BDS IN THE PEWS
YMCA - East Jerusalem
February 25, 2015
- Website: www.ej-ymca.org
- Founded in 1949 “in a tent in Aqabat Jaber Refugee Camp near Jericho.”
- According to its website, the EJ-YMCA is “committed to a unique vision of community based on the universal values of human dignity, peace, and justice. Through diverse programs and activities with a focus on holistic youth development, the YMCA aims to work toward the building of a viable Palestinian state based on equality and social justice for all.”
- Claims to be an “integral part of the Palestinian social movement… Within the context of oppression and Israeli military occupation, the YMCA is a beacon of hope for Palestinians throughout the West Bank.”
- Member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and a service provider of the ACT Alliance regional council, Act Palestine Forum (AFP).
- Funding: Neither its website nor its annual report lists funding information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
- Donors are listed inconsistently on project pages. According to available information, donors include: Christian Aid and European Commission, ECHO and Save the Children, and Dan Church Aid. In addition, as a “service provider” of the Act Palestine Forum, EJ-YMCA receives funding to implement ACT Alliance emergency appeal projects.
- YMCA was a partner organization, together with B’Tselem and BADIL, on a Dan Church Aid project, funded by ECHO (EUR 1,305,400 from July 1, 2012 for the duration of one year) “to increase the Area C population’s access to water, resources, and services necessary for sustaining communities and preventing forced population transfer.”
- Political Advocacy: Promotes demonizing rhetoric, BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) campaigns, and the Kairos Palestine document, which denies Jewish historical connections to the land of Israel.
- Engages in international advocacy and together with the YWCA of Palestine founded the “Joint Advocacy Initiative,” which “works for Peace with Justice in Palestine, based on Humanitarian and Christian Values, by mobilizing the world movements of YMCA and YWCA, churches, church-based organizations, UN agencies, and other relevant organizations to influence decision-makers and prompt actions that contribute to end Israeli occupation and all its violations of International Law.”
- The JAI “networks with local advocacy organizations, runs the Olive Tree Campaign, promotes the Kairos Palestine document and the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) Campaign, to enhance international advocacy work with partners and activists.”
- The JAI also organizes “advocacy visits and trips,” geared specifically for an international audience, to “make them witness land confiscation process by the Israeli government, the apartheid wall, settlements construction and expansion…”
- In 2013, a JAI participant reflected upon her experience saying: “...this is NOT a conflict. This is a genocide, one that is funded by the U.S. and other international governments. This is a genocide that uses a settler strategy to steal land and to justify the imprisonment, torture and deprivation of an entire group of people.”
- The JAI together with the Alternative Tourism Group published a 2012 report, Life Under Occupation - An Introduction to the Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which provides historical inaccuracies, refers to the security barrier as the “apartheid wall,” and promotes a Palestinian right of return, meaning the elimination of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- Co-signed an August 5, 2014 open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, under the headline “stand for law and Justice or resign!,” expressing “extreme disappoint[ment] by your performance, notably by your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of IHL, which amount to war crimes.” The letter alleges that his “statements have not only allowed the continuance of Israel’s killing our people, but also, encouraged States to continue providing Israel with impunity.”
- EJ-YMCA runs the Free Palestine Campaign in response to what it claims is “‘routine’ Israeli occupation policy, movement restrictions, harassment, destruction of YMCA property, and even random arrests.” The program aims to “to provide reliable and accurate information about the history and present reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to mobilize local and international organizations to work in solidarity with us to promote justice and peace and to bring about an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.”