Jerusalem – In advance of a summer when multiple churches will entertain resolutions calling for boycotts of Israel, NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute, has issued an in-depth report, Sabeel’s Theology of Contempt: Injecting Anti-Israel and Antisemitic Activism into Churches. The report focuses on the Palestinian Christian group known as “Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center.” This Jerusalem-based organization plays a central theological role for pro-Palestinian campaigners in churches worldwide. Sabeel is a major actor in the effort to convince Christian denominations to support BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) against Israel in North America, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere.
“Sabeel is a primary source of the theological and ideological undergirding of most anti-Israel political efforts in churches globally, including church divestment campaigns,” said Yitzhak Santis, NGO Monitor’s chief programs officer and the report’s author. “Disturbingly, Sabeel’s anti-Israel message is often intertwined with theological antisemitism. In the current climate of increasing antisemitism in Europe and elsewhere, Sabeel’s message can be potentially dangerous to the safety and well-being of Jews everywhere.”
Among the report’s key findings is Sabeel’s role as a major contributor to the well-funded international network of NGOs that delegitimize Israel. One example of how Sabeel operates is the United Church of Christ (U.S.), which is meeting next week in Cleveland to deliberate on a resolution calling for divestment from Israel. Another resolution before the UCC would instruct the church to “recognize the actions of Israel against the Palestinians as apartheid.” Elements in the UCC actively promote Sabeel’s materials and partner with Sabeel’s U.S. operation, Friends of Sabeel North America.
Sabeel also supports a “one state” framework (meaning the elimination of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state) by promoting what it calls the “ideal and best solution” as being “ultimately a bi-national state in Palestine-Israel… One state for two nations and three religions.”
“Sabeel receives a significant portion of its funding from European governments through Christian aid societies in Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway,” said Santis. “In this regard,” according to Santis, “European taxpayers are supporting the theological antisemitism in the 21st century.”
Sabeel is registered with the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits. As such, it is required by law to report foreign governmental financing to Israel’s Registrar. However, Sabeel does not appear in the Registrar’s foreign funding database, suggesting it does not submit the requisite filings mandated by law. Such a failure would reflect a lack of financial transparency and accountability.