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December 27, 2013 3:12 pm

London Church Accused of Anti-Israel Bias Over Christmas Festival

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The "Bethlehem Unwrapped" festival at St. James's Church in Piccadilly. Photo: Screenshot. A prominent London church is drawing accusations of bias and protests over its Christmas-themed festival that criticizes Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.

Called “Bethlehem Unwrapped,” the Dec. 23-Jan. 3 festival at St. James’s Church on Piccadilly is held to celebrate “the people of Bethlehem today and drawing attention to the Barrier that affects every aspect of daily life,” according to the church’s website.

For the festival, the church erected a 26-foot replica of a walled section of the Israeli security fence outside of Bethlehem and included several pro-Palestinian activists and speakers on its schedule.

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“You should ask yourself: Is this act that we are promoting fair, honest? Does it represent the truth of the situation? Be in no doubt that Israel built a security barrier only after enduring a wave of horrific terrorism that left thousands dead and maimed for life,” Michael Dickson, Israel director of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, wrote in an open letter to the church.

U.K.-based pro-Israel groups including We Believe in Israel, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland are organizing daily protests at the church.

A recent report by the watchdog group NGO Monitor accused several non-governmental groups and Christian charities of using the Christmas season to wage “political warfare” against Israel. These groups are “using theological themes to advance immoral anti-Israel campaigns, boycotts (BDS), and, in some cases, anti-Semitism,” NGO Monitor said in its report.

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