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Church holds anti-Israel Christmas carol service

You’re taking the Michaelmas…

    The Zionist Federation’s Jonathan Hoffman (right) is confronted by an angry carol service participant
    The Zionist Federation’s Jonathan Hoffman (right) is confronted by an angry carol service participant

    Dozens of protesters demonstrated outside a Baptist church which held a carol concert organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

    The service, entitled Voices of Bethlehem, was held at the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church on Monday.

    Protesters waved Israel flags and handed out flyers as more than 200 people attended the service, which included readings from playwright Caryl Churchill, whose play, Seven Jewish Children, caused controversy earlier this year.

    Protester Chas Newkey-Burden, who runs a pro-Israel blog, Oy Va Goy, said: “I feel that when a church backs an organisation that openly supports Hamas they have drawn a line. I feel everybody who supports Israel and British Jewry needs to counter this.”

    During the service, Samira Hassassian, former lecturer at Bethlehem University, said Palestinians were “living in a cage” and urged the community to be more vocal against Israel.

    A spokeswoman from PSC said: “I would like to thank the Zionists for increasing our sales figures and encouraging people to come. That was a tremendous help.”

    Meanwhile, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods has organised a second annual carol concert with its trademark alternative carol songs. Bethlehem Now: Alternative Lessons and Songs of Protest for Palestine will take place on December 8 at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden with the support of organisations including the interfaith Amos Trust, the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and the charity War on Want.

    The service will include new lyrics to traditional carols, including The Holly and the Ivy, which has been renamed The Olive and the Army and will include the lines: “O the rampaging of settlers/and the rolling of the tanks/the grinding of the bulldozers/as olives fall in ranks.”

    Organiser Deborah Fink, a Jewish ‘human rights campaigner’, said: “Our songs and readings will reflect the seldom-heard Palestinian experience since Israel was founded in 1948.”

    Participants will include Palestinian writer Ghada Karmi, veteran campaigner Bruce Kent, Baroness Jenny Tonge and Lauren Booth, and will feature a scene from the play Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea by Justin Butcher and Ahmed Masoud.

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