Asking questions, bringing balance, confronting predjudice

Charities abuse Christmas to demonise Israel

war_on_want_uk_xmas2013delegit_100Cross-posted from The Commentator, with permission. This is a “must-read and share as widely as possible”. You could also write to the culprits below to complain about this sordid politicising of one of Christianity’s most important feasts! Robin Shepherd writes…

Christmas for me is the Season of Goodwill. I do not remember a single vicar on Christmas Day preaching hatred of Jews or anyone else. I regard the revelations in this devastating report as both anti-Semitic and anti-Christian too, and I’m insulted.

As someone brought up in the Church of England (see my personal message at the end of the piece) it is a matter of personal sadness to relate on Christmas Day the following report on how supposedly humanitarian charities and non-governmental organisations ruthlessly abuse Christmas to advance that most pernicious of all bigotries, hatred of the Jewish state of Israel.

The honourable and invaluable watchdog organisation NGO Monitor, has just released a report entitled “Tis the Season 2013: How Anti-Israel NGOs Manipulate Christmas.

It is always wise in such circumstances to let the experts who have done the research do most of the talking, so I will quote liberally from their overview, while adding some observations of my own.

The report’s summary begins as follows:

“As in previous years, NGOs (non-government organizations) and well-known charities are exploiting the 2013 Christmas season with political warfare against Israel.

“Groups such as Christian Aid (UK), Sabeel, War on Want (UK), Amos Trust, Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), and Adalah-NY [not affiliated with Aadalah in Israel] are again using theological themes to advance immoral anti-Israel campaigns, boycotts (BDS), and, in some cases, antisemitism.

“Kairos Palestine published a 50-page “Christmas 2013” pamphlet, with contributions from radical anti-Israel NGOs Badil, Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), St. Yves, Addameer, and Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCIPS).

“These organizations often use offensive and inflammatory rhetoric in Christmas carols, holiday messages and cards, nativity scenes, and other items. This year, verses and prayers that promote anti-Israel themes are prominent, polarizing Jewish-Christian relations and exacerbating an already complex and violent conflict.”

Plainly, this is all part of the global demonisation agenda against the Jewish state which having failed by traditional military means to destroy Israel now concentrates on using international institutions such as the United Nations and its related sub-groups, pseudo-academic institutions advocating boycotts and non-Jewish religious denominations using theological themes and landmark events (like Christmas) to turn Israel into a pariah state.

Context, such as Palestinian and broader Muslim-world rejectionism and terrorist violence, is routinely omitted as we have reported on The Commentator on numerous occasions.

Every attempt by Israel to defend itself from unprovoked aggression is almost always inverted to blame the victim, Israel, rather than the aggressor, the terrorists who always aim to maim or kill Israeli civilians — men, women, and children: the more the better, as the ecstatic celebrations in Palestinian towns and villages testify to whenever such atrocities are perpetrated.

It should be a cause of profound concern that Western taxpayers are footing the bill for the demonisation campaign this Christmas, and, of course, all the year round.

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

Quite so. And these are our governments. As citizens of democratic countries we can write to our elected representatives and ask them to explain themselves; and threaten not to vote for them if we do not get a satisfactory response.

It is the detail of the NGO Monitor report that is, perhaps, most disturbing of all. Thus:

“During the current holiday season, political advocacy organizations give prominence to religious themes and verses, recalling a long history of classical antisemitism.

