‘Israel is violent, apartheid’: Pro-BDS pastor appointed to lead World Council of Churches

Dr. Jerry Pillay, tapped to head WCC, urged Christians to “resist” the “ambitions of Israeli Jews.”

By World Israel News Staff

A Presbyterian minister who has repeatedly slammed Israel as an apartheid state and called Zionism a racist and violent movement was elected to head the World Council of Churches (WCC), sparking concern among Jewish advocacy groups and pro-Israel organizations.

The WCC represents 352 churches of various denominations and 580 million Christians  from 120 countries.

Dr. Jerry Pillay has compared Zionism to apartheid in his native South Africa, and called on fellow Christians to “resist the empirical ambition of Israeli Jews,” according to a JNS report.

In a number of public statements and letters, Pillay has expressed support for the BDS movement and insinuated that Christians should follow his example.

In 2016, Pillay bemoaned the “exclusionary and violent character of the Israeli Zionist project,” adding that the state was created via a conspiratorial “Jewish leadership” collaborating with European colonialists.

Pillay dismissed Jews’ historical ties to Israel, as well as a continuous Jewish presence for hundreds of years in the land, instead framing the modern state as a place where settlers abuse “the indigenous people of the land.”

Currently, Pillay is a dean at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and will assume his role as the General Secretary of the WCC in January 2023.

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“For too long… the WCC — while invoking its recognition of anti-Semitism as a sin in the aftermath of the Holocaust, which culminated centuries of Christian anti-Semitism — has been complicit in a predominant contemporary strain of anti-Semitism,” wrote David Michaels, B’nai B’rith’s director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs, in a Medium post shortly after news of Pillay’s appointment went public.

“That strain, responsible for fueling attacks against not just Israelis but often diaspora Jews, consists of singling out the world’s only Jewish state for vilification and discrimination, while turning a blind eye to the delegitimization, dehumanization and unending violence targeting the nearly half of the Jewish people who call Israel home.”

Michaels added that “the WCC has stigmatized Jewish nationalism but not Palestinian nationalism, encouraged punitive actions against Israelis but not their adversaries and demonized the Middle East’s only pluralistic democracy but not an array of the world’s most utterly vicious regimes.

“Now, the WCC has elevated Rev. Pillay, who is on record with especially strident, simplistic ideological extremism on Jews and the Jewish state,” Michael said.

“He will, of course, like nearly all those guilty of prejudice, deny this bigotry — even while discrediting Jews’ right, unlike other marginalized or beleaguered groups, to call out such animus.”