A number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) claiming a moral human rights agenda are exploiting the holiday season and religious messages to advance prejudicial anti-Israel campaigns including in some cases blatant antisemitism, reports Jerusalem based research institute NGO Monitor.

As in previous years, groups such as Christian Aid (UK), Kairos Palestine, Sabeel, War on Want (UK), Amos Trust, and Adalah-NY abuse holiday and religious symbols, using offensive and inflammatory rhetoric in Christmas carols, holiday messages and cards, and nativity scenes. Some use their holiday appeals to encourage boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns, adding fuel to recent discriminatory boycotts against academic institutions in Israel.

This detailed report, “Tis the Season 2013: How Anti-Israel NGOs Manipulate Christmas,” is part of BDS in the Pews, NGO Monitor’s systematic examination of Church-based NGO involvement in political campaigns against Israel. The expropriation of Christmas messages reflects the ongoing international campaign to introduce political warfare against Israel into Christian communities. The project includes the launch of a website, which hosts a series of reports that analyze the activities and funding of these groups.

Yitzhak Santis, Chief Programs Officer and head of the BDS in the Pews project notes, “The growing role of churches, Christian aid societies, and faith-based NGOs in political campaigns against Israel is tragically eroding the historic reconciliation between Jews and Christians following the Holocaust. Through some of these NGO frameworks, classical anti-Jewish theologies are re-emerging, and that is extremely disturbing.”

This year’s anti-Israel NGO Christmas messages include:

  • Holiday Messages: Sabeel’s 2013 annual Christmas message makes a grossly generalized statement raising an age old canard accusing Jews of stinginess: “The appalling irony is that what the Jewish people longed for over the centuries when they were weak, they are unwilling to give to others now that they have become strong” and negatively compares this to Christianity: “In Christ, the evil of discrimination and bigotry is obliterated.”
  • Sermons: The Kairos Palestine pamphlet with contributions from radical NGOs exploits traditional Christian sources, using religious figures and biblical stories as part of politicized messages.
  • Carols: Adalah-NY activists sang from the “The Boycott Leviev Holiday Songbook – Why SHOP when you can help STOP Apartheid,” which includes altered versions of traditional holiday songs.
  • Holiday Cards: The UK Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is selling a Christmas card with Palestinian symbols, synthesized with classic Christmas imagery.
  • BDS Campaigns: Friends of Sabeel-North America is running a campaign to “Send a Christmas Appeal to the SodaStream14,” encouraging major companies to discontinue sales from this Israel-based company.

Many of these NGOs are funded by European and other governments. Sabeel is funded by Sweden (via Diakonia) and the Netherlands (via ICCO and Kerk in Actie); War on Want by UK, EU, and Ireland; Christian Aid by UK, Ireland, Norway, and EU.

Santis concluded, “As funders, these governments are enablers and share the moral responsibility for the actions of the NGOs.”

Read the full Christmas report

Read Christmas reports from previous years

Learn more about the BDS in the Pews project