Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA)
|In their own words||“We educate North Americans about children in the region and the brutal impact of US foreign policy on their lives.”|
- In FY 2020-2021, total income was $8.5 million; total expenses were $5.6 million.
- Donors include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Open Society Foundation.
- In 2016-2023, MECA received $430,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for its “Creative Palestinian Communities Fund,” a “funding and support model that incentivizes civic engagement, funds creative solutions, and raises social capital among communities and grassroots organizations across Palestine.”
- In 2020-2022, MECA received $400,000 from Open Society Foundation to “support artistic, cultural, and agricultural projects that will incentivize civic engagement and generate local development solutions which will advance education and promote social welfare in communities across Palestine.”
- MECA was the fiscal sponsor for International Solidarity Movement -USA. In 2009, donations for ISM’s campaign to “interfere with the construction of the annexation barrier” were to be made to “MECA (ISM-USA Fund).”
- The Middle East Children’s Alliance’s (MECA) stated goal is to “educate North Americans about children in the region and the brutal impact of US foreign policy on their lives.”
- MECA organizes delegations to “Palestine/Israel” where participants can “witness the impact of the Israeli occupation and…learn about refugees, land confiscation, political prisoners…” Trip highlights include learning “about the origins of the Palestinian refugees and the Right of Return, and how it can be implemented.”
- In June 2009, MECA raised $75,000 for British MP George Galloway’s “Viva Palestina” convoy “following the massacre in Gaza.” Viva Palestina was shut down by the UK Charity Commission in 2012 due to the Commission’s “continuing concerns about the charity’s financial management and its outstanding annual accounts and returns” and eventually ceased to exist in September 2016.
Demonization of Israel
- MECA rhetoric includes accusations of “genocide,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “collective punishment,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.”
- In February 2023, MECA called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to “Uphold Palestinian rights. Stop Israel’s impunity now. Dismantle Israeli apartheid.” According to MECA, “Palestinians are currently facing apartheid Israel’s most racist, far-right government. Israel’s long standing policies to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people…are advancing rapidly.”
- In February 2023, following UC Berkeley’s student government’s vote against the adoption of IHRA, MECA stated, “it’s important to take time to celebrate our victories working for freedom & justice and against apartheid, occupation, and racism in all their many forms.”
- The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by nearly 30 countries and counting, represents the international consensus definition of antisemitism, as well as how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. An example of the latter includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- In May 2022, MECA drew false equivalencies between Russia/Ukraine and Israel, stating that “It was so easy to call Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an aggression and ask to boycott Russia, while Israel has been committing the same crimes for the past 74 years with no accountability whatsoever.”
- In February 2022, MECA published a press release defending a report published by Amnesty International accusing Israel of apartheid. According to MECA, “This report is a strong weapon for everyone fighting for Palestinian human rights, and joins decades of documentation produced by Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations on the apartheid policies of the Israeli state…This is Apartheid! This is the continuous ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and this is settler colonialism.”
- In January 2022, MECA co-sponsored a webinar titled “Restoring our Environment: The struggle to heal a land degraded by occupation and colonization.” The webinar discussed the “catastrophic environmental impact of Israeli settler colonialism on the land of Palestine.”
- In November 2021, MECA was a signatory on a statement condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the statement, “As funders invested in human rights, we refuse to be silenced or intimidated. We conduct thorough due diligence processes in our grant-making, including accompaniment of projects. Our funding decisions belong to our boards and our conscience, not the Israeli Defense Department.”
- In April 2021, MECA endorsed US Congresswoman McCollum’s proposed legislation meant to advance BDS and demonization of Israeli companies and defense forces.The entirety of the proposed bill is premised on factually inaccurate claims from anti-Israel advocacy NGOs, including direct quotes from DCIP’s “No Way to Treat a Child” 2016 report and website.
