Friday, January 13, 2012

The World Council of Churches and Israel-No friend of Israel

The author dedicates this essay to the memory of Rev. Dr. Landon Tracy Archer Summers.

Dexter Van Zile

The World Council of Churches, an umbrella organization for 349 Protestant and Orthodox churches founded in 1948, has expressed concern for the safety and wellbeing of the Jewish people but has largely been hostile to their state, particularly during times of conflict. At these times, WCC institutions demonize Israel, use a double standard to assess its actions, and in some instances delegitimize the Jewish state. They have also persistently denied the intent of Israel’s adversaries to deprive the Jewish people of their right to a sovereign state.

· While the WCC’s pronouncements are portrayed as the result of studied and prayerful consideration, politics plays a central and decisive role in determining whom the WCC will criticize and whom it refrains from criticizing. While the Middle East Council of Churches has prevailed upon the WCC to condemn Israel, the Russian Orthodox Church was able to prevent the WCC from condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

· Like mainline churches in the United States, the WCC’s anti-Israeli campaign escalated significantly after the start of the Second Intifada. This escalation was particularly evident in the WCC’s Central Committee, which, in addition to endorsing divestment, established two bodies – the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) – that both have the singular purpose of ending Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

· The WCC has devoted a substantial amount of resources to broadcasting its one-sided narrative about the Arab-Israeli conflict, but has failed to create an effective response to an ongoing campaign of terror against Christians in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The WCC regularly dialogues with Muslims, but fails to address the issue of anti-Jewish and anti-Christian rhetoric in Islamic teachings head-on. Consequently, Muslim extremists can engage in a slow, grinding campaign to eliminate Christianity from the Middle East without challenge from the World Council of Churches.


Founded in 1948, the World Council of Churches is one of the more vocal and prominent nongovernmental organizations operating in the international arena. Serving as the umbrella organization for 349 Protestant and Orthodox churches in 110 countries, the WCC works to promote Christian unity with the ultimate goal of creating “one eucharistic fellowship” among all Christians. In addition to promoting unity among churches, the WCC seeks to generate a common Christian witness to the problems facing humanity.[1] Over the course of its history, it has promoted the causes of nuclear disarmament,[2] concern for religious freedom,[3] women’s rights,[4] and more recently, concern for the environment, with a particular emphasis on climate change.[5] The organization also issues pronouncements about various conflicts taking place in the world with an eye toward bringing these to an end.[6]

These pronouncements come from a number of different sources including the organization’s Assembly, which meets every seven years,[7] its Central Committee, which meets every twelve to eighteen months,[8] and its Executive Committee, which meets twice a year.[9] When speaking on issues related to war and peace, the WCC bodies typically rely on reports produced by WCC staffers working in Geneva and on other institutions within the WCC, most notably the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA).

Additionally, the WCC and the institutions it supports produce other statements and publications related to Christian theology, interfaith relations, and international relations that seek to give its member churches a framework for understanding the issues facing humanity. Individuals working for the WCC also use their position to affect world opinion. For example, the WCC’s general secretary and the director of the CCIA speak, from time to time, on the issues of the day.

WCC pronouncements are often distributed by the organization’s member churches, which present WCC statements as if they are the result of prayerful and studied deliberation by the staffers who uttered them and the delegates who approved them, and of objective research by the staffers who briefed them.[10] The WCC imprimatur for a particular cause or agenda provides an aura of credibility rooted in knowledge, deliberations, and good intentions.

The WCC and Israel

Haim Genizi, professor emeritus of history at Bar-Ilan University,[11] offered a sympathetic assessment of the WCC in a recent issue of Studies in Contemporary Jewry.[12] Genizi describes the WCC as having “supported the Jewish people and their right to a state of their own.”[13]

This support, Genizi concedes, is undermined somewhat by a “deep-seated theological ambivalence on the part of some member churches with regard to Judaism and the Jews.” Genizi reports that this ambivalence has caused the organization to exhibit “an equivocal attitude toward Israel.”[14] Moreover, the WCC’s “sympathy for Third World liberation movements, combined with the constant pressure of Middle Eastern churches dominated by Arab church leaders, together influence the WCC to take a sympathetic approach toward the Palestinians.”[15] The result is a fair number of statements that are highly critical of Israel, which Genizi recounts in some detail. Yet, despite the WCC’s critical attitude toward Israel, Genizi concludes that

… one should bear in mind that the WCC has always recognized the legitimacy of the state of Israel and its right to live with secure borders; condemned anti-Semitism and the equation of Zionism with racism; and initiated successful dialogue with Jewish leaders.[16]

Genizi’s benign assessment fails to take into account the WCC’s obsession with Israel’s alleged misdeeds, which plays itself out on the organization’s website. A brief perusal of the site[17] will yield a large volume of statements and articles regarding Israel, the vast majority of which portray it in a harsh light while giving its adversaries a pass. Further examination will reveal that the behavior of the Jewish state is so offensive to the WCC that it has established not one, but two bureaucracies singularly devoted to assailing Israeli policies. The first of these is the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), founded in 2001. Like the Mennonite-founded and supported Christian Peacemaker Teams, the EAPPI sends activists into the West Bank to confront and draw attention to Israeli soldiers and settlers, without drawing attention to or confronting Palestinian terrorism.

The second of these bureaucracies is the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) founded in 2007, which has helped publicize a number of one-sided statements about the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as the Kairos Palestine Document, a statement released by Palestinian Christians in 2009 that was denounced by the Central Conference of American Rabbis as supersessionist and anti-Semitic.[18]

The websites of both of the EAPPI and the PIEF are chock full of anti-Israeli polemics that fail to hold Israel’s adversaries accountable for their misdeeds. They serve as a ready-made archive of all of Israel’s alleged misdeeds.

There is another reality that Genizi missed:the WCC’s prophetic witness is corrupted by the interests of its member churches, which either seek to protect the regimes under which they live from criticism or demonize the enemies of such regimes. This corruption, which was evident during the Cold War, has been particularly notable in the WCC’s depiction of events in the Middle East. Israel is a safe and easy target for the WCC to lambaste. Authoritarian regimes get much lighter treatment because open criticism of these would jeopardize Christians who live under them.

A cursory examination of the WCC’s historical record indicates that the organization has not merely espoused an “equivocal” attitude toward Israel and a sympathetic attitude toward Palestinians. During times of conflict, WCC governing bodies, staffers, and activists have, to varying degrees, promoted a patently hostile attitude toward Israel and a permissive and appeasing attitude toward its enemies.

