LONDON – Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor harshly slammed the Church of England on Wednesday for permitting an anti-Israel carol service with anti-Semitic content at a London church.
"The head of the church gave the stage to incitement which we hoped had passed from this world," he told Ynet.
The alternative service was held at the historic Wren church of St. James's, Picadily, in Central London about two weeks ago and included nine lessons and Christmas carols with new words.
The participants were a group of anti-Israel activists, most of them Palestinians and some Jews, who are urging a boycott of products made in the Jewish state.
One of the Jewish activists even volunteered to change the songs' words. The Times newspaper reported that the carol "Once in Royal David's City" was altered to say "Once in royal David’s city stood a big apartheid wall. . ."
The "Twelve Days of Christmas" was sung as "Twelve assassinations/11 homes demolished/10 wells obstructed/Nine sniper towers/Eight gunships firing/Seven checkpoints blocking/Six tanks a-rolling/Five settlement rings. Four falling bombs/Three trench guns/Two trampled doves/And an uprooted olive tree."
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After the event was publicized, Ambassador Prosor accused the Church of England and its heads of failing to sufficiently condemn the service.
"Unfortunately, the criticism from within the Church of England, that should have echoed with bold moral clarity, has instead sounded like a silent night, but far from holy," he told The Times.
Prosor added that the rector of St. James's, the Rev Charles Hedley "gave the stage to incitement of the kind of incitement we hoped had passed from this world, instead of encouraging understanding and interfaith tolerance.
"I intend to open a full frontal campaign against the Church’s decision to allow this event. These carols resemble the anti-Semitic blood libels by encouraging anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments. The Anglican Church is basically allowing the extremists to hijack its agenda," Prosor added.
"I, as the State of Israel's representative, view it as my duty to fight such phenomena. I know many people in Britain share my opinion and I call on them to speak out," he said.
Hedley did not condemn the event, but said he would reconsider allowing the service to be held in his church again after receiving dozens of complaints following the ceremony.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, was one of the few Christian leaders to have spoken out openly against the event, The Times reported. In a lecture at the London Jewish Cultural Centre yesterday, Lord Carey said that anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews still lurked beneath the surface in Christian circles in Britain.
Referring to the carol service, he said, "Such actions strengthen an anti-Israeli agenda, trivialize the political issues and nourish an anti-Semitic culture.
"This is not because it is wrong to criticize Israeli policy but because such campaigns single out Israel alone for particular opprobrium and censure it above regimes elsewhere in the world which are genocidal in intent and oppressive to the extreme."
Ambassador Prosor told The Times, "It was appalling to see a church allow one of its most endearing seasonal traditions to be hijacked by hatred." He added that if Santa Claus turned up in Bethlehem this Christmas, he would receive a "frosty reception" from Hamas extremists.