Carol service discord stuns vicar

A vicar whose church hosted an alternative carol concert for an anti-Israel group has admitted that he would have to “think hard” if asked to host a similar event in the future.

The Reverend Charles Hedley, rector of St James’s, Piccadilly, was criticised by both Jewish and Christian groups following the performance on Wednesday last week.

The service was organised by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBIG).

Mr Hedley said he had not anticipated the consequences. “I have been quite horrified at some of the responses. Some think I am saying Israel has no right to exist, which I am not,” he said.

“The boycott of Israeli goods was not mentioned at the concert and it’s certainly not something I would support.”

Among the carols was a rewrite of The Twelve Days of Christmas in which Ehud Olmert was said to have sent “12 assassinations” and “nine sniper
towers”.

Mr Hedley said: “The re-writing of the Twelve Days is the one I am most concerned with.

“What lay behind the decision to host the concert was the sense that, here was a group, and maybe I have got it wrong, that was publicising some of the other stories that you do not hear.

“While I totally understand the need for security, there’s another side of the story which does not get heard so much.”

    Last updated: 4:07pm, December 4 2008