Absolute moral squalor on display at a London church

3 January 2014

‘Did Israel spoil Christmas again?’ I only ask because the claim that they did is becoming a modern tradition in Britain.

The softest and most commonplace expression of the claim comes from those vicars or congregation members who claim that they find it ‘hard’ to sing ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ nowadays because of how dreadful the situation in Bethlehem is today compared with how little, still and dreamlessly sleepy it was back in Jesus’s time.

This Christmas I had already attended one church which perpetuated this new conceit. And earlier this week I went to the church of St James in Piccadilly, which has made anti-Israeli propaganda its signature dish in recent years.

The central London church has previously hosted events where opponents of Israel go to sing versions of carols which decry the Jewish state. But this year they have outdone themselves by building a replica of the security fence which Israel built in order to successfully stop a spate of suicide-bombings carried out by Palestinian terrorists. The London church is made almost invisible by the replica ‘barrier’ and this is meant to represent the way in which Bethlehem today is ‘cut off’ by the security fence. The ‘installation’, surrounding exhibition and events is called ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped.’

As it happens, I have seen much of the real security fence, passed through the checkpoints many times and been to Bethlehem and most of the rest of the West Bank. I have spent time talking with Muslim and Christian Palestinians. So I also turned up in London, spent some time looking around, read the displays and the graffiti people are invited to write on the wall, and spoke with volunteers from the church. All in all I would say that a morning spent there is a good way to understand one modern variant of absolute moral squalor. Only made worse by the fact that the volunteers think they are doing a good and moral thing.

Three things particularly stood out.

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First – the visitor is invited to believe that all the problems of Bethlehem’s Christians today stem from Israel’s security fence. There was absolutely no mention of the fact that the reason why the Christian population of Bethlehem has declined so rapidly in recent years is not because of this but because the Christians are being gradually cleansed from their historic homeland by Muslim Palestinians. I have spoken with Christian Palestinians and heard their stories myself. And even if St James’ didn’t care about this little human fact, if they were so concerned about the holy places of Bethlehem it is strange they find no place to highlight Islamic desecration of Christian holy sites. Such as the occasion in 2002 when Islamist gunmen holed themselves up in the Church of the Nativity, desecrated it, defiled it and damaged it in ways which can still be seen today.

Second – St James’ seem distinctly unbothered by who they ally with in their anti-Israel hate-festival. A member of the St James’ congregation who I spoke to assured me that she thought all their partners had been properly vetted. Yet one of their ‘partner organisations’ is ‘Interpal’, an organisation which is designated as a terrorist entity by the United States. (However, it should be noted that Interpal rejects that designation entirely, and that no allegation of terrorism has been proved against it in the UK.)

Yet the greatest moral stink emanating from St James’ is caused by something else. It is this. In every country in the Middle East other than Israel Islamic extremists are currently chasing out, murdering, persecuting and otherwise ‘cleansing’ the native Arab Christians. Indeed as the historian Tom Holland said recently, our period of history appears to be witnessing the extinction of Christianity in the region which gave it birth.

As it happens, Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose Christian population is actually growing.

I asked a member of the congregation who was a volunteer about this. She said that one shouldn’t really single out individual cases. Yet that is exactly what St James’ have done. I asked if at any point in the past or at any conceivable point in the future St James’ might highlight the persecution and murder of Christians in every country in the Middle East other than Israel? For instance in Syria? Or Iraq? Or Egypt? If St James’ are bored with the Middle East why not highlight the massacres of Christian communities in Pakistan? Or Nigeria? Or in almost any number of other countries I could name. I was told this is unlikely. And I am sure it is.

It is utterly disgraceful that St James’ church has presented this partial view of Israel while ignoring the plight of their co-religionists. Here are some festivals we are very unlikely to see taking place at St. James’s Piccadilly anytime soon.

A festival set up to highlight the victims of suicide-bombings which murder Christians while leaving church in Pakistan.

An installation — ‘Borno Unwrapped’ — commemorating the 12 people killed last weekend (whilst ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped’ was going on) in two Christian villages in northeast Nigeria, including the eight Christians murdered by Islamists at a wedding reception in Tashan-Alede village.

A small event organised to condemn the savagery which led Islamists in Iraq to plant three bombs at churches and other Christian areas in Iraq on Christmas Day, and which murdered 37 people as they were celebrating the birth of Jesus

I have been trying to get hold of Lucy Winkett, the Rector of St James’. But she does not appear to be available.

