A straight line runs from the demonisation and delegitimization of Israel, so common in the media and international forums like NGOs and the UN, to incidents like the boycott of Israel instituted by the ANC, the ruling party of South Africa. This demonisation and delegitimization, (part of Natan Sharansky’s 3D test of anti-Israel bias) always intensifies around Christmas-time, in the well-worn manner of the European antisemites throughout the centuries who accused the Jews of deicide.
This year the Guardian doesn’t fail in its time-honoured fashion of bringing us a weepy emotive article about Bethlehem and the evils of the Israeli occupation. I was going to fisk it thoroughly, and then Honest Reporting’s article popped into my inbox. They have done a much more thorough and elegant job than I could have done, and have saved me a great deal of effort so I will quote from their post, “Squeezing a story out of Bethlehem” and recommend that you read it all:
Every year around this time, it’s the same tired old story. A journalist attempts to find a Christmas angle for Palestinian suffering, most often focusing on Bethlehem’s Palestinian Christian residents. […]
The Guardian regularly trashes or undermines Jewish historical claims to the land of Israel that go back to biblical times. Why is it, however, that the same paper has no problem promoting the claims of Palestinians using biblical imagery to buttress the case if those Palestinians happen to be Christian?
Sherwood’s Observer piece “Bethlehem Christians feel the squeeze as Israeli settlements spread” begins with the subhead:
Near a biblical landscape of donkeys and olive trees, homes are being built and Palestinian Christians fear for their future.
Referring to the Jerusalem suburbs of Gilo and Har Homa as “settlements”, Sherwood claims that “Both are largely built on Bethlehem land.” In reality, much of Gilo’s land was legally purchased by Jews in the 1930s while most of Har Homa’s land was Jewish owned dating back to the 1940s.
If Sherwood’s history is faulty, then so is her geography. According to her:
Bethlehem is now surrounded by 22 settlements, including Nokdim, where the hardline former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman lives, and Neve Daniel, home to public diplomacy minister Yuli Edelstein.
Sherwood is evidently trying to make a political point considering that both Nokdim and Neve Daniel are both tiny in comparison to the Bethlehem region and are located at least 10km away from the center of Bethlehem and are themselves surrounded by Arab settlements. In addition, Neve Daniel is part of the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements, a region where the core Jewish villages had been founded in the 1940s on land purchased by Jews in the 1920s and 30s and destroyed before the 1948 War of Independence. Most observers believe Gush Etzion would be annexed to Israel in the event of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
But the crux of Sherwood’s piece can be summed up as follows:
In the birthplace of Jesus, the impact of Israeli settlements and their growth has been devastating.
While Christians now make up a minority of Bethlehem’s residents, Sherwood’s piece gives the impression that Israel is chiefly responsible for the plight of the Christian community there. She talks about the Palestinian suburb of Beit Jala and the Israeli security barrier without mentioning the security situation there during the last Palestinian intifada. One of the chief reasons that the security barrier was built in the first place was in order to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Jerusalem from the Bethlehem region while Beit Jala was used as a firing position for Palestinian gunmen shooting at Israeli civilians in their Gilo homes during the early 2000s.
As for the decline of the Christian population:
Over recent decades Christians have left Bethlehem in their thousands, and now are a minority in a city they once dominated. In 2008 Christians accounted for 28% of Bethlehem city’s population of about 25,000. The daily grind of living under occupation, with few opportunities, little hope and the violence of the Palestinian uprising 10 years ago are cited as the chief reasons for departure.
But as the Associated Press stated in its own story on Bethlehem at Christmas this time last year:
The number of Christians in the West Bank is on the decline. While some leave for economic reasons, many speak of persecution by the Muslim majority, but always anonymously, fearing retribution.
Christians have even lost their majority in Bethlehem, where more than two-thirds of the some 50,000 Palestinian residents are now Muslim.
Read the whole thing.
Considering the persecution of the Christian minority in the Palestinian territories by the Muslim authorities, one ought to be surprised that Christian groups use Christmas to demonise both Jews and Israel, the one country in the Middle East where Christians are not only protected but are growing in numbers. Sadly this antisemitic bias is nothing new and is both politically and religiously motivated.
A new report from NGO Monitor reveals that several Christian organizations that support the Palestinian Authority are using Christmas to attack Israel. Holiday propaganda ranged from half-truths aimed at portraying Israel as oppressive to “crude anti-Semitism” based on historic Christian accusations of Jews being prophet-killers, the group said.
The report, titled, “O Boycott All ye Faithful,” criticized groups including Christian Aid, Sabeel, Kairos Palestine, and Israel Palestine Mission Network, Presbyterian Church (USA).
The latter group has published a daily advent devotional headed by a picture in which Mary and Joseph, parents of Jesus, are trapped behind a wall styled on Israel’s security barrier between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The first entry compares Israel to the Romans who once brutally oppressed the Jewish people.
“Jesus lived when the Roman empire had recently come to his land and made it part of the empire. The Romans were very cruel to any of those who dared to resist the occupation… As we look at the complexity of the Palestine/Israel issues today, I am struck by a sense of déjà vu,” wrote Reverend Richard Toll.
His message also included a warning to “collaborators,” whom he said Christians must expose. The PA considers “collaboration” with Israel in fighting terrorism a death penalty offense.
