TEL AVIV – The World Council of Churches (WCC) officially endorsed the Palestinian “campaign for Jerusalem,” saying that Israel’s recent move installing additional security measures at the Temple Mount following a terror attack there was a “corrosive act in the midst of an already-fragile peace.”
“Keeping the historical status quo and supporting equal rights for Christians, Muslims and Jews at these holy sites is vitally important to maintaining peace and de-escalating violence,” said Fr. Ioan Sauca, acting general secretary of the WCC.
“Denying access to holy sites for thousands of people who have traveled far to pray is not only a violation of the rights of those individuals, but also a corrosive act in the midst of an already-fragile peace,” Fr. Sauca said.
Far from “denying access” to the Temple Mount, Israel decided to install metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site after Arab terrorists smuggled guns there on July 14 and embarked on a shooting spree that claimed the lives of two Druze-Israeli police officers. The Palestinian leadership, however, claimed the additional security measures were part of an Israeli attempt to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and called on all Muslims to take to the streets and riot.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center pointed out that security measures such as metal detectors are par for the course at religious sites all over the world, including Muslim holy sites. In 2015, Saudi Arabia introduced a range of new measures, including electronic bracelets, for Muslims making the Hajj pilgrimage to the religion’s holiest site in Mecca. The new restrictions were put in place after a would-be suicide bomber was captured. In response to an ongoing wave of Islamist terror attacks in Europe, major Christian sites on the continent, including, most prominently, the Vatican, have also bolstered security measures.
“The installation of metal detectors is taken for granted at the Vatican, at government offices, at every airport around the globe,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, SWC’s Director of Interfaith Affairs. “They were first made necessary when Palestinians internationalized terrorism decades ago.”
A statement from the SWC said, “If the WCC’s call to maintain the ‘status quo,’ i.e. free access without metal detectors, is heeded, it will be complicit in the shedding of blood in the future. If the WCC is truly interested in protecting the rights of all the prayers, they should denounce extremist protests and threats made against Istanbul’s leading synagogue, which has suffered two previous terrorist attacks.”
The WCC is renowned for its hostility towards the Jewish state, supporting “all non-violent efforts to end the occupation (including considering appropriate economic and other measures).”
Through its member groups, the WCC, which represents some 550 million Christians in 110 countries, oversees several campaigns aimed at delegitimizing the Jewish state, including organized tours of Israel with the purpose of gathering damning evidence of Israelis oppressing Palestinians. The WCC routinely makes charges of Israeli “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” “war crimes” against Palestinians, and “illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.”
The Church is also a chief endorser of the Christian “Kairos Palestine” document, which describes Palestinian terror attacks as “Palestinian legal resistance,” as well as theologically denying Jewish historical ties to Israel.