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December 23, 2014 11:22 am

Watchdog Highlights Manipulation of Christmas as a Weapon Against Israel

avatar by Ben Cohen

Bishop Theodosios Hanna of the Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate reading the anti-Israel Kairos Declaration with Irish Bishop Noel Treanor. Photo: Twitter

A new report from Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor has exposed disturbing levels of anti-Israel hatred in the Christmas messages and appeals promoted by radical Christian groups dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Come All Ye Haters: NGO Exploitation of Religious Themes to Demonize Israel” reveals that “at the height of the holiday season, NGOs, well-known charities, and church groups once again are exploiting Christmas to conduct political warfare against Israel.”

According to NGO Monitor – which tracks both the statements and activities of NGOs working in the area as well as their funding by foreign governments and charities – “In some instances, the rhetoric used reflects antisemitic theology and sentiments such as comparing Israel to First Century Romans, portraying Israel as inherently oppressive, and referring to the ‘tribal god’ of Judaism.”

Among the several examples cited in the report is the annual “Christmas Alert” booklet produced by Kairos Palestine, an organization rooted in the 2009 Kairos Declaration on Palestine, a document authored by the Palestinian Christian activist Naim Ateek and other church figures, which denies the historic connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel while asserting that, in contrast, “Christian and Muslim Palestinians” are “deeply rooted in the history and geography of this land.”

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In its 2014 booklet, Kairos quotes Father Jamal Khader of the Latin Patriarch Seminary in Beit Jala describing the “Israeli occupation” as the “greatest evil” – the abuse of Christians elsewhere in the Middle East, including the genocidal campaign waged against them by Islamic State terrorists in Iraq, is not even acknowledged.

Meanwhile, another article in the booklet presents Israel as an inherently illegitimate state, claiming that “since 1948 (the year of Israel’s creation,) Israel developed a regime that combines occupation, apartheid and colonization which acts as the root cause of the ongoing forced population transfer of the Palestinian people.”

“During the current holiday season, NGOs exploit religious sources and biblical verses as part of their political warfare against Israel,” the NGO Monitor report observed. “The traditional Christian themes are introduced into a simplistic, one-sided narrative of the conflict that omits terrorism, Hamas control of Gaza, and Israel’s basic security needs to protect its civilian population.”

Wi’am, described by NGO Monitor as “a ‘grassroots organization’ that is involved in BDS,” declared in its Christmas message that “Christ was born in Bethlehem under the Roman Occupation. This story is not strange for us…The new Herods are instilling fear in whole communities, using religion to depict a god of vengeance, a tribal god of retaliation.”

This same theme was echoed in a Christmas message distributed by Rev. Kate Taber, the representative in the “Holy Land” of the Presbyterian Church USA. “As we celebrate the birth of the Christ child this season, it is impossible for me not to imagine what his life would have been like, or Mary’s as his mother, had he been born in Bethlehem today,” Taber wrote.

Much of the funding for these and similar organizations comes from European and American church groups who are in turn recipients of taxpayer funds. “As funders, these governments are enablers and share the moral responsibility for the actions of the NGOs,” NGO Monitor concluded.

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