NGOs Use Christian Anti-Semitism to Urge BDS

NGO Monitor annual report shows how the 'holiday spirit' has NGOs worldwide pushing religious demonization of Israel.

Ari Yashar,

Christian Arab boy in Nazareth (file)
Christian Arab boy in Nazareth (file)
Flash 90

The "Christmas spirit" seems to be in the air among all the anti-Israel NGOs - and a new annual report by NGO Monitor released Tuesday reveals how that has found expression in a whole array of religiously motivated slanders of the Jewish state with a distinct undertone of anti-Semitism.

In the report, NGO Monitor analyzed Christmas cards, nativity scenes, and holiday messages released by well-known NGOs, charities and church groups. What it found was groups such as Pax Christi, Sabeel, and a slew of others used religious motifs to attack Israel and advance BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns.

"The recurring exploitation of religious holidays and theological language to advance discriminatory anti-Israel campaigns shows that nothing is holy for the BDS movement," said Naftali Balanson, managing editor of NGO Monitor. "The church groups that support these NGOs, as well as the governments that fund them, must immediately repudiate the disturbing antisemitism emanating from NGOs that purport to promote human rights." 

In some examples, NGOs compared the modern Jewish state of Israel to the Roman Empire of the 1st century CE, which occupied Israel and instituted a crackdown on Judaism, leveling the absurd claim that Israel was doing likewise to Palestinian Arabs.

The NGOs also referred to the "tribal god" of Judaism, in an attack on the religion.

In Kairos Palestine's annual "Christmas Alert" booklet, which featured contributions by radical anti-Israel NGOs Badil,  St. Yves and Defense for Children International - Palestine Section (DCI-PS), readers are urged with "testimonies" and "prayers" to "demand their right of return" for the descendants of Arab residents who left Israel in the 1948 War of Independence.

It likewise called for the "reunification" of Palestinian Arab families and lobbied for the release of Arab terrorists imprisoned in Israel.

Interestingly Kairos, as well as Sabeel, Jerusalem Inter Church Center, Wi'am and St. Yves, are listed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as "Spokespeople for Christmas in Bethlehem."

Sabeel, in its 2014 Christmas message written by Naim Ateek, made a shocking comparison between the Roman persecution of Israel 2,000 years ago with modern Israel.

"From a Palestinian world view, there are certain similarities between the political conditions in Palestine during the times of Jesus’ birth and the political situation in Palestine today," read the message. "There is a flagrant occupation that dominates and oppresses people; and there are words that describe what people go through: fear, insecurity, instability, suffering, grief, despair, and other negative feelings that a repressive empire and an Israeli rightwing government can produce."

More insidious in the entire issue of religious demonization of Israel is the strong financial support of the NGOs by European and other governments.

Pax Christi is funded by Belgium (via Broederlijk Delen), UK (via CAFOD), France (via CCFD), US (via CRS), and Germany (via ZIVIK); meanwhile Sabeel is backed by Sweden (via Diakonia) and the Netherlands (via ICCO and Kerk in Actie).

Wi'am for its part is funded by the US (via the Middle East Partner Initiative), Sweden, and The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).

NGO Monitor notes that as funders, "these governments are enablers and share the moral responsibility for the actions of the NGOs."




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