Indeed, when looked at in total and in context, the WCC’s “witness” of the Arab-Israeli conflict passes the “3D Test” enunciated by Natan Sharanksy in his 2004 essay about the new anti-Semitism.[19] To be precise, the WCC’s governing bodies, staffers, and activists have over the course of its history engaged in anti-Semitic discourse by demonizing Israel, applying a double standard to its actions, and in some instances delegitimizing the very notion of a Jewish state. In light of the WCC’s witness about the Middle East, it is necessary to consider adding yet another “D” to Sharansky’s test of anti-Semitism – downplaying or denying hostility toward the Jews and their state. The WCC has denounced anti-Semitism in the abstract but has offered little if any criticism of Muslim anti-Semitism, which has had such a lethal impact on life in the Middle East.

Historically, not every part of the WCC has assailed Israel to the same extent.[20] WCC voting bodies such as its Assembly and Central Committee have used one standard to assess Israel’s actions and another to assess the actions of its adversaries, but do so in diplomatic and circumspect language. Individual bureaucrats and WCC activists, however, are much more likely to make use of demonizing and delegitimizing rhetoric toward Israel.

In sum, the WCC institutions have broadcast a lethal narrative[21] that justifies continued violence against Israel and its citizens. Through a combination of default and design, the WCC behaves as an ideological adversary of the Jewish state and an ally of its adversaries in both the Middle East and the West. It also provides religious and intellectual cover for others to do the same.

The WCC’s Founding and the Jewish People

The Provisional Committee of the World Council of Churches, which did the preparatory work leading up to the WCC’s founding assembly in Amsterdam in 1948, struggled with issues related to the Jewish people.[22] At its meeting in Geneva in 1946, the Provisional Committee passed two resolutions concerning the Holocaust. The first, written in response to the ouster of Christians of Jewish descent from German churches in the 1930s,[23] affirmed that “all Christians who have Jewish antecedents” should be “assured of a full share of the rights and duties pertaining to the fellowship and service of the Church.” The statement added that “Christians of Hebrew ancestry should be assured that the church will always be a refuge for them and that her ministries of both material and spiritual relief will be exercised on their behalf.”[24]

The second resolution concerned the church’s relationship with Jews in General. It expressed the Provisional Committee’s “deep sense of horror at the unprecedented tragedy which has befallen the Jewish people” as a result “of the Nazi attempt to exterminate European Jewry.” The resolution also expressed its sympathy for the Jews who had survived the Holocaust, thanked those Christians who had given them shelter, and acknowledged that the church had failed “to overcome in the spirit of Christ those factors” that contributed to anti-Semitism. The resolution called on Christians to combat anti-Semitism by testifying that it violates “the spirit and teaching of Jesus Christ,” and by, among other things, supporting “efforts to find acceptable homes to [sic] Jews” who were displaced by the Holocaust.[25]

Sympathy but Not Sovereignty

These expressions of remorse over the Holocaust and sympathy for the Jewish people did not translate into support for Jewish sovereignty when the WCC had its First Assembly in 1948, however. This gathering denounced anti-Semitism and admitted that the church had “helped to foster an image of the Jews as the sole enemies of Christ, which has contributed to anti-Semitism in the secular world.”[26] But when it came to Jewish sovereignty, the First Assembly balked, declaring:

The establishment of the state “Israel” adds a political dimension to the Christian approach to the Jews and threatens to complicate anti-semitism with political fears and enmities.

On the political aspects of the Palestine problem and the complex conflict of “rights” involved we do not undertake to express a judgment.[27]

In response to the first sentence, Paul Merkley aptly noted that if it “means anything at all, it must be that Israel has only itself to blame if more ‘anti-Semitism’ should now appear in the world.”[28] The second sentence indicates that the destruction of European Jewry coupled with the threats by Arab leaders to finish the job in the Middle East was not enough to convince the WCC and its member churches that the Jewish people were entitled to a state of their own. The organization was willing to express sympathy for the Jews after the Holocaust, but was reluctant to acknowledge their right to self-determination.

The text of this resolution clearly undermines Genizi’s assertion that the WCC has historically “supported the Jewish people and their right to a state of their own.” In 1948, when the cause of Jewish sovereignty was in most need of support, the WCC voted “present” and even blamed the state for future expressions of anti-Semitism. This indicates a circumspect but undeniable attempt to delegitimize the notion of Jewish sovereignty.

Similar ambivalence was evident at the WCC’s Second Assembly. Held in 1954 in Evanston, Illinois, its theme was “Jesus Christ, Hope of the World.” Isaac Rottenberg reported that at this assembly

[a] group of prominent theologians concluded that this would be an appropriate occasion to say something about Israel as a sign of God’s faithfulness in history and, therefore, in some sense, a source of hope. Their proposal was voted down after the Assembly had received a telegram from the Christian statesman Charles Malik in Lebanon, urging the delegates to say and do nothing that might give offense to Arab Christians.[29]

To its credit, the WCC’s Central Committee was able to acknowledge Israeli fears in a statement issued a few months after the Six Day War, but even this failed to properly frame the issue. Meeting in Greece, the Central Committee adopted a statement that said in part:

The present crisis has developed in part because the rest of the world has been insensitive to the fears of people in the Middle East; the fears of the people of the Arab nations because of the dynamism and possible expansion of Israel, and the fears of the people of Israel who have escaped from persecution on other continents only to be threatened, at least by word, with expulsion from their new home.[30]

To begin with, Israeli Jews had not merely “escaped from persecution on other continents” but were victims of a ruthless genocide. “Persecution” simply does not do justice to this reality.

Second, the statement falsely suggests that there was an equivalence between Arab and Israeli fears before the Six Day War. The notion that the Six Day War was rooted in Arab fears over Israel’s “possible expansion” ignores Arab leaders’ numerous calls for Israel’s destruction in the years and months leading to the war. Their statements do not reveal concern over Israel’s intentions but, rather, outrage over its existence. The war did not erupt because of Arab fears but because of Arab desires to destroy Israel, which, under any moral rubric, are unjust.

Moreover, in its misplaced affirmation of Arab fears over the “possible expansion of Israel,” the Central Committee ignored an important fact of Israeli politics: in the years before the Six Day War, Israeli leaders regarded the 1949 armistice lines as sacrosanct and had no designs on territory beyond them.