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Show comments
  • David and Marlene Ball

    We have lived in Israel for 5 years. Perhaps members of this church should take time to have a look for themselves. See why refugees fleeing from neighbouring states seek refuge in Israel. After asking a few, why? Their answers were “because it is the only democratic country in the Middle East’. They will see the so-called “apartheid” state consists of Jews and Arabs working side by side, whereas in Bethlehem all Christians have been forced out. Their Churches are controlled by Muslims who take tour groups of Christian pilgrims around collecting rewards for themselves!! The hyprocracy is so blatant because they know that people (who hate Jews) will always and are happy to go along with the charade.

  • Scott Birch

    Why the reluctance to call it a ‘wall?’ I have no horse in this race, but I do wonder.

  • Vincent Verne

    Truly disgusting piece of work. You Sir are a very dangerous apologist for the Israeli crimes and state organised terrorism.

  • e. brrok

    Thank you for this article, maybe there is hope after all to see some truth coming from Christians finally.

  • Will Traurig
  • Xan Sillem

    Please sign the petition to stop the Israel Hate campaign by the Church of England:

  • zchug

    “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” – George Orwell

    Also worth pointing out that any such festival that Douglas Murray proposes would be shut down pretty quickly as an incitement to hatred/islamophobia/etc etc. Never mind getting it for breach of planning and heritage regulations.

  • George Smiley

    Yet Douglas Murray is silent on the continued mad Israeli subversive scheming for an Iran War, which would surely flood the shores of England with millions of Iranian Mohammedan refugees and asylum-seekers.

  • Vincent Verne

    Douglas Murray – you sir have a seriously distorted view of humanity. This is one seriously demented pile of garbled phrases and meaningless assertions – all for a few shekels. Shame on you.

  • peter b

    The Christian churches seem to appose the Israeli occupation.

    The writer above implies that Christians in Palestine are all being butchered by Palestinians. More hasbara.

  • peter b

    Far from feeling persecuted by muslims, it is the Christian churches in Palestine that ask for initiatives to help expose the Israeli occupation and the aparthied.… ,

  • peter b

    The Judeo Facists just can’t stand that civil society, in this country, and elsewhere is waking up to Israel’s aparthied and cruelty towards the Palestinians.
    Which is why, like this article, they rubbish and belittle. It’s the only thing they have left.

  • peter b

    If the wall was designed for ‘security’ and not to subjegate why not build it in Israel?
    Why does it have to divide Palestinian communities and make their life difficult?

  • Trapnel

    Is the good vicar an intersectional feminist? And if so, is she perhaps guilty of the racism of low expectations where Palestinians as the wretched of the earth can not be held to account for their actions?
    In the spirit of neighbourly fellowship we should pray for her poor afflicted soul in the hope that she will repent of her wicked ways.

  • Terry Field

    Good stuff; modern liberal English leftie clerics are really truly nauseating – totally partial, waspish, hypocritical and simply untruthful on a huge range of contemporary issues. They put up a smokescreen of garbage that they dare you to reject in their little stone isolation chambers once known as churches, anti-semitism being only one of their little games – I do so, and piss them off, but my Christianity does not require me to respect these freeloading disguised New Labour sleazeballs in dog-collars.
    God will subcontract their correction to the man with the forked curly tail for not learning economics and understanding the bible other than via the Moscow schools of Materialist Interpretation.

  • logdon

    More enlightenment here

    London “Peace” Festival Organized by Terrorism Advocates

  • FrankieThompson

    The, almost demented, hatred of Israel which now pre-occupies large sections of what was once called “the left”, really is a case study in itself.

  • jmjm208

    The Christian Palestinians were better protected under Israeli occupation than under hamas dictatorship.

  • zanzamander

    May I take this opportunity to wish Lucy Winkett, the Rector of St James’ and her supporters the worst New Year of her entire life, or is it just not too Christian of me, old boy?

    • cba

      I would like to wish Lucy Winkett and her supporters a change of heart. May her heart and her mind be opened to the evil she is doing, and may she be turned from hatred to understanding.

    • Terry Field

      I would bet money she does not actually believe in the existence of God, immortal souls, the resurrection and the real possibility of eternal life through the salvation of Jesus. I bet its all touchy feely careful language tambourine codswallop and soggy ‘feeling spiritual’ now and then.
      I bet she is in fact a home office employee in colourful get-up.

  • Rami de Lieme

    The only reason the Palestinians say they suffer is for prpaganda reasons. abas and his ministers are banking millions of Euro’s and Dollars and love their suffering game.
    The Palestinians never had it better than since Israel freed them from Jordanian occupation. The only mistake was made by Sharon leaving Gaza and turning it over to the terrorists of Hamas. Thats why it is still a mess there.

