World Council of Churches Assists in Propaganda War Against Israel

Predictably enough, the World Council of Churches has, yet again, joined the propaganda war against Israel.

The WCC, an umbrella organization of 350 Protestant and Orthodox Churches with a long history of demonizing the Jewish state, did this soon after rockets fired by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rained down on Israel, forcing millions of people to hide in bunkers, safe rooms, and apartment stairwells throughout the country.

Some of the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew in 2005, fell short of their Jewish targets in Israel and killed Palestinian children that Hamas declares it is “liberating.” Despite all this, the WCC’s ire is directed at Israel and not at its attackers.

It’s a disgrace. An awful disgrace.

While the WCC has backed away from its ongoing support for BDS, the organization and its “peacemaking” activists have yet to abandon their ideological template of the Palestinians as innocent victims and Israel as the convenient villain.

Years of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement on the part of Arab and Muslim extremists in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (and elsewhere in the Middle East) are simply ignored by the WCC’s staffers in the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Incitement doesn’t rate as a factor in the WCC’s understanding of the conflict.

While the WCC continues to bang on the Jewish state, it remains largely silent about acts of intimidation and violence directed at Jews at anti-Israel rallies throughout the world.

Whatever hope there was that the WCC would change its approach to conflict in the Holy Land under the leadership of recently appointed Interim General Secretary Ioan Sauca has come to naught. (WCC Photo.)

Promoting Extremists

Whatever hope there was that the WCC would change its approach to conflict in the Holy Land under the leadership of recently appointed Interim General Secretary Ioan Sauca came to an end on Monday, May 17, 2021, when the organization published a one-sided “news” story about a group of Christians engaging in a solidarity visit with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah, the scene of a lawsuit between Israeli Jewish landowners and Arab tenants.

The article alleges that Palestinians are being evicted from their homes by Israeli “settler organizations,” suggesting that the land is being overtaken by Jewish interlopers in the Holy Land. 

What the article omits is that the land in question was purchased by Jewish groups in the 1800s, taken from them during the 1948 war, and then returned to these groups in the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967. The article also fails to report that the Arab tenants who lived on the property had acknowledged Jewish ownership of the land in the 1980s and had stopped paying rent to the owners in the years since, prompting efforts to evict them.

The one-sided and deceptive narrative retailed by the WCC in this “news” piece comes as no surprise given the people involved with the solidarity visit.

Atallah Hanna

One of the prominent speakers at the visit was Archbishop Atallah Hanna, head of the Sebastia Diocese of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. In December 2019, Hanna falsely accused Israel of poisoning him, an allegation that the WCC irresponsibly repeated in a press release issued in January 2020. In this press release, the WCC described Hanna as a “strong critic” of Israel.

As it turns out, Hanna went to the hospital after suffering from the aftereffects of a pest control treatment in his residence. The International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) expressed outrage over the WCC’s decision to highlight Hanna’s accusations. IJCIC accurately declared:

Archbishop Hanna is not merely “a strong critic” of Israel, as the WCC stated. He has called for the creation of a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.” The archbishop has declared that “Zionism is a racist, terrorist movement,” and referred to the Israeli government as “money changers in the Temple.” An individual like Hanna who espouses these views should not automatically be believed when he makes accusations against Israel without evidence.

Why is it that the WCC is promoting the “activism” of a noted hater of Israel, who falsely accused the Jewish state of poisoning him? 

Yusef Daher – JICC — EAPPI

But that’s not all. In its one-sided and deceptive “news” brief, the WCC also highlighted the work of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center (JICC) and its leader, Palestinian extremist Yusef Daher. The report stated that the families in Sheikh Jarrah “shared their story with the group of Christian clergy, organizational leaders, lay people, and representatives from the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center in Jerusalem and WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.”

Daher is not mentioned by name, but he is featured prominently in the photo accompanying the WCC’s article on the solidarity visit. Daher, who serves as Executive Secretary of the JICC, is a well-known Israel-hater who has valorized Palestinian acts of violence against Israelis.

Simply put, Daher is no peacemaker, having praised a well-known Christian terrorist, George Habash, a now-deceased member of the Popular Front for the Liberation for Palestine, and is well known for posting hateful images and articles on his Facebook account.

As stated in a previous CAMERA article about his polemics, “Daher traffics in some ugly propaganda that will only embolden Palestinian violence and cause distrust on the part of Israelis.”

In one article, Daher wrote, “The two states solution is the manifestation of the crucifixion as it was first physically drawn in the Partition plan and then in the Peace process All just denied Justice again and again.”

Declaring the Partition Plan, the two-state solution, and the peace process to be the manifestation of the crucifixion is not peacemaking, but ugly propagandizing designed to promote hatred of the Jewish state. Along these lines, Daher has also written that Jesus’s “critique of the Pharisees precisely reminds us that the Torah does not center on love and genuine justice.”

Daher’s assertion that the Torah “does not center on love and genuine justice” is the type of anti-Jewish polemics that Christians have been writing for centuries. That it is coming from the leader of a Christian ecumenical institution headquartered in Jerusalem, no less, is simply shocking.

Why is the WCC supporting Daher’s work and assisting in his efforts to promote the Sheikh Jarrah Libel?

And why is the WCC fronting for Archbishop Atallah Hanna, a well-known Israel hater, by portraying him as a legitimate human rights activist?

As stated above, the WCC’s response to conflict in the Holy Land is a disgrace.

An awful disgrace.