Christmas celebrates the birth of a Jewish boy to Jewish parents in Bethlehem. With no sence of irony, the Swiss-based World Council of Churches (WCC) convened over two dozen church women in Bethlehem to rally against today’s Israel just in time for Christmas. Having come to “Palestine” to “listen,” the women fulfilled their assigned mission of endorsing Palestinian liberation and urged the WCC’s several hundred denominations around the world to “embed the Palestinian struggle against oppression” throughout the WCC’s global ecumenical mission.
Convened in collaboration with the “Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum,” the WCC event for women commemorated the one year anniversary of “Kairos Palestine,” in which senior Palestinian Christian clerics issued their own theological justification for resisting the “occupation.” Christians comprise a tiny percentage of overwhelmingly Muslim Palestinians. There are countless places around the world where Christians and others live under some sort of “occupation.” But these other occupations rarely interest the WCC. The Palestinian struggle uniquely arouses the Religious Left because it mobilizes opinion against Israel. The few remaining Palestinian Christians, who doubtlessly denounce the “occupation” for reasons of both conviction and self-preservation, are convenient props for the international Religious Left’s anti-Israel preoccupation. Absent Israel, groups like the WCC would have as much interest in Palestinian Christians as they do Christian minorities elsewhere in the Middle East.
The WCC church women who gathered in Bethlehem right before Christmas were activists and clergy from around the world. Predictably, they mourned about their brief exposure to Israeli checkpoints and the “Separation Barrier.” They purportedly came primarily to “listen” to indigenous Palestinians, as listening is a “mark of solidarity.” The Palestinian voices these church women heeded doubtless did not disappoint and gave them all an ear full. Armed with all the resentment and bile they were commissioned to collect, one WCC official has promised: “We shall not be silent.” Undoubtedly they won’t.
In their subsequent public pronouncement, the WCC’s women of Bethlehem bewailed they would “never forget the concrete humiliation and suffering that we witnessed at the Bethlehem checkpoint at the Separation Wall on the way to Jerusalem,” nor ignore the “dehumanizing” impact of this “inhuman situation.” Weary of “peace talking,” the WCC’s women are now adamantly ready for “peace making.” They affirmed “non-violent resistance” to the “occupation,” without specifically condemning violent resistance. And they readily affirmed “boycott” against Israel as legitimate resistance. They also notably declined to affirm Israel’s right to exist. In fact, they never mentioned the name of Israel, perhaps viewing it as untouchable. “Whether the solution is one state or two, the occupation must end,” they revealingly declared. Nor, of course, did they define what exactly is “occupied.” Is it only the West Bank and Golan? Or is all of Israel somehow an illegitimate “occupation?”
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