    • zanzamander

      Palestinians are rotting in camps in surrounding Aran countries. To this day no other Muslim country has accepted them as one of their own and granted them citizenship. They’re treated like dogs by other Arabs, not given jobs, welfare or education in any neighboring countries, except Israel.

      • Terry Field

        Any one who has spent time in the Moslem Arab world knows just what a social disaster most of it actually is.

  • Roy

    Shameful that Mosques should sprout like an infestation of giant toadstools while the churches of the country have to be walled-in for protection. One symptom of many that tell us the country is under siege. The heavy propaganda machines have done a good job in duping the population to the wrong causes. The English, through the media blanket machine are now the defenders of evil that is taking us over, rather than protectors of freedom we used to defend with vigour.

  • BradD99

    For those of you who don’t know this, the BDS movement wants to erase Israel from existence. The BDS movement is not a peace movement. It does not call for Israel to hand land to Palestinians and for Palestinians to stop trying to blow Israelis up and for peace to develop. The BDS movement supports discrimination against innocent professors, innocent musicians, innocent artists, innocent scientists, innocent writers, innocent businessmen, innocent EVERYTHING as long as it’s against Israeli Jews. They want Israel’s “occupation” to end yet they don’t call for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc. to stop trying to destroy Israel. Further, and more importantly perhaps, the BDS movement calls for millions of Palestinians to flood into Israel, specifically so Jews in Israel become the minority, specifically so Arabs/Muslims become the majority, specifically so Israel isn’t a Jewish state anymore, and the new majority can use “democracy” to vote Israel out of existence and turn into another Arab state. That’s the whole BDS goal. That’s why BDS is only supported by extreme-left radicals, bigots, Jew-haters, a small handful of people who claim to be Jewish yet want the world’s only Jewish state destroyed, pro-Hamas Arabs, etc.

  • David Prentice

    By ignoring the forest of the Christian genocide in Africa, the Asian sub-continent and the Middle East, and focusing on the mote of the sins of the only democracy in the Middle-East, the Church of England continues to expertly and energetically further the work of its true master, the father of lies.

  • Michael Sager

    I live on the road between the centre of Jerusalem and the centre of Bethlehem. I assume that Joseph and Miriam would have passed this way on their donkey.
    These false Christians of St James are wrong. Yes, there is a barrier on the road. It separates two states, Israel and Palestine. And I can assure them that this barrier is much easier to pass though in both directions, than say, border control at Heathrow. There’s even a bus every 15 minutes that happily goes between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and stops outside my house!

  • Newcombe

    In an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Melanie Phillips writes:

    You surely do not need me to tell you that this anti-Israel bigotry in your church – going far beyond St James’s, Piccadilly – is infused by a revival of the ancient Christian calumny that the Jews have forfeited God’s love and all the promises he made to them on account of their refusal to believe in Jesus, as a result of which they were to be considered in league with the devil.

    This terrible doctrine of ‘supersessionism’, which was responsible for centuries of Christian persecution and mass murder of the Jews, has become resurgent in recent years through the influence of Palestinian Christians who have attempted to rewrite the Bible as a lexicon of hate to further the cause of Palestinianism. To that end, they have attempted to airbrush the Jews out of their own history, while seeking to appropriate the Christian story itself by depicting Palestinians as suffering the torments of Jesus.

    Spot on!

    • Daniel Maris

      Mel is guilty too often of peddling the official Israeli line e.g. that “true” Islam is a personal religion that has no political implications. However, on this I support her. The focus on Israel-Palestine to the exclusion of all other land disputes is motivated by atavistic anti-semitic urges whatever Loopy Lucy says.

    • zanzamander

      Christian persecution and mass murder of the Jews, has become
      resurgent in recent years through the influence of Palestinian

      I’d say it (the modern persecution and mass murder of Jews) was equally down to the resurgence of Islam in Europe and thereby universal acceptance of antisemitism/Jewhate contained within its doctrine that predates the creation of modern Jewish state – almost to the founding of Islam.

      I’d say the Church (Christians) has found an ally in Islam. Now they can be openly antisemitic and nobody can say anything, because lets face it, if they want to stamp out Jewhate, they’d need to ban certain core passages of Koran itself! To me they’re both the same anyway – Christianity and Islam – after all, Jesus to Muslims was a Muslim and a prophet.

      I say this not being a Jew myself. I don’t want Christians to think, “oh look there goes another Jew mouthing off about Islam and Christianity”. I do not want to add even more antagonism towards Jews than what exists already.

