The Independent London Newspaper
23rd April 2019

‘Go to hell!’ Peace carols under fire

    Zionist Federation and Council for Christians and Jews outside the church

    Protests against church service opposing Israeli policy towards Palestine

    THE rector of a West End church was warned he would “go to hell” in a series of hate emails sent in the build-up to a controversial carol singing concert.
    The Reverend Simon Grigg said he had endured a “nasty week” but was pleased so many people had “braved the lobby” of Israeli demonstrators outside St Paul’s the Actors’ Church.
    Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG) – an organisation of Jews opposing Israeli policy towards Palestine – staged its annual parody of a traditional Christmas carol service in the church on Tuesday night.
    They sang carols with names such as “Away and in Danger” and the “Olive and the Army” reworded with provocative lines drawing attention to the conflict in Gaza.
    More than 200 people – including Cherie Booth’s sister, journalist Lauren, political activist Bruce Kent, writer Ghada Karmi and Baroness Jenny Tonge – had entered the church to a hail of abuse and chanting from members of the Zionist Federation and Council for Christians and Jews.
    Revd Grigg said: “It has been an interesting few days and a tough time. But C’est la vie. I am immensely grateful to all those who have come here tonight to be hear together.”
    He read a prayer calling for peace in Jerusalem and “for all who are living under occupation tonight”.
    Baroness Tonge, the outspoken Lib Dem peer who was sacked for sympathising with suicide bombers, said: “I think the carols have been written beautifully.
    “I think the people outside have betrayed the Jewish people. It is not kosher.”
    Lauren Booth, who went to a Catholic school with her sister Cherie, read a poem by Palestinian poet Rafeef Ziadeh.
    Ms Karmi read the prologue from her book In Search of Fatima – A Palestinian Story and CND activist Bruce Kent read the Palestinian Psalm 23, by Dr Stephen Leah.
    Outside the church, police officers flanked the demonstrators. One member said: “It is totally obnoxious to tamper with the words of carols in order to vilify Israel.”
    Organiser Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi told the congregation: “There is a company outside the church that are trying to brand us as anti-semitic. That is simply not the case.”
    Actors performed a scene from Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea where the names of dead civilians are read out.
    More than £1,600 was raised for the Free Gaza Movement, a conflict resolution centre, Wi’am and Interpal.

    F-16s! Reworded carols

    (To the tune of We Three Kings)
    Star of Israel, weep in shame,
    Star adorning tanks that maim.
    War, oppression, dispossession,
    You Dishonour David’s name.
    (To the tune of Ding Dong Merrily on High)
    Ding Dong merrily on high
    The F-16s are winging.
    Drones appear from out the sky
    Their deadly cargo bringing
    (To the tune of Away in a Manger)
    Away and in danger, no roof over head,
    Their homes were destroyed in Operation Cast Lead,
    The bombs in the bright sky, rained down where they lay,
    And for three hundred children ‘twas their very last day.


    Why did the Church exclude the BBC?

    If Simon Grigg is so proud to have hosted Jews singing carols with words doctored to vilify Israel, why did he refuse to have the BBC record in the Church?

    If Simon Grigg is so proud of having Tonge (”The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips"), White and Lauren Booth , why did he not want the BBC to spread the Good News?

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