A Jerusalem Post headline on January 14, 2019 declared “World Council of Churches (WCC) use anti-Semitic rhetoric and advocate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)” against Israel. Research by NGO Monitor found that, “The WCC project – Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) has sent 1,800 Ecumenical Accompaniers from around the world to serve as observers in the West Bank and Jerusalem over the past 15 years, and aim to have 25 to 30 of these unofficial observers on the ground at all times. This is the only program of its kind run by the WCC.”
The stated goal of the EAPPI observers, according to the WCC, is to “offer protective presence and witness…monitoring and reporting human right abuses…standing with local peace and human rights groups…and advocacy (for Arab-Palestinians).” Naturally, this is a one-sided enterprise and pseudo “human rights” effort. It looks the other way on Arab-Palestinian terror, gross violations of human rights, hate propaganda, and anti-Semitism taught in Arab-Palestinian schools and mosques by the official Hamas and Palestinian Authority school systems.
According to the WCC website, the group represents 350 member churches in 110 countries, and half a billion Christians throughout the world. WCC member churches can be found in all regions of the world and include most of the Orthodox churches (Eastern and Oriental, i.e. Arab), as well as African Instituted, Anglican, Assyrian, Baptist, Evangelical, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian, Old Catholic, Pentecostal, Reform, United/Uniting and Free /Independent churches, Disciples of Christ, and Friends (Quakers). The Roman Catholic Church is not a part of the WCC.
Significantly, many of these U.S. churches belong to the National Council of Churches. These liberal, left-leaning churches (also known as mainline Protestant churches) have participated in BDS campaigns. Their policies are driven to a large extent by the missionaries of the churches in the Arab world, who upon returning from the Middle East, occupy key policy positions in their churches.
In its Executive Summary, NGO Monitor pointed out that, the World Council of Churches EAPPI program, “Despite marketing itself as a human rights and protection program, EAPPI places a significant emphasis on political advocacy before, during, and after the trip (its 1,800 volunteers take to the West Bank). When volunteers return to their home countries and churches, they engage in anti-Israel advocacy, such as BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions targeting Israel alone) campaigns, and comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany.”
Participants in the EAPPI program are selected by country-specific non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) known as “National Coordinators.” The National Coordinators are active in BDS and other de-legitimization campaigns against Israel. EAPPI contributes to a United Nations (UN) “Working Group” consisting of a number of UN agencies and NGO’s that collaborate on and coordinate politicized anti-Israel campaigns in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). In this capacity, EAPPI does a lot of administrative work, which is fed into the UN systems.
EAPPI, according to NGO Monitor, partners with a number of political NGO’s in the region, including groups that support BDS campaigns against Israel and/or accuse Israel of “war crimes.” The problem with the EAPPI program, as laid out by NGO Monitor, is that much of the EAPPI activities, and the direction it is receiving from its parent body - the WCC, amounts to efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Using Nathan Sharansky’s widely accepted (adopted by the U.S. State Department in 2010) definition of anti-Semitism, the 3-D’s test (Delegitimization, Demonization, and Double Standards used against Israel), which distinguishes legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism, the WCC efforts through the EAPPI add up to anti-Semitism.
In response to the NGO Monitor report, the WCC offered the following response: “The WCC was established in 1948. WCC is a fellowship of Christian churches around the world representing half a billion Christians, and is committed to the cause of Christian unity and, in that spirit, to ‘breaking down barriers between people, seeking justice and peace, and upholding the integrity of creation.’ As G-d stands by the oppressed and marginalized, the WCC seeks, with its member churches, to stand by such people, wherever they are or whatever their faith tradition might be.” Nothing in the above statement contradicts NGO Monitor’s assertion of WCC promoting anti-Semitism.
One must also remember that Arab Middle Eastern churches are part of the WCC. Arab clergy in these churches have been clearly and absolutely dhimmified, meaning that they have been intimidated into submission, and to serve regimes that seek to undermine the Jewish state and promote the Palestinian cause. Not that Arab regimes are particularly enamored with the Palestinians, but rather because their powerful and majority Islamist populations demand it. By joining the anti-Israel bandwagon, Christian leaders in the Arab world receive acceptance from their Muslim overlords. The WCC looks the other way when it comes to Palestinian racism and anti-Semitism, terrorism, and hate education. The WCC has made no efforts to bring Palestinians to the peace table, or expressed sympathy for about a million Jewish refugees from the Muslim world, uprooted from their homes after more than 2,000 years of living in states such as Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc.
The one-sided advocacy by the WCC-EAPPI is reflected in the following report by an Ecumenical Accompaniment (EA) representative: “If you live in East Jerusalem outside the wall, or in Ramallah for example, and you work in Jerusalem, you need to be at the checkpoint early if you want to get to work on time. Getting through the checkpoint can take anywhere between one and several hours.” If you did not know better, this statement alone would elicit sympathy for the “poor” Palestinians. Nowhere, however, do EA representatives mention the fact that the checkpoints are in place because of Palestinian terrorism. Whether it is individual knifers out to murder innocent Israeli civilians, children, or the elderly, it does not matter, as long as the target is a Jew. If it is not an Arab-Palestinian knife-wielding terrorist, it might be a car-ramming terrorist bent on killing as many Israeli Jews as possible. This is not a hypothetical point, it is a daily reality that Israel must defend itself by erecting a wall, and having checkpoints. Additionally, the biased EA (WCC) representatives do not mention the Palestinian Authority incitement to violence, and remittances to Palestinian murderers in Israeli prisons. One can only wonder what will happen to an Israeli-Jew who took a wrong turn and entered Ramallah. My guess is that they would not come out alive. That, however, doesn’t concern WCC representatives.
WCC Policy on Palestine and Israel 1948-2016 is a clear case of bias and ignorance. “Christian communities” are not “threatened by Israeli policies,” but rather by Palestinian intolerance of non-Muslims. In fact, in Israel alone, the Christian community has steadily grown and flourished. In the Palestinian territories, and the Arab and Muslim world, Christians have suffered persecution and death. There is no such thing as Occupied Palestinian Territories. There was never a state of Palestine, only territories occupied by Jordan in 1948, and Palestinian rejection of the UN Partition Plan, which would have given them a state. Palestinians chose to destroy the nascent Jewish state rather than exercise their self-determination. They considered themselves Arabs, while the Jews were labeled Palestinians in 1948. Finally, the WCC policy which advocates Palestinian refugees “right of return,” is a code-word for the destruction of the Jewish state. It reaffirms the prejudice, and anti-Semitic stance of the WCC.