“Evil shall kill the wicked; and they that hate the righteous shall be held guilty.” (Psalm 34:22)
The World Council of Churches’ annual World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI) wrapped up this weekend, and its tone was anything but peaceful. The commemoration, initiated by the WCC’s Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF), was held this year under the title “Let My People Go”, and focused on what it called injustices being perpetrated against “Palestinian political prisoners” in Israeli jails.
According to NGO Monitor, WWPPI started in 2010 as an “‘annual observance of a week of prayer, education, and advocacy’ that asks participants to ‘work for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, so that Palestinians and Israelis can finally live in peace’,” but produces one-sided, anti-Israel materials to support its themes.
This year’s theme, “Let My People Go”, besides borrowing cynically from the Jewish narrative of the Exodus from Egypt, demands the release of all Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, regardless of their involvement in terror or the severity of their crimes.
Documents prepared for participants in WWPPI 2014 allege Israeli “war crimes,” “torture,” “crimes against humanity,” “mass detention and imprisonment,” and “illegal and arbitrary detention”, but downplay or make no mention of the prisoners’ actions which landed them in Israeli jails. Among the prisoners being championed for release are those rearrested on new terrorist charges following their release in the Gilad Shalit exchange.
One such “political prisoner” named in the WWPPI literature is Ayman Sharawna. Sharawna, who was arrested in 2002 for his role in multiple terrorist attacks, including a bombing in Beer Sheva that injured 18 people. Following his release in the 2011 Shalit deal, he was rearrested for returning to active terrorism, but released again in 2013 after a prolonged hunger strike. Sharawna immediately announced his intention to return to terror, yet the WWPPI document lists his release as an “achievement”. It was two other prisoners released in the Shalit deal who kidnapped and murdered Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah this summer.
The WWPPI literature also contains several other distortions and outright inaccuracies. It accuses Israel of violating the rights of prisoners in conflict with the Fourth Geneva Convention, but, as NGO Monitor points out, The International Red Cross determined “these treaties do not sufficiently elaborate on the procedural rights of internees, nor do they specify the details of the legal framework that a detaining authority must implement. In non-international armed conflicts there is even less clarity as to how administrative detention is to be organized.”
As well, in 2012, the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe became the first major intergovernmental agency to define specific criteria for what constitutes a political prisoner. The criteria state “those deprived of their personal liberty for terrorist crimes shall not be considered political prisoners if they have been prosecuted and sentenced for such crimes according to national legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Finally, it claims “since 1967 about 750,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli forces.” Yet, no sources are cited for this figure, and NGO Monitor points out that within the pages of the very same document, figures which mathematically contradict this number are presented.