Campaigns In Atlanta And London Target Israeli Policy In Bethlehem » ADL Blogs
News & Analysis Focusing Primarily on Issues Affecting Israel
December 27, 2013 5

Campaigns In Atlanta And London Target Israeli Policy In Bethlehem

st-james-church-wall-bethlehem

St. James Church Wall

Right in time for Christ­mas, two cam­paigns have begun that demo­nize Israeli pol­icy in the West Bank city of Beth­le­hem, the birth­place of Jesus.

In Atlanta, Geor­gia, five elec­tronic bill­boards are cur­rently on dis­play for a two week dura­tion that depict Jesus’s par­ents Mary and Joseph being unable to gain entry into Beth­le­hem in mod­ern times because of Israel’s secu­rity bar­rier on the bor­der of the West Bank (the image was cre­ated by the artist Banksy). These bill­boards are spon­sored by If Amer­i­cans Knew (IAK), a vir­u­lently anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tion that has been run­ning anti-Israel bill­boards in cities across the United States over the past year.

In Lon­don, Eng­land, St. James’s Church erected a large dis­play out­side of the church to depict the secu­rity bar­rier that sur­rounds Beth­le­hem. The church’s rev­erend, Lucy Win­kett, claimed that the dis­play, which resem­bles the secu­rity wall in Israel, was designed to show passersby “what the peo­ple of Beth­le­hem are expe­ri­enc­ing today.”

The mock secu­rity wall out­side St. James’ Church is part of a fes­ti­val called “Beth­le­hem Unwrapped,” which is being spon­sored by the Holy Land Trust, a Bethlehem-based group that advo­cates for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel. The fes­ti­val will take place in Lon­don from Decem­ber 23, 2013 until Jan­u­ary 5, 2014. It will fea­ture, among other pro­grams, a com­edy show called “Stand Up Against the Wall,” a “Beth­le­hem Christ­mas din­ner,” and a debate titled “Both sides of the Bar­rier – Sep­a­ra­tion or Secu­rity?” which will fea­ture Jeff Halper, the founder of the Israeli Com­mit­tee Against House Demo­li­tions; Leila San­sour, a res­i­dent of Beth­le­hem; Yif­tah Curiel, the Pub­lic Affairs spokesman at the Embassy of Israel in Lon­don; and Alan John­son, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Britain Israel Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Research Centre.

Both the bill­board and mock wall dis­play delib­er­ately fail to account for Israel’s legit­i­mate secu­rity con­cerns. While IAK claims that their bill­boards, “will be seen an esti­mated 4 mil­lion times,” those who view the bill­boards will not receive any infor­ma­tion about why the secu­rity bar­rier was built and what it has done to thwart ter­ror­ist attacks.

Indeed, Israel’s secu­rity bar­rier was built as a defen­sive mea­sure that was first approved by the Israeli gov­ern­ment in 2002 to pre­vent Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists from reach­ing their civil­ian tar­gets inside Israel. Since it was built, there has been a sharp decrease in Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism – not because there have been no attempted attacks, but because the secu­rity bar­rier has impeded ter­ror­ists from reach­ing Israeli cities, or has forced them to take more cir­cuitous routes, lead­ing to their capture.

Although both cam­paigns seek to rein­force the point that Beth­le­hem has become inac­ces­si­ble because of the wall, thou­sands of Chris­t­ian pil­grims from around the world visit Beth­le­hem for Christ­mas Eve cel­e­bra­tions every year. This year was no excep­tion, accord­ing to news reports, the turnout was “the high­est in years.”

  • http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/revision Robert John Bennett

    When­ever I read reports like this, I GRIEVE for Israel and the Israelis.

    If noth­ing can be done to PREVENT this kind of anti-Israeli pro­pa­ganda, can’t Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions put up THEIR OWN bill­boards and mount THEIR OWN dis­plays some­where, in order to respond to things like that anti-Israeli dis­play out­side that church in England?

    This report hap­pened to arrive in my mail­box as I was watch­ing a video about the Holo­caust that was broad­cast here in Ger­many recently.

    I thought to myself: dur­ing World War II so many Jews just marched obe­di­ently into the gas cham­bers. And now are many Israelis obe­di­ently march­ing off to be smoth­ered by Islamist propaganda?

    Some­thing, some­how, some­where has got to be done.

    • mick

      Pales­tini­ans didn’t com­mit the Holo­caust but they are pay­ing for it .

  • J. Koss,MD FAAEM

    Israelis are not evil but their gov­ern­ment is. The prob­lem is no one looks at the Pales­tin­ian side. When one labels decency and con­cern for an oppressed peo­ple Islamist one blinds one­self and accepts one sided Pro­pa­ganda only. So they grieve for the Jews who sadly suf­fered but now pre­fer to ignore suf­fer­ing the Israeli gov­ern­ment imposes on the other side of that wall. It seems easy for those who for­get who is now the tor­menter and who is now caus­ing the suf­fer­ing of those human beings (also semi­tes by the way) in the Occu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries. I was there, on both sides of that wall. I was also in Berlin with its wall. The dif­fer­ence is shoot­ing is not occur­ring, just the lock out. That is why decent peo­ple are react­ing. SO STOP IGNORING IT! J. Koss,MD FAAEM

    • Jes

      Ok psy­cho MD, con­spir­acy the­o­rist, calm down. Dude I’ve lived there it’s not like Amer­i­cans think due to sever cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance and a mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the media. It was hell on earth before the wall was put up. My father grew up in a war­zone, it was in the mid­dle of the city. The Pales­tini­ans aren’t nor­mal Arabs, they believe in a form of Islam that is just the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of vio­lence and they are brain­washed to want to kill as small chil­dren. They would be just as happy to kill you as me. Once you jus­tify your exis­tence by killing humans or hold that ide­ol­ogy you lose your human­ity and become a dan­ger­ous ani­mal. Israel defends itself and its pop­u­la­tion, if you were an Israeli you would under­stand this, they chose to give up their human­ity and become tools for destruction.

      They have to be fenced in even­tu­ally they may have to be destroyed, This is the same fate that will even­tu­ally befall every national cult in this cen­tury due to the sec­ondary psy­chopath phe­nom­e­non (N Korea for instance may have to be wiped out because after three gen­er­a­tions this envi­ron­ment will cause dan­ger­ous genetic changes) it lit­er­ally becomes too dan­ger­ous to leave inter-generational brain­washed pop­u­la­tions alive. I would hon­estly get behind a law in the US to throw con­spir­acy the­o­rists in prison under the same prin­ci­pal. Unfor­tu­nately the sec­ondary psy­chopath phe­nom­e­non also known as foile a deux is the most dan­ger­ous ele­ment in our world, sim­ply because it has been left unchecked for 70 years.

      The Pales­tini­ans have rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the Israeli par­lia­ment. Their inter­est are rep­re­sented and even their lead­ers in par­lioa­ment acknowl­edge that the wall needs to stay up.

      Funny side not due to their larger mem­ory capac­i­ties and per­sonal biases it is actu­ally eas­ier to brain­wash smart peo­ple than dumb.

  • mick

    With­draw to the 1967 lines and state your bor­ders ! Israel has no right to tor­ture the remain­ing Pales­tini­ans any longer.