The annual Christmas message from Sabeel compares Israel to the Roman Empire as well, as does a video message posted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Groups based in England and Ireland – Amos Trust, Christian Aid, and the Ireland Palestinian Solidarity Campaign – used images or writings that targeted Israel’s security barrier by comparing PA residents to figures in early Christianity. Amos Trust, for example, wrote, “If Jesus were born today in Bethlehem, the Wise Men would spend several hours queuing to enter the town.”
The security barrier was built following a brutal wave of suicide attacks targeting Israeli civilians. Jerusalem, just minutes from Bethlehem, was hit by dozens of attacks murdering hundreds of people. Several of the attackers were from Bethlehem, among them a bomber who targeted high school students on their way to school, killing and wounding several dozen.
Unsurprisingly, the issue of terrorism in Bethlehem was not mentioned by any of the organizations. [My emphases -Ed.]
Many of the offending groups are funded by the European Union and European governments. Sabeel is funded by Sweden, and Christian Aid by the UK, Ireland, Norway and the EU.
“As funders, these governments are enablers and share the moral responsibility for the actions of the NGOs,” NGO Monitor declared.
The Algemeiner has more on the NGO Monitor report:
Examples cited by NGO Monitor include:
- War on Want, which receives British government funding, which sent Christmas cards that depict the security barrier paired with religious Christmas images. The reverse side of the card’s image includes the following text: “Bethlehem is one of the many Palestinian towns devastated by Israel’s illegal Separation Wall… Bethlehem, city of peace, has been disfigured by tanks and soldiers on its streets.”
- Kairos Palestine a Christian Arab group, published a 32-page “Christmas Alert” together with Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ). The text includes “distortions on the situation of Palestinian Christians, interlaced with biblically-based sermons. One of these compares the situation of the Palestinians today with the ‘Parable of the Vineyard and the Tenants.’ This parable invokes classic antisemitic deicide themes: the tenants (the Jews) reject the word of God (the owner of the vineyard) and kill his son, causing their land to be taken from them and given to “others.” This document casts modern day Jews as the evil tenants, and the Palestinians as Jesus, whom the tenants seek to kill.”
- Israel Palestine Mission Network, Presbyterian Church (USA), published its Daily Advent Devotional 2012, which demonizes Jews. For example: “Our Advent/Christmas traditions fit this allegory. A loving God sends prophets to Israel to guide them to justice and righteousness. The prophets are rejected, persecuted and often killed.”
Read the NGO Monitor report in the original to get the full sickening impact.
Thank G-d for Israel’s evangelical and other Christian supporters, of whom there are millions worldwide.
And to finish up this trifecta of seasonal
goodwill hatred, the invaluable UN Watch, which monitors the UN for bias against Israel, has published its summary for 2012 and it is very sad reading indeed.
GENEVA, December 18 – The U.N. General Assembly today adopted nine resolutions on Palestinian rights and the Golan, sharply criticizing Israel yet making no mention of Sunday’s massacre of Palestinians by Syrian warplanes firing missiles into a mosque in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus. Nor did the texts mention the tens of thousands of Palestinians who continue to flee the camp.
By the end of this week, the current 2012 UNGA session will have adopted 22 country-specific resolutions on Israel – and only four on the rest of the world combined, one each for Syria, Iran, North Korea and Burma, noted UN Watch. [my emphases -Ed.]
One resolution condemned Israel for holding on to the Golan Heights, demanding Israel hand the land and its people to Syria.
“It’s astonishing,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “At a time when the Syrian regime is massacring its own people, how can the U.N. call for more people to be subject to Assad’s rule? The timing of today’s text is morally galling and logically absurd.”
“What is also outrageous is that these resolutions claim to care about Palestinians, yet the U.N. proves itself completely oblivious to the actual suffering on the ground, happening right now: Palestinians slaughtered, maimed and expelled by Assad’s forces.”
“Today’s farce at the General Assembly underscores a simple fact: the U.N.’s automatic majority has no interest in truly helping Palestinians, nor in protecting anyone’s human rights; the goal of these ritual, one-sided condemnations remains the scapegoating of Israel,” said Neuer.
“The U.N.’s disproportionate assault against the Jewish state undermines the credibility of what is supposed to be an impartial and respected international body, and exposes the sores of politicisation and selectivity that eat away at its founding mission, eroding the U.N. Charter promise of equal treatment to all nations large and small,” Neuer added.
“With more than 40,000 killed in Syria, and millions of Syrian refugees suffering now in the cold of winter, it ought to shock the conscience of mankind that the U.N. will devoting more than 80 percent of this session’s resolutions to Israel, and just one, on Thursday, to Syria.”
The Algemeiner adds one final outrageous coda to the UN saga: the appointment of a historical and Holocaust revisionist to the Human Rights Council:
Today the UN is set to adopt a resolution ratifying all of the 2012 resolutions and decisions of its subsidiary, the 47-nation Human Rights Council. Among them is the appointment in March of Alfred de Zayas to the council as an “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.”
De Zayas has written extensively on World War II, inverting history by placing the allies in the terror camp while becoming an apologist for Nazi crimes. His writings have endeared him to many Holocaust deniers.
Other insulting statements include:
• “Moses had such a rough time bringing the Jewish people across the Red Sea because half of them were busy picking up pretty shells.”
• “Israel emerged out of terrorism against the indigenous population” and its representatives should be denied U.N. accreditation.
It’s like reading Alice in Wonderland but with outrage, hatred, bias and racism replacing the humour and whimsy. It is galling, sickening and terrifying that this hatred still survives and thrives into the 21st century.