- In April 2021, MECA welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a formal investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the “State of Palestine.” According to MECA, “This is a long-awaited and a critically important step towards ensuring the rule of law and ending impunity, while ensuring accountability for Israel’s crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.”
- In November 2020, MECA endorsed “World Without Walls,” a campaign started in 2017 that has drawn comparisons between “Israel’s apartheid wall on Palestinian land to the US wall of Shame on indigenous land at the border with Mexico.”
- In June 2020, in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests, MECA published a blog titled “MECA Stands with the Movement for Black Lives – statement and resources” that stated, “There is increasing solidarity between African Americans and Palestinians…As we stand with the movement for Palestinian liberation, we stand today and always with the Movement for Black Lives and Liberation.”
- Was a signatory on the “#DroptheADL” campaign.
- In May 2020, MECA Executive Director Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch wrote an article claiming “the Nakba has never ended. The Zionists have never abandoned their plan to get rid of Palestinian completely and to confiscate all Palestinian land. This is the essence of settler colonialism. Wherever Palestinians live, Israel continues to threaten their future, and now this is exacerbated by the current situation. Palestinians in East Jerusalem face ethnic cleansing every day.”
- In February 2019, MECA launched “Teach Palestine,” a curriculum for “bringing Palestine into our classrooms and schools.”
- In August 2018, MECA was a signatory on a statement to “Stop the Ongoing Nakba [and] Defend Khan al-Ahmar” from demolition as this “demolition cements part of the Zionist entity’s larger plan to realize Greater Jerusalem as “Israeli” territory and as the undivided capital of the Zionist state.” The statement called for an “end to aid to the Zionist entity in its genocidal, ethnic cleansing project, an end to demolitions, and an end to the construction of more colonies” (emphasis added).
- In May 2018, Mona El-Farra, the director of Gaza projects for MECA, participated in the “Palestinian Freedom Conference: Overcoming the Ongoing Nakba,” which discussed how “In late 1947, colonial Zionist paramilitary forces began the process of ethnically cleansing more than 750,000 Palestinians…70 years later…in Palestine a process of ongoing ethnic cleansing via occupation, colonisation, apartheid, and cruel siege continues apace, with no intervention from the international community.”
- In April 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, MECA called for people to “show your solidarity” and join the “Transnational Great Return March” as “There will be no solution without the total end of the Zionist colonization of Palestine–return is our right, and demand: we will return! Palestine will be free!” MECA ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
- In March 2017, MECA sponsored the “Shoruq Debka & Hip-hop US Tour,” which featured lyrics “written by people in the camp [Dheisheh refugee camp] and reflect their desire to return home and to document their lives under Israeli occupation.” One member of the troop equated their rapping to throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, “Throwing stones at soldiers is a way of expressing yourself, a way of unleashing your frustrations…When you throw a stone at a soldier, you are demanding a better life. And when we discovered hip-hop, we used that same energy that used to draw us to the streets to throw stones.”
- In November 2016, MECA hosted Noura Erakat on the topic of “How Israel Expanded Its Use of Force and Diminished Palestinian Resistance.”
- Noura Erakat is an assistant professor at George Mason University and former legal campaigner for “US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation,” where she “helped seed BDS campaigns” and facilitate “lawfare” cases against two former Israeli officials in US federal courts for alleged war crimes. Her writings have accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing.” While a student at UC Berkeley she spearheaded a divestment campaign along with Students for Justice in Palestine. Erakat is also the U.S.-based Legal Advocacy Consultant for highly politicized Palestinian NGO BADIL.
- On July 29, 2015, MECA sponsored a “Congressional briefing” titled “Gaza One Year Later: The Quest for Accountability,” to “examine Israel’s misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons in Gaza and call on lawmakers to hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. and international law.” The briefing featured speakers from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (formerly known as US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation), Adalah, and Defense for Children International- Palestine (DCI-P).
