Tag Archives: Bethlehem

Israel’s “beautiful resistance” to suicide bombers: A response to St James’s Church Rector Lucy Winkett

St James’s Church’s Rector Lucy Winkett’s defence of her church’s installation of a replica of Israel’s security wall in a piece for The Guardian is a legal and moral failure.

First the legal side. She states that Israel’s wall is “illegal under international law”. It is incredible that so many non-lawyers (and a few actual lawyers) state this with such ease when there is little proper evidence of such “illegality”.

Rector Winkett is relying on the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. A frame repeatedly projected on to St James’s Church’s replica wall states “In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague stated the Wall was illegal and it should be dismantled.”

But an advisory opinion is just that; advisory and an opinion. It sets no legal precedent.

Even if Israel’s wall was “illegal” there is the legal argument of self-defence. If I used illegal means to stop someone killing me I would be guilty of nothing more than self-defence. In parallel with this Israel’s wall has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers killing Israeli civilians.

There are legal opinions for and against Israel’s security wall, but for Rector Winkett to declare the wall “illegal under international law” makes a mockery of her claim in The Guardian that “we are not ‘pro’ one side or another”.

On the moral side Rector Winkett derides as “irresponsible” those who claim “we are aligning ourselves with those who support the Holocaust, suicide bombings or that we are antisemitic”.

But Rector Winkett’s wish for Israel’s security wall to come down will encourage suicide bombers sent by the likes of Islamist terror group Hamas to resume their murder of Israeli civilians, including those living on the West Bank, which the building of the wall has successfully disrupted.

The Hamas Charter specifically calls for the murder of Jews, so, yes, Hamas does support the Holocaust, suicide bombings and is blatantly antisemitic.

And then there are the organisations that St James’s Church has expressly aligned itself with for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Rector Winkett writes that St James’s is supporting “a peaceful Palestinian principle known as ‘beautiful resistance’; expressed in theatres, music projects…”.

Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust, might believe in “beautiful resistance” but that doesn’t exclude a belief in violence. Awad is on record as saying that such non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.”

Incidentally, all net proceeds from Bethlehem Unwrapped go to the Holy Land Trust. (That is should there be any net proceeds, the cost of the 12 day replica wall installation being an incredible £30,000.)

Meanwhile, recent news footage shows Interpal’s primary trustee Essam Mustafa with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

And War On Want and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a movement that campaigns for Israel’s destruction.

Rector Winkett writes in her Guardian piece that all viewpoints are listened to without exception and that visitors have been allowed to write a prayer or message of peace on the wall and that anything offensive has been immediately removed. She also writes that most conversations have been respectful.

Sadly, many have not been. A woman going in to St James’s Church for Bethlehem Unwrapped’s comedy evening responded to a question about the Holocaust with “What Holocaust?” A supporter of Israel was called a “friggin Jew” and “quenelle 4 ever” appeared on the replica wall (see middle of replica wall below written in blue):

wallquenelle

Rector Winkett also writes that people have written “this wall saves lives”. However, this was subsequently changed to “this wall enslaves lives”.

Bethlehem Unwrapped is not a respectful project however much Rector Winkett is trying to convince us. It mocks Israel’s valid attempts to keep both Israelis and Palestinians alive. Palestinians cannot now be sent as suicide bombers by Hamas.

And it fails to recognise even the possibility that the main problem for Bethlehem’s Christians is not the security wall at all but intimidation by Hamas similar to that carried out by Islamists elsewhere.

Moreover, St James’s Church’s Bethlehem Unwrapped festival has attracted antisemites, Holocaust deniers, those campaigning for the destruction of Israel and those who condone violence to that end.

This may not have been St James’s Church’s intention but this is what has happened and for this Rector Winkett should apologise to Britain’s Jewish community which is bearing the main brunt of the backlash.

The biggest irony is that St James’s Church itself is protected by a security wall; a tall metal fence that contains a locked door. When the door is unlocked it is heavily guarded. Some may call this a checkpoint.

St James’s Church is, understandably, protecting itself from anyone harbouring ill feeling towards it and who may be inclined to carry out an atrocity similar to those carried out against Churches in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt by militant Islamists.

Israel is doing the same.

(This piece was originally posted at CiFWatch)

Advertisements

St James’s Church’s replica of Israel’s security wall cost….£30,000.

Take a look at the above photo. That is what £30,000 looks like. That is the cost of St James’s Church’s replica of Israel’s security wall according to St James’s churchwarden Jo Hines.