Gershom Gorenberg points out that before the Six Day War, conquest was not “on the Israeli military agenda” and that a five-year development plan produced sometime in 1967 “presumed that Israel could ‘realize fully its national goals’ within the armistice lines.”[31] Gorenberg also notes that in the years before the Six Day War, “irredentism – claims to territory beyond the borders – receded from political debate” in Israel.[32] At the forefront of this trend was the ruling Mapai Party, but “even the militant Herut party of Menachem Begin, with its roots in the radical nationalism of the European right between the world wars, softened its irredentist claims in return for respectability.”[33] Gorenberg observes further that “the shift went beyond political platforms.” He continues:

A growing number of Israelis had grown up or arrived in the country after independence. In the Hebrew literature created by young writers of that time, notes Israeli historian Anita Shapira, there was “no hankering for some ancient historical agenda with Biblical sites and vistas….”[34]

The following year, the WCC Assembly issued a bland statement that said the “menace of the situation in the Middle East shows no sign of abating.” It continued:

The resolutions of the United Nations have not been implemented, the territorial integrity of the nations involved is not respected, occupation continues, no settlement is in sight and a new armament race is being mounted.[35]

In 1946, the WCC Provisional Committee insisted that Jews who had converted to Christianity were entitled to the same rights as any other member of the Christian church. Twenty-two years later, however, the same body could not affirm in any meaningful way that the Jewish state, a member nation of the United Nations, had a right to be free of threats to destroy it.

Correspondence with the PLO

The WCC’s unwillingness to respond to attacks on Israel’s legitimacy is also evident in the organization’s correspondence with the Central Committee of the PLO during the early 1970s. In letters sent in response to terror attacks perpetrated by PLO constituent organizations, WCC officials wrote in a patronizing tone, telling PLO leaders that kidnappings, hijackings, and murders harmed the PLO’s chances of achieving self-determination for the Palestinian people – as if PLO leaders were too stupid to know the consequences of their actions and could not assess for themselves whether or not they achieved the goals they wanted.

This patronizing tone was particularly evident in a letter sent by WCC general secretary Eugene Carson Blake in September 1970 after a spate of hijackings by the PLO.[36] After lamenting how “the world community has not yet been able to satisfy your demands for justice and self-determination” and expressing sympathy for the PLO’s “desire to focus world attention” on the plight of the Palestinians, Blake reported that the WCC must nevertheless “strongly condemn reckless acts of anarchy which disregard the basic human rights for which you are striving.” Blake continued that it was in the PLO’s “best interest to refrain from further indiscriminate bombings, attacks and hijackings which increasingly threaten innocent civilians.” Here Blake attributes benign motives to the PLO, portraying the organization as if it was striving for “human rights” when, in fact, its charter expressed an obvious intent to deprive the Jewish people of their right to self-determination.

A similar obtuseness was also evident in the letter sent to the PLO Central Committee from CCIA director Leopoldo J. Niilus on 2 June 1972. It was in response to the Lod Airport massacre perpetrated by the Japanese Red Army on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Referring to an attack that left twenty-six people dead and scores injured, Niilus said the massacre was in “sharp contrast to the hijacking operation of September 1970” because it “deliberately involved a large and indiscriminate slaughter, many of the victims of which had no connection whatever with the Middle East.” Consequently, the attack “cannot but be strongly condemned by all humane men.”

In less than two years, the hijackings went, in WCC correspondence, from being “reckless acts of anarchy which disregard human rights” to something not so bad because at least nobody got killed as they did in subsequent attacks.

Niilus also stated “actions such as these do the greatest possible disservice to the cause of the Palestinians which your Committee seeks to serve.”

The WCC’s tendency to treat PLO leaders as errant children is also evident in another letter, this one sent on 6 September 1972 in response to the massacre of eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich by the PLO’s Black September faction. In this letter, Blake stated that the “repetition of indiscriminate acts such as those at the Lydda [Lod] Airport and the senseless terrorism most certainly does injustice to the cause of the Palestinians and may nullify all of the more positive steps which have been taken by you and others on their behalf.” If Blake were to have written with a bit more candor, he might have said: “After all we’ve done for you, you do this?”

Blake then remarked:

I understand that your London representative has unofficially disassociated the PLO from these most recent acts. I sincerely hope that you will do so officially and that you will take all measures available to you to restrain the members of the “Black September” group and any others who may be involved in these activities to desist from them immediately.

Instead of calling for the PLO to accept responsibility for the actions of its members, and punish them, Blake calls for the organization to “disassociate” itself from the attacks, as if this is a sufficient moral response from responsible political leaders. A more robust reaction would have been to demand that the PLO condemn the attack and assist in the prosecution of the perpetrators.

The WCC’s inability to hold the PLO to account is rooted in a failure to discern the PLO’s stated intent to destroy Israel. At no point in these letters did WCC officials acknowledge that the PLO’s explicit goal, enunciated in its charter approved in 1964, was the liberation of Palestine, which logically meant Israel’s destruction. This same charter declared Zionism an “illegal movement” and “outlaw[ed] its presence and activities” in the territory the PLO sought to liberate. This is clearly a rejection of Jewish self-determination.[37] Because of the WCC’s inability to acknowledge this reality, the organization failed to understand that acts of terror were not motivated by a desire to achieve “self-determination” but were an attempt to deny Israeli Jews the ability to live a normal national life in a Jewish state.

Blake reached the height of moral obtuseness when he sent a telegram to Israeli president Zalman Shazar after the Munich massacre that indicated a fundamental inability to discern the difference between victim and perpetrator.[38]

In the opening sentence of the telegram, the WCC general secretary expresses his shock and dismay at “the senseless killings of members of the Israeli olympic [sic] team, their abductors and German officials that have taken place in Munich” – as if there was an equivalence between the Israeli victims, the German police who tried to rescue them, and the terrorists guilty of murder. Blake then asserts that “responsible Arab and Palestinian bodies” have “disassociated themselves” from the attack; he did not seem aware that they thereby gave PLO leaders cover to evade blame.

