to this illegal occupation and the continuous blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel. Without an end to the occupation, the cycle of violence will continue.”
  • On the eve of the 2014 Gaza war, the WCC General Secretary “affirmed that ‘collective retribution is not justice, nor will it lead to peace.’” The WCC expanded on this, saying “Unfortunately and sadly, we are still witnessing demolition of Palestinian homes, acts of revenge and collective punishment measures by the Israeli army against Palestinians, dangerous threats of increased Israeli military attacks against Palestinians in Gaza, and rocket attacks from Gaza.”
  • WCC, together with PIEF, organizes the annual World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI), which seeks to target policy-makers, community groups, and local parishes regarding “the urgent need” to end the “illegal occupation and secure the legitimate rights and future of both peoples.” The 2014 WWPPI focused on “Palestinian political prisoners” – a term that, in PIEF’s usage, includes terrorists convicted for attacks against civilians. (See here for NGO Monitor’s factsheet on the World Council of Churches’ “World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel”- September 21-27, 2014).

EAPPI

  • In 2016, WCC allocated $1.3 million to Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
  • EAPPI was founded in 2002 by the WCC and is considered to be the WCC’s “flagship project” on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
  • EAPPI‘s sends volunteers to the West Bank to “witness life under occupation.” 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.
  • EAPPI champions a one-sided Palestinian narrative, participating in activities commemorating the Palestinian “Nakba” (catastrophe) and promoting a “right of return.” It ignores the numerous terror attacks against Israelis and blames only Israel for the conflict. EAPPI engages in BDS campaigns, including “advocacy work” against “corporations with linkage to the illegal settlements.”
  • 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.
    • 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.”
  • EAPPI contributes to a UN “Working Group” consisting of a number of UN agencies and NGOs that collaborate on and coordinate politicized anti-Israel campaigns in the West Bank. In this capacity, EAPPI does “a lot of administrative work which is fed into UN systems.”
  • 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’TselemRabbis for Human RightsMachsom WatchJerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), Wi’am- the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, and the Alternative Tourism Group.

Partners

  • WCC is an “Observer” for Act Alliance EU.
    • Act Alliance EU was founded in order “to strengthen the cooperation between the European development organisations which work closely together with the World Council of Churches (WCC).”
    • Act Alliance EU lobbies international frameworks, mainly the EU, to apply “pressure” on Israel; promotes BDS campaigns; and utilizes highly biased and politicized language demonizing Israel.
  • The WCC works closely with Sabeel, a Palestinian NGO that claims that the Palestinians represent a modern-day version of Jesus’ suffering and utilizes deicide imagery and supercessionist rhetoric to demonize Israel and Judaism.

2014-2016 Funding to WCC (Amounts in CHF)

Contributor201420152016
Direct government funding
Norway649,858.96205,02093,417
Switzerland91,631.66154,080
Canada
Indirect government funding to WCC
Act for Peace12,320
Bread for the World (Germany)5,509,859.964,895,3654,466,034
Christian Aid (UK)102,093.75139,093.75107,901
Church World Service42,982.63
DanChurch Aid (Denmark)222,952.92217,682.37127,170
Diakonie Auslandshilfe - Osterreichische (Germany)17,420.508,896.4026,409
FinnChurch Aid (Finland)553,546.21217,682.75353,635
HEKS - Swiss Interchurch Aid (Switzerland)350,169.11304,692348,679
ICCO (Netherlands)638,086.00498,019.20
Kerk in Actie (Netherlands)434,780.40366,280.16338,286
Lutheran World Federation457.805,0005,000
Norwegian Church Aid (Norway)521,174.67469,072.67584,148
UNICEF235,961.1910,000342,391
Presbyterian Church (USA)424,555.02437,475.67435,622
Church of Sweden2,169,919.352,028,397.301,806,710
Cordaid8,896.80
World Vision19,989.504,848
Caritas2,474

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Further Reading