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Middle East Issues





Five Things You Need to Know About World Council of Churches


Between Sept. 18-24, 2016, activists and staffers associated with the World Council of Churches, an umbrella organization of 350 Protestant and Orthodox churches headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, will be participating in a “World Week for Peace in Palestine-Israel.”

It's an annual event promoted on the internet and in WCC member churches throughout the world every September.

The WCC promotes a distorted view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In this narrative, Israelis are responsible for the continued existence of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the suffering it causes. The misdeeds of the Palestinians, are generally not worth mentioning. (For a brief discussion of the propaganda that is being broadcast by the WCC this year, please see this CAMERA-produced article published in The Algemeiner earlier this week.)

The WCC has been a regular antagonist in the propaganda war against the Jewish State. Here are five things you need to know about the WCC to understand its role in promoting anti-Zionism in Christian churches throughout the world.
 
1. WCC staffers and peace activists roar like lions at Israel, but behave in a submissive manner when dealing with Muslim leaders and jihadist movements.

As the articles linked below demonstrate, the World Council of Churches has repeatedly and regularly condemned Israeli actions, while remaining relatively silent about the misdeeds of Arabs and Muslim leaders and political movements in the Middle East.

This is particularly evident in the WCC's failure to respond to the PLO's massacre of Christians during the Lebanese civil war. Under the leadership of Yassir Arafat, the PLO killed thousands of Christians at Damour in 1976.

This did not stop the WCC from issuing a laudatory eulogy for Arafat when he died in 2004. It read in part, “On his long road as a leader, Yasser Arafat came to the recognition that true justice embraces peace, security and hope for both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Interestingly enough, the WCC has condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the one country in the Middle East where the indigenous population of Christians is growing, for his refusal to release terrorists from Israeli jails.
 
2. The WCC has two bureaucracies – the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine Israel (EAPPI) which are dedicated to condemning Israel. There is, however, no similar WCC bureaucracy that advocates for Christians suffering in Muslim-majority countries.
 
Founded by the WCC in 2007, the PIEF is a group of Christian leaders and theologians that produces and broadcasts statements that condemn Israel without holding Palestinian leaders to account for their misdeeds.
 
Established by the WCC during the Second Intifada, the EAPPI sends in activists mostly from Europe and North America to stand in solidarity with Palestinians during confrontations with Israeli soldiers and Israeli civilians living in communities in the West Bank. They also specialize in gathering images and stories of Israelis behaving badly and broadcasting these images and stories to Christians in their home communities.

At one point, the EAPPI published an editorial in its now defunct magazine (ChainReaction) calling for a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict (which would have meant the elimination of the Jewish state) and another article that called on supporters to break the law by hacking government websites. (This article has since been removed from the Internet.)

When it comes to addressing Muslim violence against Christians, the WCC does issue statements of condemnation, but typically these statements are much softer than the criticism WCC institutions direct at Israel. As an ecumenical body, the WCC has gone out of its way not to offend the sensibilities of Muslim leaders with whom it dialogues.

For more background, Jerusalem scholar Malcolm Lowe has written about the failure of the WCC to speak up for Christians suffering the lash of Muslim violence in the Gatestone Institute.
 
3. While the World Council of Churches regularly condemns Israel and its leaders, it has been very reluctant to speak about the atrocities committed by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

In 2015, the World Council of Churches issued a statement calling on unnamed outside actors to refrain from participating in the Syrian civil war, but for the most part, the WCC has remained silent about atrocities committed by actors in this conflict.

For example, in 2013, the WCC issued a statement expressing concern about the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, but this statement does not say who actually used these weapons. Interestingly enough, a search for “Assad” on the WCC website provides no hits mentioning the crimes of Bashar Al Assad against the people of Syria. He stands accused of using chlorine gas against civilians in Syria. A search for the word “chlorine” on the WCC's website reveals no hits on this subject either.
 
4. WCC deliberative bodies refrained from condemning the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan during the 1980s.
 
While Christians from the Middle East have convinced the WCC to condemn Israel incessantly, the Russian Orthodox Church was able to prevent the WCC from condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Delegates from the Russian Orthodox Church told delegates to the WCC's 1982 General Assembly that if the organization condemned the invasion they would no longer be able to participate as members of the ecumenical body. For information about this story, please go here.
 
5. The World Council of Churches was a major player and defender of the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance that took place in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 and which turned into an antisemitic hate fest. In particular, it successfully moved to delete a condemnation of antisemitism and efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state from a resolution before the conference.

The UN conference in Durban was a watershed event that demonstrated that the international human rights community had been hijacked by a very ugly and hostile group of activists who were more interested in promoting hatred of Israel than promoting human welfare. Instead of standing up to this agenda, the WCC assisted it. In a press release, the WCC's delegation to the conference stated that it “celebrates that such a forum was held, because it falls within the WCC's long-cherished tradition of giving space, and supporting victims [of racism] to speak publicly.” The delegation also reported that it “was greatly helped by the sensitive explanations and support of its Palestinian members.”

Interestingly enough, the Durban conference said next to nothing about the violation of human rights in Muslim-majority countries. Predictably, the affirmed this distorted agenda before the conference started. In a background paper submitted to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on August 15, 2001, the WCC exhibited an exclusive focus on the impact of white colonialism on Third World peoples without acknowledging the impact Arab imperialism and expansionist Islam have had on minorities throughout the world. (For more information, please go here.)

But here's the kicker. The WCC also moved for the deletion of a reference to antisemitism and efforts to delegitmiize the Jewish state from a resolution set to be approved by the conference. For more information, please go here.

Background

Here is a list of articles that document the WCC's troubling hostility toward the Jewish state.

The World Council of Churches' Ongoing Anti-Israel Obsession, The Algemeiner, Sept. 14, 2016.

Dignity… Or Dhimmitude? The Algemeiner, Sept. 14, 2014.

World Council of Churches attacks Israel to no gain, The Commentator, June 3, 2013.

The World Council of Churches Anti-Israel Policies, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 29, 2011.

The World Council of Churches Broadcasts a Lethal Narrative, CAMERA, Oct. 11, 2011.

The World Council of Churches Made Durban Worse, CAMERA, Sept. 13, 2011.

Broadcasting a Lethal Narrative: The World Council of Churches and Israel, Jewish Political Studies Review, Aug. 1, 2011.


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