Blake says he prays “that this tragic event will not give rise to reprisals and revenge from any quarter, but that in the midst of sadness and the sense of outrage, reason and repentance will prevail and no more lives will be needlessly sacrificed.” As a Christian organization, the WCC must proffer words of peace, but the admonition to Israel not to respond with reprisals raises some obvious questions: how exactly was Israel supposed to respond to the massacre of its Olympic athletes in Munich? If Israel was supposed to treat the attack as a matter to be adjudicated by an international or domestic court, should not the WCC have, in its correspondence with the PLO Central Committee, called on the PLO leaders to turn the perpetrators over to the relevant authorities?

Blake then states that the “barbaric” attacks are “especially sad” because they obstruct the cause of peace. This, however, raises another obvious question: did Blake honestly believe that the PLO was interested in the cause of peace in the Middle East? Since its founding in 1964, the PLO had been engaged in an ongoing war with Israel. Even in an expression of condolence for a terrible massacre, the WCC could not refrain from advancing its political agenda.
The WCC’s Response to Violence in Lebanon

The WCC’s response to events in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s was equally obtuse.[39] In their declarations, WCC staffers and decision-making bodies failed to hold the PLO accountable for its actions but vociferously condemned Israel. In particular, the WCC offered vague and diffuse condemnations of massacres in Lebanon in those decades, failing to provide details about either the identity of the victims or the identity and motives of the perpetrators. But when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, WCC institutions forcefully condemned Israel while attributing malign intent to it.

The WCC’s Assembly and Central Committee said hardly a word about massacres perpetrated by the PLO and Christian Phalangists in 1976. On 23 January that year, the PLO murdered several hundred Christians at Damour. Writing in Arutz Sheva in 2002, Murray Kahl provides detail:

Before the arrival of the PLO, [Damour] was a town of some 25,000 people, with five churches, three chapels, seven schools, both private and public, and one public hospital, where Muslims from nearby villages were treated along with the Christians, at the expense of the town.

On 9 January 1976, the priest of Damour, Father Mansour Labaky, was carrying out a Maronite (Roman Catholics [sic]) custom of blessing the houses with holy water when a bullet whistled past his ear and hit one of the houses. He soon learned that the town was surrounded by the forces of Sa’iqa, a PLO terrorist group affiliated with Syria. The shooting and shelling continued all day. When Father Labaky telephoned a local Muslim sheikh and asked him, as a fellow religious leader, what he could do to help the people of the town, the sheikh replied, “I can do nothing. They want to harm you. It is the Palestinians. I cannot stop them.” Other Lebanese politicians, of both the Left and the Right, proved equally unhelpful, offering only apologies and commiserations. Kamal Jumblatt, in whose parliamentary constituency Damour lay, told Labaky, “Father, I can do nothing for you, because it depends on Yasser Arafat.” The Maronite priest then called Arafat’s headquarters, but was deferred to a subordinate, who told him “Father, don’t worry. We don’t want to harm you. If we are destroying you it is for strategic reasons.”[40]

Despite the pleas, the violence continued against the Christians of Damour. Labaky described the final attack that took place on 23 January 1976:

It was an apocalypse. They were coming, thousands and thousands, shouting “Allahu Akbar! God is Great! Let us attack them for the Arabs, let us offer a holocaust.” They were slaughtering everyone in their path, men, women, and children. Whole families were killed in their homes. Many women were gang-raped, and few of them left alive afterwards.[41]

The PLO massacre at Damour was a precursor to another massacre at Tel al-Zaatar, this time perpetrated by Christian Phalangists on 12 August 1976. The atrocity took place after a long siege during which there was no water, food, nor medical supplies for the inhabitants of the camp. Children died from dehydration during the siege, which ended in a slaughter of many of the town’s inhabitants. Newsweek provided some details:

As the people of Tal Zaatar surge[d] out toward the “confrontation line” between Christian and Muslim Beirut, the rightists fell on them like wolves, arguing, by some accounts, over how many Palestinians each right-wing group was entitled to execute. Many young Palestinians stooped and shuffled in pitifully transparent attempts to make themselves look old and noncombatant, but it was no use; entire families were killed. Some of the luckier Palestinians were merely lined up and forced to cheer the names of Phalangist leaders and of Syrian President Hafez Assad. “We all did so willingly,” teacher Ahmad Maaruf told NEWSWEEK. “It was a very cheap price for our lives.”[42]

The WCC’s Executive Committee met in March 1976 – two months after the massacre at Damour – and issued a statement that merely appealed to “all parties involved in Lebanon to renounce violence, and to spare human lives through a renewed commitment to finding negotiated solutions.” [43] The Executive Committee also asserted “that the conflict in Lebanon is essentially political, not religious,” and asked WCC member churches to “do their utmost to bring a just peace to Lebanon and the whole Middle East.” The statement made no mention of the slaughter of Christians in Damour.

The WCC’s Central Committee met from 10 to 18 August 1976 and said nothing about the Tel al-Zataar massacre, which took place two days after it began deliberations. In a resolution on events in Lebanon, the Central Committee warned the mass media to “avoid describing the Lebanon crisis as a religious conflict” – despite the obvious sectarian aspects of both massacres. The killers who chanted “Allahu Akbar” at Damour clearly thought their attack had a religious component. And it is difficult to believe that the Phalangists did not have the Damour attack in their minds during the massacre they perpetrated.

In lamenting the crisis, the Central Committee stated that “civilian populations have often been the first to suffer, for example in Damour, Koura and Tel al-Zaatar, and they need immediate humanitarian relief. But such outrages can only be avoided in the future if the spirit of reconciliation in terms of forgiveness, understanding and reconstruction is revived.”[44]

The WCC Assembly, which met in Vancouver in 1983, said nothing specific about these massacres in its statement on the Middle East and even failed to acknowledge the 1982 Sabra and Shatilla massacre perpetrated by Christian Phalangists allied with Israel. Instead it said in general terms: “The agony of the Lebanese war is not yet over. The integrity and independence of Lebanon are in greater danger than ever.” The statement also reported that the “ecumenical community shares the agony of the peoples in Lebanon who have been tragically suffering over the last nine years and who have been carrying too large a burden of the problems in the region.”

Israel’s Invasion of Lebanon

The WCC’s tendency to assail Israel while giving its adversaries a pass manifested itself in its response to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, which began on 6 June 1982.

