(JNS.org) A prominent London church is drawing accusations of bias and protests over its Christmas-themed festival that criticizes Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
Called “Bethlehem Unwrapped,” the Dec. 23-Jan. 3 festival at St. James’s Church is held to draw attention “to the Barrier that affects every aspect of daily life” in Bethlehem, the church’s website said. The church erected a 26-foot replica of a walled section of the Israeli security fence outside Bethlehem and included several pro-Palestinian speakers in the festival’s program.
“The installation at St. James’s Church is grossly one-sided and extremely insensitive to countless victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks that were the reason the security barrier was built. The church has put much effort and expense into a stunt that misleads visitors with its partial representation of the conflict and does nothing to promote the cause of peace,” Michael Dickson, Israel director of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, told JNS.org.
StandWithUs is organizing daily protests at the church with U.K.-based pro-Israel groups including We Believe in Israel, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. Volunteers are leafleting during the festival events and “sharing the story of terrorism’s victims with visitors who are being denied this information by the church,” said Dickson.
A recent report by the watchdog group NGO Monitor accused several non-governmental groups and Christian charities of using the Christmas season to wage “political warfare” against Israel. These groups are “using theological themes to advance immoral anti-Israel campaigns, boycotts (BDS), and, in some cases, anti-Semitism,” NGO Monitor said in its report.