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 on Piccadilly is held to celebrate “the people of Bethlehem today and drawing attention to the Barrier that affects every aspect of daily life,” according to the church’s website.
For the festival, the church erected a 26-foot replica of a walled section of the Israeli security fence outside of Bethlehem and included several pro-Palestinian activists and speakers on its schedule.
“You should ask yourself: Is this act that we are promoting fair, honest? Does it represent the truth of the situation? Be in no doubt that Israel built a security barrier only after enduring a wave of horrific terrorism that left thousands dead and maimed for life,” Michael Dickson, Israel director of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, wrote in an open letter to the church.
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 are organizing daily protests at the church.
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.