      In fact, I’m sure there are many Jews who’d welcome the St. James’ stance against Israel. So please, go easy, after all there’s not that many Jews left in Europe anyway, and soon, thanks to Christianity and Islam, there’ll be none.

  • Donafugata

    The hilarious thing about fanatics like Lucy Winkett is that being a female cleric, supposedly a Christian, will guarantee her punishment when the Islamists get their way.

    Perhaps I will visit the wall and leave a special message for Rev. Lucy.

  • Peter Stroud

    I suppose one dare not suggest that these established churchmen are just Anti Semites.

    • James

      Ahem. Churchwomen, for the most part.

      However much of a sexist I may be, you must give credit where it is due.

      Sisters are doing it for themselves.

      • Penny

        There’s a comment here on this blog by a male vicar, James. I daresay it will stand out from the others.

        The brothers probably exceed the sisters in this respect. But what do I know? I’ve just got a head full of fluffy kittens!

  • fromisrael55

    The wall was built against Palestinian terror and their huge and systematic car theft industry. Both were significantly reduced after it.

    The wall is in fact surrounding Israel, not Palestinians as it does not changes in anything their possibility of going to Jordan, yet we Israeli are forbidden to enter Palestinian territory.

    What this has to do with Christianity is beyond me.

  • Xan Sillem

    Altruism is destroying our society

  • London Bella

    they should keep the wall for next year and call it ‘Sinai unwrapped’ to criticise the giant wall the Egyptians are building between themselves and Gaza; you know, in place of the heavily patrolled electric fences……

    i wonder how many years until european cities will have walls protecting people from Muslim communities

  • Zimbalist

    It’s moral relativism in action; people in our society are now so brainwashed with Leftist ideology that they cannot discern the truth anymore.

    Further, a perfect example of how the faddish C of E is making itself irrelevant.

  • Scradge1

    Socialists have infiltrated the hierarchy of many Christian denominations. The left obviously sees Islam as a kindred spirit. After all both of their ideologies are based on hatred, death and an overwhelming sense of superiority.

  • Fritz Wunderlich

    More on the extremist background of “Bethlehem Unwrapped”.

  • theviewfromisrael

    The wardens of the infamous St.James’s Church in London’s
    Piccadilly hosted an obscene anti-Israel exhibition called “Bethlehem
    Unwrapped”. It portrays Israel’s essential security barrier as an evil
    act of intended brutality. This is a lie.

    In truth, the exhibition should have been called “Bethlehem
    Unravelled” as it has ever since Israel withdrew from this town.

    Lucy Winkett was forced to write an article in
    response to the rising voice of protest. In it she calls the exhibition a part
    of a “beautiful resistance.” Resistance to what? It can’t be
    to Israeli “occupation.” Israel handed over control of Bethlehem
    to the Palestinian Authority way back in 1995. They have a city council elected
    by residents of Bethlehem. They can vote in Palestinian elections should the
    Palestinian Authority ever decide to impose democracy. So, no, Bethlehem is not
    occupied by Israel.

    I have earlier written about the threatening Palestinian oppression against the Christians of Bethlehem, the vast majority of whom have already fled the town.

    But let me give you breaking news that puts a true picture to the important
    security barrier.

    During Christmas, Israeli security forces arrested 14 members of an Islamic
    Jihad terror cell based in Bethlehem.

    This cell was responsible for the December 22 bus bombing in
    Bat Yam, Israel. During the arrest raid, a huge 20 kg bomb was discovered in
    the Bethlehem home of one of the terrorists. The intended target was to be a
    location in Tel Aviv.

    Among those arrested was a terrorist that had been released from Israeli
    custody. Another was on a Palestinian police commanders course. A third worked
    inside Israel.

    Is it any wonder Israel maintains its security barrier despite it being so
    criticised and demonised by St. James’s Church?

    Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem is funded and supported by Iran. It could not
    function without the approval of the Palestinian Authority, the same PA that
    stores explosive Cemtex and weapons in its embassy in Prague that killed their
    ambassador in a work accident.

    Is this part of the “beautiful resistance” of Lucy Winkett, the
    wardens and clergy, of St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, London. If so, shame
    on them for their moral blindness!

    Barry Shaw
    Founder of the Netanya Terror Victims Organisation.
    (formed to assist those suffering from the results of
    Palestinian terror).
    Netanya, Israel.

  • Teacher

    Surely it can’t be permissible to disfigure a Wren building in the heart of London in this way? A wall around an architectural gem? What do the planning laws say?