The PLO and its constituent groups had been attacking Israeli civilians for over a decade.[45] A WCC pamphlet released several weeks after the invasion largely ignored this fact.[46] This compendium of statements, published by the CCIA, opens with an introduction that demonizes Israel while saying virtually nothing about the actions of the PLO in the years and months before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. [47]

Written by the then CCIA director Ninan Koshy, the introduction declares that Israel’s “pretext” for its invasion “was the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador in London.” In the next sentence, however, Koshy asserts that “the cease-fire was violated by Israel.”[48] The PLO’s attempted assassination of an ambassador elicits no condemnation from him, but Israel’s subsequent response does.

Koshy goes on to offer a blistering critique of Israeli intentions. Before the invasion, he reports, Israel expressed a desire to “make South Lebanon free from the PLO”; but “as the war escalated, Israeli objectives also escalated.” As he puts it:

This was a premeditated, carefully planned, ruthlessly executed aggression. The objective was to exterminate Palestinian nationalism. The invasion was part of the Israeli attempt at solving the Palestinian problem by force both within the occupied territories and outside.[49]

The PLO comes off much better in Koshy’s introduction:

Of all the liberation movements in recent history, the PLO has been one of the most viable in genuineness of motivation, grass roots appeal, organizational structure and international support and standing. Tribulations of Palestinian disinheritance and statelessness have prompted them in the past to take maximalist and unrealistic positions. But if one reads carefully resolutions of Palestinian National Councils, one can notice a movement away from maximalism, from the claims about the whole of Palestine and rejection of a “mini-state,” to an implied though conditional acceptance of such a state. It is likely that an Arab consensus will emerge, making possible this shift to be explicit. There will be a new political profile for the PLO. The PLO might feel that the kind of military build up [sic] it had in Lebanon probably had negative effects in terms of relations with the Lebanese.[50]

Koshy simply misled his readers by claiming that the PLO had modulated its hostility toward Israel, abandoned its maximalist rejectionism of Israel’s existence, and had conditionally embraced the legitimacy of a Jewish state. In February 1982, just a few months before the invasion, Arafat said otherwise.

Speaking at a celebration of the thirteen anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (the DFLP), Arafat addressed his “brothers and companions of the gun in the DFLP,” and told them that “we are together and side by side in the march towards the liberation of Palestine, all Palestine [applause].” Arafat went on to brag that it was not the PLO that had asked for the ceasefire in July 1981. In fact, he said, “it was they [the Israelis] who asked for a cease-fire in the July war; it was they who asked for a cease-fire in the July war [applause].” Arafat said that while the PLO agreed to a ceasefire with Israel, it was limited only to the Lebanese border, and ultimately he could never accept a ceasefire

as long as there is occupied Palestinian territory [applause.] That should be obvious. No Palestinian leadership could cease fire as long as there was occupied Palestinian territory. The joint forces have cubs and flowers [male and female youth organizations] fighting and will continue to advance. We know, brothers, that Palestine was sold at the cheapest price….[51]

Arafat’s speech had echoed a political platform issued by Fatah, another constituent body of the PLO, which in 1980 called for the “liberation of Palestine, a full and complete liberation” and the “annihilation of the Zionist entity in all of its economic, political, military and cultural manifestations.” The struggle, Fatah stated, “will be carried on without interruption until the annihilation of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine are achieved.”[52] This is not the rhetoric of a movement intent on achieving self-determination for the Palestinians, but of a movement intent on denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.

Moreover, Koshy failed to acknowledge the suffering of Lebanese living under PLO control. In the years after its arrival in Lebanon in 1975 – after it was expelled from Jordan for, among other things, attempting to assassinate King Hussein – the PLO turned southern Lebanon into an armed camp. It treated the Lebanese in this area with great viciousness and snubbed its nose at the international community by ejecting UN peacekeepers from their positions and replacing them with its own troops.

The details of the PLO’s misdeeds were exposed when the New York Times provided extensive coverage of its conduct in Lebanon. “For about six years,” the Times reported, “until Israel invaded Southern Lebanon on June 6, the Palestinians had something closely approaching an independent state.” David K. Shipler wrote that this entity

had an army, a police force, a crude judicial system, an educational and welfare system, a civil service and a foreign policy. Those who lived within its rough boundaries said they were too terrified then to describe it to outsiders. Now, for the first time, they are describing what it was like, telling of theft, intimidation and violence.[53]

Many of the citizens of this “state within a state” were Palestinian refugees who were denied the right to become citizens of Lebanon, but most of the inhabitants were “Lebanese nationals…both Christians and Moslems, who said they felt powerless in their own homes.” Most were willing to tell their story, Shipler reported, but others feared the PLO’s return. Those who did talk told stories similar to what Hamas and Hizballah subsequently did in Gaza and Lebanon, respectively. Terrorists used people’s homes and gardens to store weapons and launch attacks on Israel, thereby inviting Israeli attacks on their property.

Shipler also reported that

the huge sums of money the P.L.O. received from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries seems to have been spent primarily on weapons and ammunition, which were placed strategically in densely populated civilian areas in the hope that this would either deter Israeli attacks or exact a price from Israel in world opinion for killing civilians.[54]

On the same day the New York Times published Shipler’s account, the Los Angeles Times published a report on Lebanese Christians telling about PLO atrocities in their country. They spoke of the PLO tearing people apart by tying them to cars and having them drive in opposite directions; of the PLO throwing corpses of their opponents into vats of acid.[55]

In a Different Voice

In Koshy’s defense, it can be argued that the revelations about the PLO’s misdeeds came to light after the CCIA backgrounder went to press on 12 July 1982.[56] (The New York Times and Los Angeles Times articles were published the following day.)

Nevertheless, neither the WCC’s Central Committee, which met after the publication of these articles in July 1982, nor the Assembly, which met in the summer of 1983, condemned the PLO by name in the statements they issued.

The Central Committee held a meeting in Geneva on 19-28 July 1982, well after the PLO’s atrocities were revealed to the world, and it said nothing about them. Instead of acknowledging how the PLO had mistreated the Lebanese people, the Central Committee blamed Israel for imposing pressures “aimed at further dividing the Lebanese and turning them more bitterly against the Palestinians.”[57] The PLO had done a fine job of souring the Lebanese people against the Palestinian cause; yet the Central Committee blamed Israel for this process.

The Central Committee then reported that a WCC delegation had spoken “with special urgency of the plight of West Beirut, describing its siege by the Israeli forces as horrible and scandalous. They portrayed the intolerable physical and psychological pressures on a people waiting for a final, devastating attack.”

