World Council of Churches (WCC)
|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.”|
- In 2021, total income was CHF 22 million; total expenses were CHF 19.3 million.
- Donors include: Norway, Bread for the World (Germany), Christian Aid (UK), DanChurchAid (Denmark), Finn Church Aid (Finland), Norwegian Church Aid (Norway), ICCO (Netherlands), Kerk in Actie (Netherlands), UNICEF, as well as numerous other churches and church aid organizations. (See below for detailed funding information.)
- In 2021-2024, the EU is granting €404,515 to the World Council of Churches (WCC) to “maintaina sustainable and lively Palestinian and Bedouin presence in East Jerusalem through protective presence, monitoring, documenting and advocacy.”7 Among other indicators, the EU’s grant language suggests that the project will be carried out by the WCC’s Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
- The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a collective of “347 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories.”
- In the Middle East, the WCC has 12 member churches, all of which are active in the “Israel / Palestine” network.
- The WCC has established several highly biased and politicized subgroups, including Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF), and the Jerusalem Interchurch Centre (JIC). (See below for more information on EAPPI.)
- PIEF was founded “to catalyze and coordinate new and existing church advocacy for peace, aimed at ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories in accordance with UN resolutions.”
- JIC claims to “bring the voice and the concerns of Palestinian Christians to the wide ecumenical family and to the world.” Together with EAPPI, the JIC arranges highly biased and politicized international ecumenical visits to join Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAPPI volunteers) for “short gatherings and solidarity actions,” including “observing checkpoints” and “gate watches at the wall.” The Israeli perspective is entirely omitted.
- The regional chapter of the WCC, called the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), was founded in 1974, and includes the Department of Service to the Palestine Refugees (DSPR), a branch that is specifically designated to promote the Palestinian refugee narrative. Within the DSPR, the Near Eastern Council of Churches International Christian Committee (NECC-ICC) dispenses funds to Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work (NECCCRW) focuses on Gaza.
- 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 2022, moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (WCC-CCIA) Rev. Frank Chikane stated in an radio interview that “Europe needs to get over the guilt of the killing of Jews…because it’s this guilt which is allowing Palestinians to be killed.”
- In February 2021, Rev. Frank Chikane, moderator of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (WCC-CCIA), participated in a zoom conference and portrayed Israel as “demons” and stating that “those who support Israel to brutalize Palestinians,  the blood of the people of Palestine will be sought from them because they collaborate by allowing this system to continue.”
- In November 2020, WCC shared a statement by the Church of Norway referring to Christian Zionism as “theologically unacceptable and incompatible with human rights.”
- In January 2019, the WCC was alerted to severe antisemitism taking place under the auspices of its flagship Ecumenical Accompaniment Program, known as EAPPI (see below). The WCC was asked to adopt the IHRA definition to prevent future antisemitic incidents in the EAPPI program. In response, the WCC distorted the IHRA definition and minimized its significance, stating that it would “welcome a sufficiently precise and sufficiently widely accepted definition of antisemitism to clearly identify instances of condemnable hatred of Jews as Jews, while protecting legitimate criticism of the actions of individuals, groups or of the government of Israel from being falsely characterized as ‘antisemitic’. However, the definition proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) does not greatly assist in meeting these purposes. Its vague and inclusive formulation unfortunately tends towards assisting those who would portray any criticism of Israeli government policies as being motivated by antisemitism.”
- The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by nearly 30 countries and counting, represents the international consensus definition of antisemitism, as well as how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. An example of the latter includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- 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.”
- 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.
- In October 2022, WCC published an article blaming Israel for a “severe shortage of clean water” in the West Bank. The article ignored evidence that Israel provides Palestinians in the West Bank with more water than required under the Oslo framework and that poor management by the PA of infrastructure, waste, and theft of up to 50 percent of supplies in some Palestinian areas.
- In June 2022, Rev. Chikane stated in an interview alleging that he witnessed in Israel “clearly a domination of one group against another and that it used discriminatory laws and therefore qualifies squarely in the definition of an apartheid state. Israel is an apartheid state….it is worse than apartheid in South Africa” (emphasis added).
- In March 2021, WCC delivered a statement to the UN Human Rights Council falsely claiming that Israel has “legal obligations” to provide vaccines to the Palestinians, while altogether ignoring that Palestinians residing in Jerusalem are part of the Israeli health care system; that under the Oslo Accords the PA is responsible for health care of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; and that the PA has adopted its own vaccine policy for its population.
- In June 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, WCC published a press release expressing its “dismay and sadness at the violence and bloodshed resulting from the recent military live-fire response to the demonstrations in Gaza.” WCC urged the “State of Israel to cease all military – especially live-fire – responses to non-violent unarmed civilian demonstrations,” and called for an “international inquiry into the events in Gaza, and for those responsible for crimes under international law to be held accountable.” WCC ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
- 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).
- 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.”
- A 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.”
- In 2021, WCC allocated $393,462 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’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.
- In June 2022, Jerry Pillay was appointed WCC General Secretary.
- In 2016, Pillay authored a paper titled “Apartheid in the Holy Land: Theological reflections on the Israel and/or Palestine situation from a South African perspective.” The paper stated that “a comparison between the Israel-Palestine conflict and the South African apartheid experience is, indeed, justifiable,” and called on churches to “resist the empirical ambition of Israeli Jews and pave the way for a new alternative society in Israel-Palestine where there is just peace and fullness of life for all.”
- In 2014, Pillay spoke at an event organized by the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA, declaring, “For the sake of just peace we may have to support boycott, divestment and sanctions. We may have to go against those we do not wish to isolate but in the words of Luther we may need to say: ‘Here I stand, I can do no other! So help me, God.’”
- In December 2012, following Pillay’s participation in a delegation of South African Christian leaders to Israel, Pillay was a signatory on a joint statement claiming “we experienced that the Palestinians live in open-air prisons…Being South African, it felt like walking into another apartheid ambush” (emphasis added).
- 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.
2019-2021 Funding to WCC (Amounts in CHF)
|Direct government funding||
|Indirect government funding to WCC||
|Act for Peace||1,027||1,925||38,526
|Bread for the World (Germany)||4,423,538||4,420,682||4,717,691
|Christian Aid (UK)||88,382||82,586||90,206
|FinnChurch Aid (Finland)||220,599||273,371||373,883
|HEKS - Swiss Interchurch Aid (Switzerland)||50,000||68,300||125,625
|Kerk in Actie (Netherlands)||370,920||316,230||376,916
|Norwegian Church Aid (Norway)||368,385||386,288||419,374
|Presbyterian Church (USA)||352,203||328,572||455,867
|Church of Sweden||1,373,140||1,467,244||1,652,563
|United Church of Canada||177,537||279,282||304,979
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