The activities and website of the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund (PCWF), an NGO based in the Gaza Strip, stand in strong contradiction to its humanitarian and moral goals. PCWF claims to be “non-political with purely humanitarian aspirations.” Its website proclaims “all individuals are welcome to join us and provide a helping hand to the children of Palestine and to give them a hope for a bright future full of promise and opportunities.” [www.pcwf.org]. The request for support notes “our donors and volunteers come from all walks of life and various faiths with the single goal of helping the innocent children of Palestine.”
These moral goals to provide for children in times of crisis are restated in their mission statement that defines the NGO's field of operations;
“...to improve the living standards of the children of Palestine in the refugee camps inside Palestine. The group aims to provide the children of the refugee camps with better educational opportunities, health facilities and a bright future without violence, hatred and discrimination… The group is a non-political, non-religious enterprise whose aspirations are purely humanitarian….” Source: PCWF website
This report reveals the extent to which PCWF's public actions, including its website, openly subordinate children's issues to extremist platforms and undeniably politicized objectives. The NGO does indeed provide important medical services, scholarships and educational material. However, as will be illustrated below, these services are conducted in a politicized environment inconsistent with its claims to be a purely humanitarian organization. This serves only to advance a culture of violence and hatred.
The organization largely supports itself by donations from individuals and the website includes a mechanism for choosing a child for sponsoring. Some 250 individuals and organizations are listed as donors from January to June 2003 alone. Over $40,000 has been raised in just five months largely from individuals but also groups including the Westminister Presbetarian Church, Austin, Texas and the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee. In addition, some $1,000 has been raised for a “Rachel Corrie Scholarship Fund.” The website includes a message board that actively encourages donations, as well as a charity shop.
In the following section, we will analyze four different sections of the PCWF website; (1) a drawing contest for small children, (2) a poetry section, (3) the message board, and 4) PCWF's links with other organizations.
1. Drawing Contest for children aged 6 to 14
The children's charity launched a drawing contest for young children between the ages of six and fourteen, entitled, Why I love Palestine. The judges rewarded, almost without exception, entries that featured fierce and violent hatred of Israel instead of addressing the actual theme of the contest. The overall winner was Bushra Ahed. The picture is unambiguously a replication of a bonfire, in the shape of a map of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, consuming the Star of David with the word “Israel” written inside the flag.
Another entry, that of Jihad Alajarmeh, depicted a Palestinian flag dropping flames on an Israeli flag and burning Israelis standing next to it.
The clear objective of the contest is to support the destruction of the Jewish State, and not to focus on the issues articulated in the mission statement.
Source: PCWF website
Another section of the website sells artifacts from Palestinian culture, such as traditional embroidery. Included in these items is a T-shirt with the following poem;
The youth will not get tired
Their goal is your independence
Or they die
We will drink from death
But will not be slaves to our enemies
We do not want
An eternal humiliation
Nor a miserable life
We do not want
But we will return
Our great glory
NGO Monitor believes that this poem is stands in stark contradiction to PCWF's mission statement, and encourages hatred rather than promoting the coexistence and understanding necessary for ensuring a better future for all children. With the campaign of suicide bombings and attacks coming from children as young as 15 this is a clear glorification of terrorism and indoctrinating children in the virtues of 'martyrdom.' This is far from PCWF's vision of a “bright future without violence, hatred and discrimination.”
At the same time, the website does not include any condemnation of violent attacks against Israelis. There is also no promotion of peace and dialogue.
3. Website Message Board
The PCWF website maintains an active discussion board. Instead of promoting a serious discussion of Palestinian children's issues, it has become a forum for radical agendas.
One message (http://server.scripthost.com/wwwboard?pcwf,display,52) uses the term “Palestinian Holocaust” to describe Israeli actions and goes on to argue that “It is very obvious to people that possess an open and clear mind, that Israel intends to implement a Greater Israel program against all of her Arab neighbors, a program which will enlarge the boarders of Israel, encompassing land just east of the Nile River, and extending clear all the way across Iraq.”
A second discussion board message offers the following equation,
“I give you Adolf Hitler, killer of jews
I give you Sharon, killer of Palestinians”
One can either justify this by the ignorance of those who write, or their prejudices. Either way, the content of these messages are clearly an infraction of the PCWF mission as a non-political organization and its basis for raising funds “with the single goals of helping the innocent children of Palestine.”
4. Affiliated Groups
The PCWF enjoys collaboration with other organizations. One of these is the Union of Health Workers Committees in Gaza. This organization in itself promotes a very political agenda as illustrated in the following press release:
“Emergency medical services, such as those run by the Palestine Red Crescent Society and a number of health NGOs have been particularly targeted. There have been 234 attacks on ambulances (around 11 every month), of which 109 ambulances have been damaged and 27 totally destroyed.” March 15 2003, Source
This press release charges the Israeli authorities with deliberate and consistent targeting of Palestinian health care workers and ambulances. No background information is offered on the exploitation of ambulances to transport terrorists into Israel despite the considerable evidence pointing to the transportation of suicide bombers in ambulances into Israel. The Red Cross produced the following press release, "The International Committee of the Red Cross is shocked and dismayed by the reports today of explosive material being found in a Palestine Red Crescent Society's (PRCS) ambulance. The ICRC condemns such abuse of an ambulance of the Red Crescent emblem....The ICRC observed how a device was taken out from a vehicle and detonated in the presence of a number of onlookers."
Press Release, 3-27-2002, International Red Cross, http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/
Nor is there any mention of the healthcare offered to Palestinians by Israeli army doctors, in areas under Israel's jurisdiction.
The organization also lists its working relationship with Rabbis for Human Rights. As reported by NGO Monitor 1.8, (27 May 2003) the membership of this organization has been divided between those who seek to concentrate on humanitarian issues and those who pursue a strong ideological and political agenda, based on one-sided condemnations of Israeli policies. Indeed, the split focused precisely on cooperation with highly politicized anti-Israel organizations such as the PCWF.
The Palestine Children's Welfare Fund has the potential and infrastructure to realize its mission statement to improve the standard and quality of living of thousands of Palestinian children. It has already provided hundreds of children and orphans with scholarships and medical care in times of crisis. However, these worthy goals are being undermined by the promotion of an atmosphere of hatred and violence. There is no humanitarian justification for publishing drawings by small children depicting the burning maps of the State of Israel. The T-shirt on sale with the poem alluding to martyrdom only helps to push Palestinian children deeper into more misery. The message board includes outrageous claims that reflect the propaganda of those wishing to pursue the conflict without end. On the basis of this evidence, one can conclude that this NGO raises its funds on false premises, and that its activities are a far cry from the purely humanitarian mission claimed in its mission statement.
How can an organization talk of non-political and purely humanitarian aspirations while promoting hate and covertly excusing terrorism? The answer probably lies in this anti-Semitic quote from its website, http://www.pcwf.org/books/marchbooks/marchbooks.htm (Link has expired)
“Let the world know about the " light of the nations" and their illegal and immoral acts to starve and humiliate the children.”
Like tens of other NGOs analyzed by NGO Monitor, PCWF is intent on propagating the delegitimization of Israel. NGO Monitor calls for more honesty in publication of mission statements and fundraising activities. The exploitation of important and universal humanitarian values, such as children's education and medical care, by advancing a partisan and ideological cause, undermines core human rights values, and contributes to the cycle of hatred dominating the Middle East.