LONDON (JTA) – Israel’s ambassador to London added a diplomatic dimension to a row over anti-Israel carol singers at a central London church.
Two weeks ago, a group called “Jews for boycotting Israeli goods” performed at St. James’s Church in Piccadilly with its own version of Christmas carols, in which it changed the words of the familiar carols to lyrics referring to Israel’s actions in Gaza and the West Bank.
The performance drew huge criticism, and on Wednesday, the Ambassador Ron 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 also attacked the lack of strong condemnation by the Church of England leadership. "Only the ‘merry gentlemen’ of Hamas and its fellow extremists will take any ‘tidings of comfort and joy’ from this event," he said. "In Bethlehem, even if Santa Claus is coming to town, when he gets there, he’ll be met with a frosty reception by Islamic extremists."
He added: “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.”
Prosor went on to attack the head of St. James’s Church, saying, “It is saddening that Rev. Charles Hedley should have allowed the beautiful acoustics of his church to be abused to create such discord. If Hedley’s aim was to create harmony, he might have expressed a modicum of concern for the Israeli victims of terrorist violence.”
He also discussed the wider implications of the event. "Hedley’s decision undermines the hard work that has taken place to improve relations between Christians, Muslims and Jews. He should understand that interfaith dialogue, tolerance and open-mindedness are the way forward to brotherly love, and not the interfaith ranting and raving of the ‘carol service’ at St. James’s Piccadilly."