  • The Kairos Palestine pamphlet exploits traditional Christian sources, using religious figures and biblical stories as part of politicized messages:
    • “Mary understands the right of return for refugees. Standing in the shadow of empire, Mary sees and still bears witness, sings to God the Savior…After 46 years of occupation and denial of all basic rights, can I continue joyfully witnessing and singing like Mary?”
    • “The Holy Family seeking to protect its Child stayed in Egypt for a period of time until they learned of Herod’s death and decided to go back to their home land. They chose to stay in a small village called Nazareth, where Jesus lived as a  young boy. The Holy Family taking refuge in Egypt away from danger and death brings back memories of Palestinian families who sought a similar refuge in nearby villages and countries like Egypt away from the cruelty and destruction of war in 1948.”
  • UK-based Amos Trust advertises an annual Bethlehem Pack, which contains the following theological references:
    • “If Jesus was born today in Bethlehem, the Wise Men would spend several hours queuing to enter the town.”
    • “The shepherds, despite being residents of Bethlehem, would struggle to graze their sheep because their land would be annexed by the building of the separation wall and a lack of freedom to travel and restrictions on trade would make it very difficult for them to make a living.”
    • The packet also includes a prayer, “Forgotten Gaza.” The prayer, with no context of terror or rockets launched from Gaza to Southern Israel, states: “Each Christmas we are reminded that there was no room for the Holy Family. This year, Lord, we remember forgotten Gaza. There is no room for them in our world. This Advent and Christmas nothing has improved, the people of Gaza are still forgotten, still imprisoned, still under a medieval type siege, with their water taken and resources destroyed. Lord we remember forgotten Gaza – once a beautiful, historic place, now its people denied human rights, with no proper facilities for the injured and disabled.”

The ludicrously dishonest “ethnic cleansing” of the Israeli Bedouin issue, dealt with expertly by Professor Michael Curtis here is also a predictable part of the mix.

If you give money to a very well known charity like Christian aid, here is a warning that I would take to mean you should put your wallet back in your pocket without delay:

“As in previous years, Christian Aid is using its Christmas materials for politicized statements about Israel. Christian Aid published an “Advent Journey” and “Advent Reflections.”

These publications promote the work of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), a Christian aid partner and a radical politicized organization that claimed that Israel’s self-defense measures in Gaza during November 2012, in the face of hundreds of rocket attacks, was nothing more than an “empty show of force” in the “cynical political arena.”

“In a separate Christmas appeal sent out to potential donors, Christian Aid also promotes the work of NGO Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC). While PARC operates a range of agricultural, economic and social projects in the West Bank and Gaza, primarily devoted to rural development, it is also involved in political advocacy campaigns, including support for BDS, utilizing demonizing rhetoric.”

Palestinian clergy, who should know better given the oppression they face from Muslim Palestinians, are at it too:

“In 2009, a group of thirteen Palestinian Christian clergy drafted the Kairos Palestine Document. It calls for BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] against Israel, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and blames Israel solely for the continuation of the conflict. Its purpose is to rally churches globally to support BDS, delegitimization, and demonization directed at the State of Israel.

“This year, Kairos Palestine published a 50-page “Christmas 2013” pamphlet, slated to be used as an educational hub for religious groups and gatherings. This pamphlet also serves as a primary vehicle for anti-Israel holiday messages for websites and churches, including the Presbyterian Mission Agency (USA).”

It even comes down to the Christmas cards that those of us of a Christian background send to our families and friends.

  • The UK Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is selling a Christmas card with Palestinian symbols, synthesized with classic Christmas imagery. Ireland’s Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has sold politicized Christmas cards for the past few years. One card displays the Madonna and Child, with the Madonna dressed in the Palestinian flag and star of Bethlehem in the background. The card reads, “This Christmas remember Palestine.”
  • War on Want, which receives British government funding, continues to promote its politicized Christmas cards depicting the security barrier paired with traditional Christmas images.
  • Canadian NGO Palestine House is circulating a Christmas card showing Santa attempting to enter Bethlehem but being blocked by the security barrier.

In closing, a short personal message. This morning, my parents went to a Christmas service in one of those characteristically sparsely decorated, stone-built Anglican churches in a small town in the county of Yorkshire where I was born and brought up.

I was baptised in that church. Members and friends of my family had their funeral services there. For others, it was the place of their marriage.

I asked my mother what the service was like. “Uplifting and joyous,” she said. At one point, as is habitual, people who didn’t know each other turned to those on the pews behind to shake hands, wish them a Merry Christmas and all the very best in this season of goodwill.

To abuse that most admirable of Christian traditions, and turn Christmas into a message of hate, is not just anti-Semitic; it is the grossest of insults to Christians as well.

Robin Shepherd is the owner of The Commentator and has worked in the think tank world for more than a decade following a career in international journalism. The Commentator is Britain’s fastest growing online, quality-end comment and news outlet. Please take a look around the site, and if you are minded to help us in our work, please get in touch

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Categorised in: Antisemitism, The BDS Campaign, The Delegitimisation of Israel

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