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December 27, 2013

Campaigns In Atlanta And London Target Israeli Policy In 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.”

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December 12, 2013

Anti-Semitic Christmas carol about burning Jews sung on Romanian TV

A Romanian public television channel broadcast a Christmas carol with virulently anti-Semitic lyrics.

During the December 6 live broadcast, a Romanian folk ensemble, Dor Transilvan, sang the Christmas carol whose lyrics included, “A beautiful child was born / His name was Jesus Christ / All the world worships Him / But the kikes / Damn kikes / Holy God would not leave the kike alive / Either in the sky or on the Earth / Only in the chimney as smoke / This is what the kike is good for / To make kike smoke through the chimney on the street.”

ADL’s affiliate in Romania, MCA Romania, wrote to President Traian Basecu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta, calling on those responsible for such anti-Semitism broadcast on state television to be held to account.   The letter noted that no one reacted to the anti-Semitism and the show’s host said at the end of the performance: “Thank you very much for the carol! Thank you very much for the carol!”

MCA Romania also pointed out that several months prior, state-owned Radio Romania had broadcast a program that praised Romania’s Nazi-allied WWII leader Marshal Ion Antonescu and the anti-Semitic Legionnaire Movement and included a Holocaust denial statement.

On December 11, Romanian Public Television Channel 3, which had broadcast the Christmas carol performance live as part of its show on winter religious traditions in Romanian villages, issued an apology, expressing “deep regret” for the carol with “anti-Semitic expressions.”

On December 12, Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean said, “I publicly express my legitimate expectation that the relevant institutions, the National Audiovisual Council (CNA), the National Council against Discrimination (CNCD), the General Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the specialized committees of Parliament will take the necessary measures and investigate, punish and prevent” such situations.

The National Audiovisual Council subsequently fined the TV station 50,000 lei, about $15,500.

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