  • John of Kent

    By allowing its churches to be used for blatantly non-religious political purposes at this time of year, the Church of England confesses to the world that it is no longer a living religion but a fossil from a vanishing past. Has a spokesman for Lambeth Palace replied here? Or Ms Winkett? Of course not. Their silence is shameful.

  • Eddie

    Try visiting one of the African churches in London – then you’ll see real hate-mongering, often intertwined with a mumbo-jumbo juju-ism that permits exorcisms of children identified by dodgy preachers as ‘witches’ – and some pay the price via the awful ‘mutu’. Of course, nothing is done about such things because the hatemongers and perpetrators are not white or British – a dark skin and a religion will let you literally get away with murder in today’s Britain.
    Yes, I know the hypocrite hatred of Israel from the left that has appeared in recent years like an awful stinking toadstool growing on the sphincter of Islam and political correctness. These ignorant people should read the Hama manifesto and realise that the ‘Palestinians’ they so adore are utter fascists who would hang gays, oppress women, execute all Jews/Christians/ex-Muslims, and are really not the cuddly Islamo-teddies these misguided so-called ‘liberals’ think they are. If you REALLY want to be open-minded, tolerant and liberal, then you should support Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East, which protects the rights of Jews and non-Jews (incl Arabs) by law (proper law, not dodgy sharia) within its borders.

  • James

    Ah yes, wimmin vicars. Now I understand.

  • Schlock Doctrine

    You can’t parody Islam, says Palin

    “There are people out there without a sense of humour and they’re heavily armed.’ ”

    • Daniel Maris

      Yep. He’s a coward.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    On reflection , such walls are quite idolatrous..whilst pretending to protect members of the public from one another. Better to let people roam about freely to avoid the stress of being cooped up and/or targeted like lambs for the slaughter. Then people can just move away from rough areas if and when they like.

    • Teddy Bear

      You stupid woman – if you are a woman. I wonder if it was your family that was being blown up by suicide bombers that you would still want to see them ‘roaming about freely’. ‘Rough areas’ as you call it was anywhere in Israel at the time.

    • Fritz Wunderlich

      “Better to let people roam about freely to avoid the stress of being cooped up and/or targeted like lambs for the slaughter. ”

      Like in this murderous case?

      Maybe you like to live under such conditions or even prefer this to the current political frame.

  • ShirlinOz

    Read this and you can see where she is coming from.
    If you’ve read her piece in the Guardian she feels she is taking the ‘middle ground’!

    **Bethlehem Unwrapped is about ‘beautiful resistance’, not taking sides**

    • Daniel Maris

      Never trust Hurry Up Harry – their banner is a lie.

    • Daniel Maris

      She’s just a naive ninny. By saying –

      “We support the state of Israel’s right not only to exist but to flourish
      as a member of the international community within secure,
      internationally recognised borders”

      she earns the contempt and hatred of 1.5 billion Muslims.

      How is Israel supposed to flourish when so many people seek its destruction?

      If Muslims were prepared to accept Israel’s right to exist then the matter could be settled within 10 years. If necessary Israel would be boycotted and would have to accept withdrawal from the West Bank.

      But that is not where we are. We are in a situation where millions of people are working actively to eradicate Israel, and evict or exterminate the Jews in Israel. No decent person can go along with that.

  • Justin Levene

    I have tried to talk to them, even pointing out history and fact that they refuse to accept, instead they base their views of non-truths and altered history.
    In my opinion it just boils down to anti-semitism and an excuse to persecute a Jewish state.
    The facts are mentioned in the middle of my blog, and looking at the real facts, what other justification could you have for entirely blaming Israel?

    • Daniel Maris

      I agree – however many layers of justification thrown on top of this policy, it comes down to “we are going to focus our attention on this ONE SINGLE land dispute, out of all the hundreds of land disputes around the globe.” Why hasn’t Loopy Lucy devoted huge resources to highlighting the Kosovo/Serbia dispute, or the Nigeria/Cameroons dispute or the Bolivia/Chile dispute or the UK/Argentina dispute, or the Mexico/USA dispute or the Azerbaijan/Armenia dispute or Western Sahara or the Iraq/Kuwait dispute or the islands dispute between China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea or the Japan/Russia dispute over the Kuril Islands or the Kashmir dispute or the Belize/Honduras dispute…shall I go on?

      But no, they choose, quite deliberately, to focus nearly all their attention on this one small land dispute.

      There can be only one explanation for that – and I think it is anti-semitism unconscious perhaps.

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