Israel will soon be subjected to a withering campaign of lies and misinformation broadcast by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and many of its member denominations in North America and Europe.
The pretext for this attack will be the departure of its activists from Hebron. On January 29, 2019, the WCC announced that these activists, who operated as part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine Israel (EAPPI), would be withdrawn from the city.
The WCC’s decision comes on the heels of a decision by the Israeli government to expel the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH). The expulsion came after a TIPH observer was videotaped vandalizing Israeli cars, and another video surfaced showing a TIPH observer striking a Jewish child. The EAPPI abandoned Hebron after Im Tirtzu, an Israeli non-profit, began filming its activists as they bird-dogged Israeli soldiers in the city.
When the WCC announced the departure of its activists from the city, WCC General Secretary Olav Fyske Tveit declared, “The WCC accompaniers are currently prevented from fulfilling their role as a peaceful protective presence in Hebron.”
Don’t believe a word of it.
EAPPI activists are a menace to the cause of peace between Arabs and Jews in the West Bank. Not only do EAPPI activists provide aid and comfort to Palestinian extremists that hinder efforts to normalize relations between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, but they brazenly violate Israeli law. They engage in political activism, in violation of the terms of the tourist visas that they use to get into Israel. While WCC officials deny that EAPPI activists have engaged in politics, photos posted by the activists themselves all over the Internet prove otherwise.
They also violate Israeli law by ignoring instructions from Israeli soldiers not to take their pictures. Just ask Giselle Lawn, an EAPPI activist who spoke at the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in Oklahoma in October 2018. After showing several photos of Israeli soldiers working at security checkpoints to conference attendees, Lawn declared openly that she had been instructed not to take the photos, but took them anyway. Lawn’s public admission — in a breakout session at a Christian peace conference — that she took pictures of soldiers contrary to their instructions raises a question about EAPPI’s decision to leave Hebron after its activists were videotaped: If EAPPI activists feel entitled to film or take pictures of Israeli soldiers at checkpoints, then why can’t they themselves be videotaped? What do they have to hide?
An undeniable anti-Israel slant also pervades EAPPI’s “peacemaking” activism. At one point, the EAPPI published an editorial in its now defunct magazine, Chain Reaction, calling for a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict (which would mean the elimination of the Jewish state), and another article that called on supporters to break the law by hacking government websites. Given the context, there is no doubt that the author wanted “peace” activists to hack Israeli government websites. Despite all of this, the EAPPI program enjoys substantial support from European governments and charity agencies. According to NGO Monitor, EAPPI is funded by a number of governments, including Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
In 2016, EAPPI activists escorted Palestinian extremist Hasan Breijieh as he harassed Jews near their homes in the West Bank. An Israeli citizen recorded the encounter.
In the video, two EAPPI activists are present along with Kobe Snitz, head of Anarchists Against the Wall. What exactly are EAPPI activists doing with Breijieh? In addition to being a member of a Palestinian terror group, he is also a poet who has written a piece that lauds the prospect of Jews being murdered in the West Bank.
The poem — titled “Why the Shyness on Your Face?” — invokes the image of William Wallace, conveying the hope that Jews will be murdered sometime in the near future. Providing a protective presence to a member of a terrorist organization who demonizes Jews in verse is not “peacemaking.” It is aiding and abetting people who seek Israel’s destruction.
The World Council of Churches will do what it can to spin this latest controversy into a critique of Israel, but the evidence is overwhelming. Its activists in the Holy Land do not promote peace, but instead assist Palestinian extremists in their efforts to demonize Israel.
Their presence in Hebron will not be missed.
Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). His opinions are his own.