And while the WCC Assembly held in Vancouver in 1983 said nothing about the massacres in Lebanon, it was very critical of Israeli policies in the West Bank, calling on Israel to withdraw from “all territories occupied in 1967.”

The Israeli settlement policy on the West Bank has resulted in a de facto annexation giving final touches to a discriminatory policy of development of peoples that flagrantly violates the basic rights of the Palestinian people. There are fears of relocation of the inhabitants on the West Bank and their expulsion. A large number of Palestinians are under detention in the prisons on the West Bank and in camps in Lebanon.[58]

The Assembly was also very critical of Israel’s supporters, calling on Christians in the West to “recognize that their guilt over the fate of the Jews in their countries may have influenced their views of the conflict in the Middle East and has led to uncritical support of the policies of the state of Israel, thereby ignoring the plight of the Palestinian people and their rights.” The statement also lamented the difficulty Palestinians had in gaining access to holy sites in Jerusalem, as if relations between the Israelis and the inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip did not pose serious security threats to Israelis living in that city.

Isaac Rottenberg, author of The Turbulent Triangle: Christians, Jews, Israel, writes that the text of the statement on the Middle East was based on a draft formulated by a “self-appointed group of partisans, financed by the Middle East Council of Churches.” These partisans came to the Assembly, Rottenberg reports, “not for dialogue, but to pull off a political coup. The climate they found was sympathetic (or, at least, indifferent) enough for them to succeed.” Rottenberg adds that after the passage of this statement, WCC general secretary Phillip Potter “was asked about the obvious biases and imbalances in the document on the Middle East.” Rottenberg continues:

According to press reports his response went as follows: “The Jews have other voices speaking on their behalf.” In other words, through our imbalance we balance the scale for the poor Palestinians and the PLO. Having no other voice, they, therefore, deserve the compassionate concern of the WCC.[59]

This episode shows the WCC’s corrupt witness about the Arab-Israeli conflict in a nutshell. WCC personnel issue statements that demonize Israel. Statements from the WCC’s Assembly about the Arab-Israeli conflict are written in more circumspect and diplomatic language, but still single Israel out for condemnation at the behest of Christians living in the Middle East. The WCC downplays the misdeeds of other ruthless regimes throughout the world at the behest of local churches that live in the shadow of these regimes. Concerns over access to holy sites in Jerusalem are given greater weight than Israeli security needs. Support for Israel is portrayed as “unreflective”; biases in favor of its adversaries are portrayed as siding with the powerless.

The difference between voices the WCC uses to address Israel and other actors in the Middle East is self-evident. In the West Bank, there is no confusion over who is responsible for the suffering (Israel) and what it must do (withdraw). But when it comes to Lebanon, where well-known actors had perpetrated unspeakable atrocities that any responsible religious leader would condemn, the WCC retreated into bland mumblings. From its statements there is simply no way to tell who is responsible for the suffering the WCC laments in Lebanon, unless this suffering can be blamed on Israel.

This problem has persisted in the decades since. The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) documented the problem in a 2004 report about mainline human rights activism, which included a section on the WCC. According to the IRD, statements about human rights issued by liberal Protestant churches and the institutions they support make it difficult to determine who, aside from Israel (and the United States), is being criticized. But “when the subject of Israeli abuses comes up, mainline resolution writers frequently discover a zest for hard hitting prose. They name the victims, describe their specific sufferings, and point a finger at the perpetrator. Every detail serves to heighten the sense of outrage.”[60]

In sum, the WCC’s response to events in Lebanon meets two of Sharansky’s criteria for anti-Semitism when dealing with Israel. Koshy’s writings about the 1982 invasion clearly demonize Israel and apply a double standard to the respective actions of the PLO and the Israeli government. And the resolutions passed by the WCC’s Central Committee and Assembly used different standards to assess the actions of Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. Simply put, the WCC’s prophetic voice was badly corrupted with an undeniable obsession with the behavior of the Jewish state.

Covering for the Soviet Union

The corruption of the WCC’s prophetic voice was also readily apparent in how the organization responded to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. As noted, the WCC’s 1983 Assembly lambasted Israel for its policies in the West Bank; it took, however, a much softer line toward the Soviet invasion that killed thousands of people, many of them civilians. In its statement the Assembly made no reference to the USSR’s invasion of another sovereign country, but merely lamented that “continuing fighting” in Afghanistan had “led to tremendous suffering for vast sections of the population, many of whom have become refugees. The UN estimates that there are more than three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran.”[61]

The Assembly’s statement, amazingly enough, called for “an end to the supply of arms to the opposition groups from the outside” – which would have effectively given the Soviet Union a free hand in the country it had invaded. The statement also called for a “withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the context of an overall political settlement, including agreement between Afghanistan and the USSR.” A statement issued by the WCC’s Executive Committee soon after the invasion in 1979 was not much stronger; it merely expressed “serious concern” about “the military action by the USSR in Afghanistan as constituting the latest direct armed intervention in one country by another.”[62]

Clearly this is thin gruel compared to the response of the WCC’s officers to the USSR’s suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968. In that case they called on the USSR to reconsider its invasion and to “remove all its troops from Czechoslovakia at the earliest possible moment, and to renounce the use of force upon its allies.”

J. A. Emerson Vermaat reports that the WCC took a soft approach toward the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan because it was “forced by its member churches from Eastern Europe, particularly the Russian Orthodox Church, to come close to the official Soviet position.” The issue, Vermaat reports, was discussed at two WCC meetings before the 1983 Assembly.