Hines said the money was all privately raised, presumably from the likes of vicious anti-Israel charity War On Want, Amos Trust, Holy Land Trust, Interpal, Jews For Justice For Palestinians, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, P21 Gallery, Tipping Point North South, Zaytoun CIC all of whom are “associated with” Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Last night it was the turn of Jewish comedians Ivor Dembina, Dave Cohen and Andy Zaltzman to go on stage for Bethlehem Unwrapped, which is pretty ironic seeing as one of their audience members was Jane Green, probably a pseudonym, who is a notorious Holocaust mocker. As she went in to the church last night I asked her what she thought of the Holocaust to which she replied “What Holocaust”.

Then, of course, there is this clip of a discussion outside St James’s Church where a supporter of Israel is called “a frigging Jew” (see from 4 mins. 15 secs.).

All pretty disturbing stuff especially in the week of Nicolas Anelka’s alleged reverse Nazi salute.

When I put it to Hines that the £30,000 could have been better spent feeding the homeless and heating the elderly she responded that that argument could also be made in relation to statues and that there are 20 or so homeless people sleeping in St James’s Church at night.

Imagine had St James’s Church’s courtyard, where the replica wall stands, been made into a structure for the 12 days where even more people could sleep, be fed and be kept warm. Churches, I thought, were in the business of looking after the poor and caring for the elderly.

After the 12 days of Christmas are over the replica wall is due to be taken down. That amounts to a cost of £2,500 a day. At least a statue usually stays up for the long term so over time its daily cost is minimal.

So what is St James’s Church’s replica wall going to achieve? St James’s Church states “All net proceeds to the ‘Future Peacemakers Appeal’, Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem.” I’d be amazed if there are any “net proceeds” when you take into account the £30,000 cost of the replica wall. Admittedly, chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s friday night £125/head “Bethlehem Feast” could make inroads into the £30,000.

For British Jews the replica wall and Bethlehem Unwrapped are a disaster. I agree with Melanie Phillips when she states that its inevitable effect will be “to incite hatred against Israel and all who support its defence”, which means even more vigilance at synagogues, Jewish schools and Jewish events.

Some will benefit though. Ottolenghi and his chef partner Sami Tamimi and Dembina, Zaltzman and Cohen will have had their faces and names plastered all over the gates of the Church which looks out onto one of the busiest roads in London. Not forgetting Justin Butcher, Geof Thompson, Dean Willars and Deborah Burton who all helped to design the replica wall (see below).

In the end the £30,000 cost of the wall could have been donated to help those that St James’s Church, Piccadilly, really claims to care for: the people of Bethlehem.

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, installs life size replica of Israel’s security wall during 12 days of Christmas.

The life size replica wall at St James's Church, Piccadilly for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

The life size replica wall at St James’s Church, Piccadilly for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, in London’s West End has installed a life size 8 metre tall/30 metre long replica of Israel’s security wall in its courtyard as part of its Bethlehem Unwrapped festival. The replica wall is so vast that it obscures the Church itself.

The replica wall will be lit up at night and for the next twelve days of Christmas (until 5th January) a montage of images and slogans will be continuously projected onto it. Scenes include parts of London with a wall passing through it.

What you won’t see projected onto the replica wall are scenes of bombed out Israeli buses, hotels, pizza restaurants, bars and nightclubs that were ubiquitous in Israel before the wall.

Bethlehem Unwrapped has evening events with anti-Israel polemicists including comedians Jeremy Hardy and Ivor Dembina, musician Nigel Kennedy, columnists Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Mark Steel, Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and War On Want’s in-house poet Rafeef Ziadah.

Maybe Ivor Dembina will reprise his notorious Holocaust “joke” in which he mocks the Jewish people for wanting to hog the Auschwitz limelight. According to Dembina Jews don’t really want others to know that gays, gypsies and the disabled were also murdered at Auschwitz because we like to see it as “Ourschwitz, not Yourschwitz”.

Had someone made a joke about, for example, Srebrenica they would rightly be excluded but Dembina, host of the Hampstead Comedy Club, is one of the star turns at Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Or maybe poet Rafeef Ziadah will reprise her praising of Islamic Jihad chief Khader Adnan. Adnan, you may recall, is keen to incite Palestinians to become suicide bombers and blow up innocent Israeli children.

