Jerusalem 14/01/19 – The World Council of Churches (WCC) has sent nearly 2,000 activists to Israel and the West Bank since 2002, training them in anti-Israel advocacy and dispatching them to communities around the world. The project is paid for, in part, by European and other governments, a new report from NGO Monitor finds.
The anti-Israel activists are part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), a WCC flagship initiative. Participants are sent to “witness life under occupation.” This WCC activity is unique and has no parallel in other conflict zones.
EAPPI misuse tourist visas to enter Israel, where the group has no legal status. They are hosted in Jerusalem by a WCC affiliate, the Jerusalem Interchurch Center (JIC). Notably, the head of JIC, Yusuf Dahar, is one of the authors of the Kairos Palestine Document, which legitimizes terror, embraces anti-Jewish theology, and rejects Jewish history. Similar views have been expressed by a number of WCC officials.
Despite marketing itself as human rights program, EAPPI emphasizes political advocacy. NGO Monitor research finds that upon return to their home countries, many activists engage in anti-Israel demonization including BDS campaigns and comparisons of Israel to apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany. EAPPI rhetoric at times draws upon theological opposition to Israel’s existence and crosses into overt antisemitism.
NGO Monitor analysis shows that support for EAPPI is also provided by UNICEF and by country-specific NGOs and church organizations, including the “National Coordinators” that recruit and fundraise locally. Government donors include UK, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and Japan. From 2017 to 2019, Norway contributed nearly $2 million, while in 2017-2018 Sweden gave $500,000.
During their West Bank “tours,” EAPPI activists work closely with UN agencies and NGOs that coordinate politicized anti-Israel campaigns. In this capacity, EAPPI does “a lot of administrative work which is fed into UN systems.” EAPPI also partners with radical Israeli and Palestinian political NGOs, including groups advocating BDS and/or that accuse Israel of “war crimes.”
Founder and President of NGO Monitor, Professor Gerald Steinberg, stated, “We are sharing our research with the public and decision-makers as part of an informed discussion on EAPPI’s agenda and funding. The research highlights EAPPI’s radical agenda, which, rather than advancing or defending human rights, is a platform for conflict and antisemitism. We have received numerous inquiries from Christian and Jewish groups calling attention to the central role played by EAPPI alumni in leading BDS and other delegitimization campaigns.”
Steinberg added that “By singling out Israel and using classical theological references, EAPPI is guilty of using the terms identified in the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s working definition of antisemitism. The WCC should instead adopt this definition, which has been adopted by a number of countries and parliaments.”