The first was the World Conference on Mission and Evangelism, which took place in Melbourne in May 1980. At this WCC-organized event, delegates from the Russian Orthodox Church formed an alliance with delegates from Latin America to keep the invasion of Afghanistan off the table. The Latin American delegates, Vermaat reports, were working for the passage of a declaration on U.S. policies in Nicaragua and did not want the issue of Afghanistan to divert attention from their cause.[63]

Delegates from the United States also cooperated with this effort, Vermaat recounts, so as to prevent the issue of Afghanistan from dividing the conference:

American church delegates in Melbourne invited the Russians for a meeting…to discuss the role of the churches as “agents of reconciliation.” At this meeting a decision was made to exclude the matter of Afghanistan from the conference’s proceedings and to concentrate on other issues where divisions were less sharp, such as the churches’ role in proclaiming peace. Thus the Russians succeeded in effectively neutralizing most of the opposition to proposals to omit the Afghanistan issue from final documents.[64]

Still, there were some holdouts who insisted that a reference to the invasion be made in the conference’s proceedings, affirming that the Afghan people had a right to self-determination just as the people in Latin America. In response, one Russian archbishop stated that the Russian Orthodox delegation “represents millions of believers in the Soviet Union. We represent millions of believers in the Soviet Union. Our people share the policy of our government which purports to give the Afghan government the assistance it asked for.” Another Russian delegate warned that if Afghanistan was mentioned, “our position in the WCC would be subject to reconsideration.”[65]

Ultimately, the conference issued a statement that spoke of “foreign powers [that] are intervening militarily and governments which oppress, exploit, imprison and kill innocent people.” These countries were left unnamed, the statement said, because to do so

may endanger the position – even the lives – of many of our brothers and sisters, some of whom are participating in this Conference. We therefore confess our inability to be as prophetic as we ought to be, as that may, in some instances, entail imposing martyrdom on our fellow believers in those countries – something we dare not do from a safe distance.[66]

Delegates from the Russian Orthodox Church were able to keep Afghanistan off the table at another WCC meeting in August 1980. At this gathering of the Central Committee in Geneva, delegates affirmed a resolution that called on the United States to “halt all assistance to El Salvador and to guarantee that it will not intervene to determine the fate of the Salvadoran people.” But when it came to the issue of Afghanistan, Vermaat reports, the Central Committee did not mention either Afghanistan or the Soviet Union by name; instead it referred its followers back to a statement issued by the WCC’s Executive Committee in February 1980: “The Central Committee, in light of the statement ‘Threats to Peace’ adopted by the Executive Committee of the WCC…expresses its deep continuing concern regarding prevailing threats to peace, including those mentioned in the statement.…”[67]

The same process played itself out at the 1983 Assembly. A representative of the Russian Orthodox Church said that calls for immediate Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan by the WCC Assembly “would be politically misused” and his church’s loyalty to “the ecumenical movement would be challenged.” As a result of this lobbying, Vermaat notes, the Soviet Union “was allowed to set the terms of its own withdrawal – a clear acquiescence to a form of power politics so often condemned by the WCC when the aggressor or interventionist state is not the Soviet Union.”[68]

Thus, church leaders from the Middle East were able to direct the organization’s ire at Israel, while representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church were able to prevent the WCC from condemning the USSR for its invasion of Afghanistan.

The Second Intifada

One of the most troublesome aspects of the WCC’s witness about the Arab-Israeli conflict is that when violence against Israel escalated after the collapse of the peace process in 2000, the organization’s polemics against Israel escalated at the same time. When Israeli civilians were being blown up by suicide bombers during the Second Intifada, WCC institutions did not play a conciliatory role but broadcast a one-sided story that served to justify Palestinian violence against Israel and undermined Israel’s efforts to defend itself. WCC statements, especially those of the Central Committee, restate the Palestinian narrative lock, stock, and barrel.

The tone that the WCC was going to take in response to the Second Intifada was revealed at a meeting of the Central Committee in Potsdam, Germany, in early 2001, just a few months after the uprising began. In a “minute” or resolution on the Second Intifada, the Central Committee expressed “its deep sadness and grave concern at the new escalation of violence in the Palestinian autonomous and occupied territories as well as Israel over the last four months that has claimed a terrible toll of human life, especially among children and youth.”[69] Elsewhere the minute states:

We share the frustration and disappointments of our Palestinian sisters and brothers. We are deeply disturbed by and deplore a pattern of discrimination, routine humiliation, segregation and exclusion which restricts Palestinian freedom of movement, including access to the holy sites, and disproportionate use of military force by Israel, the denial of access to timely medical assistance, the destruction of property, including tens of thousands of olive trees, and which requires special permission for Palestinians to enter areas under Israeli jurisdiction and establishes “cantonization” of the land, so that Palestinian lands are separated from one another – a pattern so very reminiscent of policies that the WCC has condemned in the past.

The resolution also called on the WCC’s general secretary (Rev. Samuel Kobia) and staffers to support “efforts toward a negotiated peace in the Middle East” and to pay special attention to “the future status of Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, the increasing number of settlements and measures to enforce all relevant United Nations resolutions, including those regarding the withdrawal from all occupied territories – the Palestine occupied territories, the Golan Heights and Shaba’a.” The onus for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, then, rests solely on Israel. The Central Committee does not offer one word of condemnation or criticism of the Palestinians, as if they have no responsibility whatsoever for the collapse of the peace process.

The Central Committee’s refusal to grapple with the events that preceded the uprising was evident in a background report[70] commended to WCC member churches by the Central Committee on 29 January 2001. It states:

The significant compromises made by the Palestinian leadership to meet Israel’s demands had not been reciprocated by significant steps on the part of Israel to implement their commitments, but rather by reiterated delays accompanied by ever increasing demands on the Palestine National Authority to provide security, inter alia, for illegal Israeli settlers. In the view of many Palestinians, the moribund peace process was dealt a death stroke in Jerusalem with the massive show of armed force at the time of the visit of Ariel Sharon.

The notion that Palestinian leaders had made “significant compromises” flies in the face of some well-known history: Arafat turned down an offer at Camp David in the summer of 2000, failed to make a counteroffer, and then rejected a more generous offer in the form of the Clinton parameters a few months later. What “significant compromises” is the report talking about?

And the assertion that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount on 28 September 2000 “dealt a death stroke” to the peace process fails to take into account that two Israeli soldiers were killed in the days before his visit and that Palestinian leaders had been preparing for the Second Intifada soon after negotiations collapsed.