- MECA was a sponsor alongside Jewish Voice for Peace, Amnesty International, Interfaith Peace Builders, and Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) for Bassem Tamimi’s 2015 U.S. speaking tour. Tamimi, a promoter of BDS, is known for his involvement in violent confrontations with the Israel army and has posted antisemitic content on social media. During this tour, Tamimi spoke to a class of third graders about the suffering of the Palestinians. Following the event, the Superintendent of the school district stated that Tamimi’s remarks were “skewed, inflammatory.” In March 2016, the U.S. government cancelled Tamimi’s visa for lying on his application form, specifically for “failure to expose prior arrest and conviction.”
- MECA founder and Executive Director Barbara Lubin wrote, “I think that the Jewish State is racist to the core.” Lupin refers to the 1948 “ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population” and wrote that “[t]he concept of ‘Jewish morality’ is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else.”
- In January 2013, Lubin was a signatory on a statement titled “Jews for Palestinian Right of Return,” which stated that “relentless ethnic cleansing continues- armed and financed by the U.S. and its allies,” and discussed how “Israel inflicts particularly brutal collective punishment.”
- In 2012, MECA sponsored an art exhibit titled, “A Child’s View from Gaza,” with displayed numerous art pieces created by children who “witnessed the destruction of Operation Cast Lead…Israel’s December 2008/January 2009 attack on a virtually unarmed Gaza.”
- The Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland decided to cancel the display of the exhibition, due to what MECA claimed was a “concerted effort by pro-Israel organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area to pressure the museum to reverse its decision to display Palestinian children’s art,” as the exhibit “contained numerous violent images depicting a politically biased view squarely and exclusively against Israel.”
- In April 2011, Barbara Lubin was a signatory on a statement alleging that apartheid is not an “inaccurate term to describe the conditions in Palestine,” and discussing the “continuing ethnic cleansing of occupied East Jerusalem,” the “apartheid wall,” and the “institutionalized racism of the State of Israel.”
- In 2010, MECA art director Jos Sances created a billboard campaign stating “From LA to Palestine Clean, Drinkable Water is a Human Right.”
- In February 2023, MECA, as part of the “Plant a Tree” campaign, called for “exposing the JNF propaganda as greenwash for ethnic cleansing.”
- In January 2023, MECA was a joint signatory on a call to Congress to “take immediate policy action towards accountability: Stop arming Israel’s massacres against the Palestinian people by ending U.S. military funding to Israel.”
- In July 2021, MECA was a sponsor of a rally calling to “End US Aid to Israel… [and] End the Apartheid State of Israel.”
- In July 2021, MECA was a signatory on a letter to President Biden to “Halt Weapons Sales to Israel.”
- In June 2020, MECA was a signatory on a letter to then Presidential candidate Joe Biden calling for “support for conditioning U.S. military funding to Israel on an end to Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and adherence to all relevant U.S. laws, including the Arms Export Control Act and the Leahy Law.” The letter further called for Biden to “promise to provide full U.S. cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s investigation into alleged war crimes committed by all sides in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
- In March 2019, MECA was a signatory on a letter to the UN High Commission for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet advocating for the UN BDS “blacklist” of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line. The letter called for the database to be published without delay as it will “serv[e] as a practical tool to end business support for illegal settlements…[and] will also constitute an important example of a measure for advancing normative clarity around the responsibilities of businesses operating in other areas under occupation.”
- In February 2018, MECA hosted Ann Wright, an activist with CODEPINK, for a lecture titled “Gaza Freedom Flotilla, BDS, Banned from Israel.” Wright “was a boat leader on the 2015 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and…the Zaytouna, the Women’s Boat to Gaza in 2016.”
- On June 28, 2016, MECA and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) “attempted to deliver a petition signed by 25,000 people urging musician Carlos Santana to respect the call for a cultural boycott of Israel in support of Palestinian human rights and cancel his upcoming concert in Tel Aviv.” However, the petition was ignored by the staff at Santana’s Milagro Foundation, who “refused to open the door when the delegation arrived, and closed the blinds.”
