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Blind Eye to Terror By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 05, 2006


The Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC), ostensibly representing 340 denominations globally, formally protested to the Israeli ambassador in Switzerland about the rock throwing of Israeli teen-age civilians.  But a Palestinian suicide bomb in Tel Aviv that slaughtered nine people did not merit even a WCC news release.

To be fair to the WCC, the rock throwing was aimed at the WCC’s own volunteers.  A Swiss lawyer, a German social worker and a Norwegian sociologist were attacked with stones in two separate incidents on April 1 and April 20.  The lawyer got seven stitches to the head, while the social worker and sociologist “sustained bruises but were not seriously injured,” according to the WCC.

Meanwhile, several days before the WCC registered its indignation with the Israeli ambassador, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up nine people and wounded several dozen others in a packed Tel Aviv restaurant on April 17 during the Jewish Passover holiday.  The young bomber was dispatched by the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad group.  Not surprisingly, the new Palestinian Hamas regime defended the bombing as “self-defense” against Israeli “aggression.”

 

Pope Benedict XVI condemned the Palestinian attack during a speech to crowds in St. Peter’s Square, calling it “abominable” and a “terrorist act.”  But the WCC evidently was too busy with its letter to the Israeli ambassador to take similar note.

The WCC was also very busy dispatching letters to donor nations urging them not to cut off cash to the Hamas regime.  Just several days before the Hamas-endorsed Tel Aviv suicide bombing, WCC President Samuel Kobia urged the European Union not to reduce aid to Hamas and to respect its “democratic mandate.”  In a similar letter, Kobia wrote Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others in February, Kobia insisting that like “any newly elected government, the new Palestinian Authority needs time to position and prove itself.” He urged “constructive patience” with Hamas and warned against “obstructionist policies” such as withholding funds.

“Hasty isolation of a government that includes Hamas over aspects of the movement’s past will further exacerbate the West’s already deeply scarred relations with the people of the Muslim world,” Kobia fretted, warning against “double standards” that favor Israel.  “We strongly condemn attacks perpetrated by Palestinian groups against innocent civilians inside the State of Israel and by the State of Israel and its defence forces inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” piously proclaimed.

The WCC is faithful to its recent history.  It ignored and sometimes even justified the persecutions of the old Soviet Empire.  It continues to ignore the oppressions and crimes of remaining Marxist regimes such as North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and China.  It will not criticize Islamist governments, even when they persecute Christian minorities.  Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians, whether real or distorted, are uniquely interesting to the WCC, which prefers to ignore human rights abuses by anyone but Israel or the United States, including by the Palestinian authorities against other Palestinians.

In March, the WCC organized its “International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel” advocacy initiative, which involved 50 international leftist church officials visiting with Palestinians to examine up close their mistreatment by Israel.  The activists visited a camp for Palestinian refugees, a village that has “experienced repeated attacks by Israeli settlers,” “communities affected by the separation wall,” and with people “who have been battling to save their land from settlement expansion.”  In typical WCC style, it was quite a balanced visit! 

"The main impact was to see vividly the severe problems that Palestinians are facing each day," said one US member of the WCC group. "Newcomers to the situation were in tears from what they saw. Members [of the group] who had visited previously were startled by how much negative change had taken place under the continuing occupation.”  The WCC news release about the visit did not record any concerns by the church visitors about the new Hamas regime.

A more constant presence among the Palestinians is the WCC’s “Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine.” It involves WCC volunteers from mostly Europe and the U.S. who “accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation.”  Basically, the volunteers serve as aids to Palestinian activists and left-wing Israelis.  Their exclusive focus is on the real and perceived misdeeds of Israelis while creating a “stronger global advocacy network” for the Palestinian perspective.   

The European sociologist, lawyer and social worker harassed by Israeli youngsters last month were volunteers with this “accompaniment” program.    According to the WCC protest letter to the Israeli ambassador, these volunteers were merely victims of Israel’s “practice of establishing, protecting and expanding settlements.”   The WCC demanded “concrete steps that lead to the complete withdrawal of all settlers from Hebron and return of settler-occupied properties to their Palestinian owners.”

Meanwhile, a 16 year old Florida boy, according to the last published reports, remains in serious condition at a Tel Aviv hospital.  He barely survived the April 17 suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv restaurant, a bombing that the Palestinian Hamas regime defended.  The 10 pound bomb sprayed nails and shrapnel against dozens of its victims.  The boy, along with his wounded father, was visiting family in Israel.   Although finally awake from a coma, the boy lost a kidney, his spleen and part of his right leg below the knee.

The Florida teenager, during his visit to Tel Aviv, was not accompanied by any of the WCC’s “Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme” volunteers, who occasionally suffer bruises and cuts in the course of their work.  Family members of the boy hope he will be able to return to Florida in six months.

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Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.


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