For example, in July 2000, Arafat had a letter published in the Palestinian Authority’s monthly magazine Al-Shahuda “to the brave Palestinian people,” telling them to “be prepared. The battle for Jerusalem has begun.” And on 30 August 2000, the Palestinian Authority stated in another official publication, Al-Sabah (“The Morning”), that it would declare “a general Intifada for Jerusalem. The time for the intifada has arrived, the time for jihad has arrived.” Moreover, Khaled Abu Toameh reported that “as the Camp David summit was underway, Arafat’s Fatah organization, the biggest faction of the PLO, started training Palestinian teenagers for the upcoming violence in 40 training camps throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” In short, the Palestinian Authority was publicly preparing for the Second Intifada months before it began, demonstrating that at worst, Sharon’s visit was a pretext for the intifada, not the death knell of the peace process.[71]

In the summer of 2001, the WCC sent a delegation to Israel as part of a fact-finding commission. In addition to unofficially attending the funeral of PLO leader Faisal Husseini (grandson of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) and meeting with various representatives of Orthodox churches in Jerusalem, the delegation met with Bishops Munib Younan, Michel Sabbah, and Riah Abu al-Assal, all of whom have spent their careers assailing Israel; UN officials; and Sabeel activists Jean Zaru and Hillary Rantisi. The delegation did meet with some Israeli groups such as Bat Shalom, BADIL, Rabbis for Human Rights, and the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions.[72] These, however, are all part of the Israeli peace camp, which has embraced a narrative of Jewish self-reform leading to peace that has been disconfirmed by recent history.[73]

Given the delegation’s itinerary, it is no surprise that its report on its trip failed to take into account the role Palestinian leaders played in the collapse of the peace process.[74] Instead, the report mischaracterized the events that preceded the Second Intifada by stating that during the delegation’s meetings “the territorial compromise by the Palestinians was reiterated and Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognized borders was acknowledged. The call was to struggle against occupation, not Israel’s existence.” Again, it is necessary to ask, what territorial compromise is the report talking about?

The delegation framed Palestinian violence with bland euphemisms and excuses, saying it was “told that the offensive and defensive measures taken by Palestinians are due to the international community’s failure to respond to the impunity Israel continues to enjoy, and the present total siege imposed on the Palestinian territories.” The report included a long litany of how the Palestinians were suffering but no description of the violence endured by the Israelis, nor did it mention Hamas’s efforts to derail the peace process with its suicide attacks. The report failed to address Arafat’s misdeeds altogether. With such a one-sided narrative that ignored legitimate and undeniable Israeli concerns, the WCC delegation disqualified itself from providing credible witness about the conflict.

The WCC and the Durban Conference

The WCC’s response to the events at the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance that took place in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 is a tour de force of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. In a press release issued on 7 September that year, 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.”[75]

The statement failed to address the virulent anti-Semitism that was on display at the conference. Arab and Muslim extremists from the Middle East, along with their allies from the radical left in Europe and the United States, were able to convince the gathering to affirm an amalgam of ritualistic charges of genocide, racism, and ethnic cleansing targeted at Israel.

Jews were singularly denied the right to participate in the proceedings at the conference because they could not be “objective.” The Jewish Center at the conference was closed because of threats of violence. Protesters carried signs stating that if Hitler had finished the job there were would be no state of Israel and no Palestinian suffering.[76] During the conference a Jewish doctor was beaten by people wearing checkered keffiyehs – the symbol of the Palestinian cause – who said Jews were the cause of all the problems in the Middle East. A local Jewish leader attributed the attack to the atmosphere at the conference.[77]

The WCC’s delegation commented on none of this, but merely remarked that

there are some statements in the NGO forum document which are outside the WCC’s policy framework, and which the WCC cannot support, such as: equating Zionism with racism, describing Israel as an apartheid state, and the call for a general boycott of Israeli goods. This does not detract from the WCC’s support for the document as a whole.[78]

The Durban Conference turned into an anti-Jewish hatefest, and the best the WCC’s delegation could do was say it disapproved some statements that were “outside the WCC’s policy framework.”

The delegation also asserted that tofocus on some sections of the NGO Forum document is disrespectful to all other sections, which cover a vast number of issues significant to the victims of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. Those wide concerns are represented within the membership of the WCC delegation and cannot be ignored.[79]

With this affirmation, the WCC’s delegation ignored a central aspect of the Durban conference: it ignored the mistreatment of religious and ethnic minorities in Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East. Walid Phares reports that at the conference, there were no representatives from

Southern Sudan, Darfur, Kurds, Berbers, Copts, Assyrio-Chaldeans, Mauritanian blacks, Arabs in Iran, or other persecuted groups in the Arab and Muslim world…. Discrimination against ethnic groups within the Arab and Muslim world wasn’t even on the agenda. Organizers detailed past historical, and of course Western, racism, but didn’t utter a single word on the present-day sufferings of hundreds of millions of disenfranchised peoples from the Atlas Mountains to the Himalayas.[80]

The WC affirmed this distorted agenda before the conference started. In a background paper submitted to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 15 August 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. The backgrounder asserts that the “dominant source of this social ill [racism] is white racism against people of colour around the world.” It also warns that the “role Christianity has played in denigrating and devaluing Indigenous contributions to the understanding of Christianity in the context of non-Western tradition has to be acknowledged.”[81]

The statement did allow that “religious intolerance and the political manipulation of religion and religious affiliation are on the rise in many parts of the world, and are increasingly a factor in national and international conflict,” and that “certain religious teachings and practices contribute to and aggravate religious intolerance, as well as perpetuate cultural and racial discrimination.” It even granted that “certain religious enterprises have been used as catalysts for colonization, slavery and apartheid.”[82]

It just didn’t say where.

An Arafat Eulogy

When Yasser Arafat died in 2004, the WCC further revealed its pro-Palestinian tilt, sending a letter of condolence to Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei. Written by CCIA director Peter Weiderud, it said in part:

President Arafat will be remembered for bringing the Palestinian people together and for his unique and tenacious contribution to the cause of establishing their national home.

We stand with the Churches of the Holy Land to honour his commitment to their place in Palestinian society, its affairs and its future. President Arafat often made sure to mention the church as well as the mosque as core institutions of Palestinian national life. True to the customs of mutual respect among his diverse people, he celebrated Christmas with the churches of Bethlehem as circumstances permitted.

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. His path has now ended, amid the rocks and thorns of occupation, at a distance from the goal he sought. As he is laid to rest the world will see – from the location of his final resting place.

The World Council of Churches:

-major supporter and leader of the anti-Israel boycott and divestment campaign.

-active in efforts to demonize Israel at the UN.
... -funds the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), which uses demonizing terms such as "apartheid" and "war crimes," and promotes boycotts and divestment.

-WCC hosted the 2006 "global advocacy week concerning the situation in Palestine and Israel", which was endorsed by a number of NGOs including Caritas Jerusalem and EAPPI, and included "solidarity visits with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron," a "settlement tour with ICAHD" and an opportunity to "witnes[s] the destruction in Jenin Refugee Camp"....

-According to its website, The World Council of Churches (WCC) "brings together 347 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians". (NGO Monitor)

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