- In September 2015, MECA signed on a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urging the UN to terminate its contracts with international security company G4S, as the company is allegedly “complicit with Israel’s human rights violations.”
- In August 2014, MECA endorsed a protest titled “Block the Boat, End Israeli Apartheid” to block the Israeli owned ZIM shipping line from reaching the Port of Oakland in order to “refuse to allow Israel to conduct its business as usual.” The protest called to “end the colonial occupation of Palestine,” and “just as apartheid fell in South Africa, so too it will fall in Israel!”
- In July 2011, MECA was a signatory on a petition urging the National Building Museum to rescind their annual Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology granted to Caterpillar as “Caterpillar Inc. has a long history of complicity in extensive human rights abuses and violations of international law within the Occupied Palestinian Territory…Caterpillar long has been on notice about the pattern of Israeli human rights violations committed with its equipment, yet it continues to sell to the Israeli government, putting corporate profit before human rights.”
- In March 2011, MECA signed a “Statement by Jewish Activists and Organizations active in BDS against Israel” stating that BDS “rightfully place accountability on Israeli institutions (and their allies and partners) that use business, cultural, and academic ties to white-wash Israel’s responsibility for continuing crimes against humanity,” and defined BDS as an “anti-racist movement against the daily, brutal occupation of Palestine and military threat to the region by the State of Israel.”
Ties to Union of Health Work Committees
- Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) is a PFLP-affiliated health committee active in Gaza, as identified by USAID and in Palestinian documents. MECA lists UHWC as an organization “we support.”
- Mona El-Farra, the director of Gaza projects for MECA, is also a member of the Union of Health Work Committees, and according to American Friends Service Committee’s website, El-Farra also “heads the Rachel Corrie Children’s Center, which is also in Gaza. The center is a project of the Union of Health Work Committees.”
- In 2015, El Farra was denied a visa by the Israeli authorities to travel to a conference on Palestine in Dublin for “security reasons.”
- In an interview in 2004, El-Farra explained that UHWC refused USAID funding because it came with the condition that they promise “not [to] give any help or any aid whatsoever for the families of the militiamen, or their relatives, or anyone related to ‘terrorist attacks’” because “we consider it resistance.”
- Wafaa El Derawi, MECA’s Gaza Project Assistant, volunteered with the UHWC as a “health educator.”
- In January 2022, MECA donated an ambulance to UHWC. According to UHWC, “MECA is one of the most important partners of the Union.”
- In April 2019, MECA partnered with UHWC for a project to “bring medical aid to Palestinians under siege in Gaza.” The project placed sole blame on Israel and the blockade for the continuation of the conflict, while altogether omitting that the blockade was implemented in an effort to stop Palestinian terrorists from smuggling weapons and rockets into Gaza that would later be used to target Israeli civilians.
- MECA provided funding for a children’s library in Beit Hanoun run by the UHWC. The library was used for “psychosocial activities for children after this summer’s military attacks devastated the area and terrified the residents.”
- Partners include Ard Al-Insan, Civic Coalition for Palestinian Residency Rights in Jerusalem, Palestinian Red Crescent Society, and The Freedom Theatre.
- MECA also partners with the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committee (UPWC).
- MECA is a member of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a “national coalition of hundreds of groups working to advocate for Palestinian rights and a shift in US policy.”
- Accuses Israel of maintaining a “matrix of control” over the Palestinian population and enacting “laws that discriminate against [Palestinians], much as Black Americans had been treated during the Jim Crow era.”
- In May 2017, USCPR published “50 Years of Israeli Military Occupation – FAQs” accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid” and stating that “Even though the United States has consistently opposed Israel’s building of settlements for the past fifty years…the United States has worked to ensure that the international community does not impose sanctions on Israel for its continued illegal colonization of Palestinian land.”
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