By Dexter Van Zile, Israel Hayom—
Yusef Daher is the executive secretary of the Jerusalem Interchurch Center (JICC), an ecumenical peacemaking institution supported by the World Council of Churches. Daher is no peacemaker, however. He is instead an ideological and theological combatant in the ongoing effort to delegitimize the Jewish state. He uses his status as a Christian to reach out to his co-religionists outside the Middle East and encourage them to think that Israel is always at fault for the ongoing conflict between the Jewish state and the Palestinians. In Daher’s version of the conflict, the Palestinians are innocent sufferers who are in no way responsible for violence in the Holy Land.
Daher is one of the authors of the Kairos Document, issued in 2009. This text is notorious for declaring that the occupation is a “sin against God” and at the same time portraying Palestinian violence as a “legal resistance.” The double-standard is obvious and undeniable.
During the past few years, Daher has used his Facebook page to lionize Palestinian rock throwers and has displayed a picture of Jesus on the cross kicking an Israeli soldier in the rear end (with a foot that has some how freed itself from the nail). More recently, he has posted an image lamenting the recent death of Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, who smuggled guns for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Daher has also taken to Facebook to laud George Habash, a Palestinian Christian who led the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the organization responsible for the 1972 Lod Airport massacre.
The fact that Daher is a rank propagandist who legitimizes Palestinian violence and invokes Christianity to demonize the Jewish state should come as no surprise. Many Palestinian Christians promote hostility toward the Jewish state under the guise of peacemaking.
What is shocking, however, is that the World Council of Churches has not distanced itself from Daher’s anti-Israel polemics and continues to support his work in Jerusalem, without any real effort to hold him accountable for his postings on social media. Despite being alerted (via numerous messages on Twitter) to the hostility exhibited on Daher’s Facebook page, the WCC has not prevailed on him to take the images down. The JICC is a creature of the WCC and with a word, it could tell Daher to remove the posts or face losing WCC support.
The WCC is an umbrella organization of approximately 350 Christian churches. Founded in 1948, the same year the modern State of Israel was established, the WCC has gone through the motions of condemning anti-Semitism, but has supported anti-Zionist activism and polemics for most of its existence, particularly through it support for activists from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine Israel. EAPPI activists, whose view of the conflict is similar to Daher’s, are notorious for gathering images and narrative of Israelis behaving badly and broadcasting them to their churches in Europe and North America.
By broadcasting a narrative about Israeli intransigence and Palestinian innocence, the WCC and its activists in Israel have helped legitimize violence against Israeli citizens.
The WCC may be starting to take notice of the problem. In mid-January, Daher posted a link to an article on a well-known fake news site that falsely reported that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin stated that what Israel has done to the Palestinians is worse than what the Nazis did to the Jews in Europe.
To his credit, Daher deleted the link soon after news of his posting hit the internet. And after he deleted the link and apologized for posting a link to the false article, a WCC employee praised him for removing the article from his Facebook page, saying that accidents happen and that his decision to delete the link did Daher “honor.”
Not so fast.
Daher has been assailing Israel’s legitimacy for a long time — while working on the WCC’s dime. Until Daher and the WCC turn over a new leaf and stop using their status as peace activists as cover for the efforts to demonize Israel, Israeli citizens have every reason to view the organization with suspicion and doubt its intentions.
The WCC got its bad reputation in Israel the old-fashioned way — it earned it. Now it’s time for the organization to repent and stop using the cloak of peacemaking to provide cover for anti-Israel propagandists in the Holy Land.
Dexter Van Zile is a Christian media analyst for CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.