Exposed: Church BDS activists enter Israel on tourist visas to avoid detection


Christian Empowerment Council leader: Activists distort Christianity to promote an extremist agenda. “I will continue to work toward exposing any organization or program that claims to be Christian while working against the State of Israel, the safest place for Christians in the Middle East.”

By Yair Altman


An investigation by the Christian Empowerment Council revealed that one of the better-known boycott, divestment and sanctions groups is engaging in illegal activities in Israel, and Israeli authorities appear to be completely oblivious to the phenomenon.

Father Gabriel Naddaf led the investigation into the Christian BDS activists – Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel, which is run by the World Council of Churches, has been active in Israel since 2002. The council is one of the biggest proponents of divestment from Israel.


As part of the program, around 80 Christians arrive in Israel every year — around 1,000 have arrived up until now — on tourist visas, to monitor the activities of Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria by filming and blogging about them, and then going on to lecture in campuses all over Europe.

Volunteers undergo meticulous training in dealing with security forces and documenting their encounters with them before arriving in the country. Volunteers then use these encounters to accuse Israel of harassing Christians in Jerusalem, planting weapons on the bodies of terrorists killed in attacks, preventing Christians from visiting the Temple Mount, provoking Christians by allowing Jews to visit the Temple Mount and massacring Palestinian children. The activists also tend to blame “the American Jewish lobby” for silencing any opposition.

From their investigation into the EAPPI, which began in February of 2015, the CEC found that the activists arrived in Israel on tourist visas and not volunteer visas, as required by law. These BDS activists violate their tourist visas by masquerading as tourists.

The Zionist Foundation for Israel and the DMU organization joined the investigation into the EAPPI’s activities in Israel in recent months. The right-wing My Israel movement joined the investigation in June.

Father Gabriel Naddaf, the leader of the Christian Empowerment Council and the spiritual leader of Aramean Christians in Israel, said, “I will continue to work toward exposing any organization or program that claims to be Christian while working against the State of Israel, the safest place for Christians in the Middle East, and tries to weaken it in the face of terror in the region, uses the Christian religion, rewrites history, harms real coexistence, the Christian-Jewish relationship in Israel and around the world and ratchets up anti-Semitism.”

He went on to say, “The Christian world should know exactly who is behind the mask and distorting Christianity in order to further an extremist agenda.”

Father Gabriel Naddaf confronts BDS with pragmatic guide. – Photo: FACEBOOK

In a statement, Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority said, “If someone entering on a tourist visa does not raise suspicions, there is no reason to deny them entry.”

The police said, “The Population Authority is the body entrusted with distributing entry visas to Israel. If it is not brought to the police’s attention that this or that tourist is problematic, there is no way for the police to know what they are doing inside Israel.”

Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Hayom, “No normal country would allow activists encouraging the boycott of that country to enter and operate freely, and here, too, we will do everything in our power to stop this reprehensible phenomenon in the coming months.”

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