Unbelievably, into this political hatefest have stepped the supposedly “non-political” chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They will be hosting the “Bethlehem Feast” at the church on Friday January 3rd.

Last night’s unveiling of the replica wall was introduced by St James’s Church Rector Lucy Winkett.

Rector Winkett said the reason behind the replica wall was that when 20 of them visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in October “one of the lasting memories of our time there was this wall” (see clip).

It is a shame Rector Winkett didn’t also visit the graves of Israeli children murdered by Palestinian suicide bombers or Israelis left disabled by them.

The microphone was then handed to Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions who left those who made it to the church despite the dreadful weather conditions in no doubt as to what the next twelves days of Bethlehem Unwrapped had in store. Halper has previously expressed his wish to boycott Israel out of existence.

Last night Halper described Israel’s security wall as a “very deadly barrier that people cannot pass” and said “this wall is not built for security…it doesn’t protect Israelis in any way”. He continued “the wall defines the borders of the Israeli bantustan that is being created for Palestinians in an apartheid state…it defines those cantons in which Palestinians will be confined” (see clip below).

I understand that there are due to be a couple of last minute voices putting Israel’s case at the panel debate with Halper “Both sides of the Barrier: Separation or Security?” on January 4th but it is a drop in the ocean when compared to what is taking place over the entirety of the festival.

During the festival members of the public are being invited write on the wall. The address of St James’s Church is 197 Piccadilly. It’s very close to Piccadilly Circus tube station. Feel free to head away from the sales for a few minutes to balance out the hate and the lies. But take a good pen with you.

This replica wall has possibly cost thousands of pounds. There have been designers, architects, curators, materials, scaffolding and a team of builders. With mouths to feed and people freezing to death in this country alone it is shameful that St James’s Church, Piccadilly, has squandered so much on what is nothing more than an anti-Israel propaganda exercise.

Other Photos from last night:

St James's Rector Lucy Winkett and replica wall curator Justin Butcher singing "oh Little Town of Bethlehem" last night.

St James’s Rector Lucy Winkett and replica wall curator Justin Butcher singing “oh Little Town of Bethlehem” last night.

Justin Butcher with the replica wall's architect and its designer last night.

Justin Butcher with the replica wall’s architect and its designer last night.

Some of the projections on to replica wall until January 5th 2014:

DSCF4848

DSCF4850

DSCF4851

DSCF4852

DSCF4853

DSCF4854

TravelPalestine advert banned by ASA.

The Advertising Standards Authority has deemed it “misleading” for TravelPalestine to advertise Jerusalem as part of Palestine. The same potentially applies to Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and Gaza, which were also mentioned in this TravelPalestine advert:

TravelPalestine advert (click to enlarge).

TravelPalestine advert (click to enlarge).

The advert drew 149 complaints which challenged the advert on three grounds:
1. Palestine was not a recognised country.
2. It was misleading to describe Palestine as being between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River, when Israel is also there.
3. It was misleading to suggest Jerusalem was part of Palestine.

The complaints were only made after this advert by the Israeli Tourist Board had to be withdrawn after complaints that Israel was misleadingly advertising Jerusalem:

Israel Tourist Board's advert.

Israel Tourist Board's advert.

In their Final Adjudication the ASA responded to the three grounds as follows:

1. Not upheld – The advert did not claim that Palestine was a recognised country and, so, was not misleading.

2. Not upheld – Not misleading because the description “between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan Sea” did not suggest the whole area was Palestinian-administered territory.

3. Upheld – The status of Jerusalem is in dispute. “From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jerischo, Nablus and Gaza…Palestine lies between…” was misleading because these cities are not universally accepted as being part of Palestine (the latter five cities were not the subject of the current complaint).

The ASA ordered that the advert must not appear again in its current form and that future adverts must not suggest that it was universally accepted that locations were part of Palestine when they weren’t.

It is a shame it came to this. Jerusalem is an increasingly impoverished city for all the people that live there.

Jerusalemites desperately need tourism but we now seem to be at the ridiculous juncture where neither Israel nor the Palestinians can advertise Jerusalem. Not only that but, unprompted, the ASA went further by making it difficult for TravelPalestine to advertise ANY of the cities that the Palestinians are claiming!

It just goes to show that those who try to tear down Israel will only be tearing down the Palestinians as well. But then again, as we know, most of them don’t really give a damn about the Palestinians. It’s the Jewish state, stupid.

Israel cannot advertise this!

Israel cannot advertise this!