Jerusalem – As the World Council of Churches (WCC) begins today its annual “World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel” (WWPPI), this year’s theme, Let My People Go, calls for the release of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, including those convicted of terrorism and mass murder. Materials produced for WWPPI deceptively refer to such individuals as “political prisoners.”
“We are puzzled that the World Council of Churches, who claims a prophetic moral voice, would so arbitrarily call for the release of terrorists,” says Yitzhak Santis, Chief Programs Officer of NGO Monitor and director of the organization’s BDS in the Pews project. “In doing so, the WCC sends a message of indifference to Israeli terror victims and their bereaved families.”
The documents produced by various World Council of Churches subsidiaries, such as a dossier entitled “Palestinian Prisoners: A Question of Conscience” and a program booklet “Let My People Go,” severely minimize the threat terrorism poses to civilians and human rights, while also encouraging special prayers for all prisoners, terrorists included. The publications suggest that all Palestinians in Israeli jails were “arrested in relation to the occupation” and are therefore “political prisoners.”
World Council of Churches identifies prisoner releases as “achievements,” ignoring the serious threat to human rights and rule of law posed by their release. Indeed, some of the prisoners released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange have carried out additional terror attacks against Israeli civilians. “It is troubling that the World Council of Churches, in conjunction with other NGOs including Addameer, Defence for Children International- Palestine (DCI-PS), Hurryyat, Kairos Palestine, and the WCC subsidiary Jerusalem Inter Church Centre, would promote such an agenda,” said Santis. These NGOs are funded by a variety of European governments, including the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland.
The World Council of Churches, a collective of 347 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries, is marking its fourth year of WWPPI, to be observed worldwide from September 21-27. WWPPI is organized by the WCC’s Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF).
For more information about the WCC and WWPPI, read NGO Monitor’s factsheet here.