- Christian Aid, a major British NGO and NGO-funder, allocated over €19 million to organizations in Asia and the Middle East in 2007-8. In addition to other donors, it receives funding from the British and Irish governments.
- Christian Aid engages in a highly politicized approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its reports disproportionately focus on alleged Israeli “violations” and dismiss the impact of Palestinian terrorism.
- Many of its partners are among the most radical NGOs involved in the conflict, including Sabeel, ICAHD, and the Alternative Information Center. These NGOs, and other Christian Aid partners, attempt to isolate Israel internationally through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).
- In October 2007, Christian Aid´s “Conflict Page” on its website singly focused on condemnations of Israel. Since then, the website has shown less-myopic coverage of the “Conflict in the Middle East.”
- NGO Monitor continues to engage with Christian Aid, challenging its support for and cooperation with biased NGOs that do not engender peaceful cooperation in the region. This update is part of this important dialogue.
Christian Aid (CA) serves as the official relief, development and advocacy agency of 41 churches in Britain and Ireland, and receives substantial funding from private and governmental donors, including Irish Aid and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). In 2007-8, CA achieved an income of £86.5 million/€109.3 million, with nearly 75% coming directly from the public in Britain and Ireland.1
Irish Aid´s partnership with Christian Aid began in the late 1970s, and CA´s first block funding was awarded in 1996. Irish Aid donated €7 million to CA from 2003 to 2006, and on March 8, 2007 announced a five-year package totaling €17 million. Irish Aid supports the work of Christian Aid Ireland in Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Israel and the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” (the Palestinian Authority), Columbia and Sierra Leone.
Christian Aid also receives funding through the UK DFID´s Partnership Programme Agreements (PPAs). The present PPA, a 6-year arrangement worth over £5m per year, will expire in 2011. In contrast to earlier PPA criteria, where funding is unrestricted, during 2007, the overall PPA scheme and all PPA arrangements were reformed “in response to NAO/PAC recommendations and DFID’s recognition of the need for more effective and accountable PPA arrangements.” Strategic objectives and measurable performance indicators were thus developed in partnership between DFID and Christian Aid.
Although these funds were not specifically targeted for work in the Palestinian Authority, money is fungible and enhanced DFID support enhances CA´s credibility.
In 2007-8 CA allocated grants of £15.6 million/€19.8 million to organizations in Asia and the Middle East.
Christian Aid´s Activities
Previous NGO Monitor reports (see “Christian Aid Essentials”) have documented CA´s highly biased coverage of the Middle East, including demonization and delegitimization of Israeli self-defense measures, distortion of historical events and support of radical NGOs. Unfortunately, the evidence covering 2008 does not indicate a major change of direction.
Christian Aid is an active participant in the ongoing NGO campaign of false accusations and double standards against Israel´s responses to ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza. Following the breach of the Gaza border with Egypt by thousands of Palestinians (January 23, 2008), CA issued a press release, condemning Israel’s “blockade” as “collective punishment.” Soon after, CA joined other UK NGOs in a joint report, “The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion.” Repeating standard NGO condemnations of Israeli policy on Gaza, the report is based on factually incorrect evidence, distortions of international law, and offers a one-sided, incomplete account of the situation. Christian Aid and several other UK aid agencies proceeded to call on members of the Mid-East Quartet to put the highest diplomatic pressure on the Israeli government to lift the blockade on Gaza. This campaign continued in September 2008, when CA endorsed another joint NGO publication, entitled “The Middle East Quartet: a progress report.” Despite claiming to present “evidence” and “verdicts” on the Quartet policy recommendations to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the report´s selective and misrepresentative descriptions reveal a strong political agenda, and many of its claims compiled from other NGO publications lack credibility or have been exposed as inaccurate.
In August 2008, CA uncritically copied allegations from Physicians for Human Right – Israel (PHR-I) that Israel’s General Security Service (GSS-Shin Bet) was refusing life-saving medical treatment to patients from Gaza unless they informed against family and friends. NGO Monitor analyses have revealed the problematic nature of these claims, and of PHR-I’s political agenda.
Throughout its campaign against Israel’s Gaza policy, CA has dismissed Israel’s legitimate security concerns, despite the thousands of mortars and rockets that have been fired on Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza since the beginning of 2008.
Christian Aid´s website
In late October 2007, NGO Monitor wrote a letter to the Church of England Newspaper, pointing out that the CA website´s conflict section was devoted entirely to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Christian Aid then added material on Burma and Guatemala, but still disproportionately focused on Israel. As of October 19, 2008, two of the four sections on the conflict page – “Children in Conflict” (on Angola), “Aid agency warning” (on Israel and the Quartet), “Healing Hate” (on medical care in the West Bank and criticizing Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks) and “Reconciliation” (on Southern Sudan) – singled out Israel for criticism. However, as of November 24, 2008, an update on Afghanistan has replaced “Healing Hate” as a focus item, marking an improvement of CA´s myopic coverage of Israel.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign
At the World Conference Against Racism in Durban (2001), NGOs crystallized the “Durban Strategy” of isolating and delegitimizing Israel internationally — including boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns. Despite CA´s claim that it has “never taken a position on [the BDS] campaign,” as stated in a letter to NGO Monitor, the organization funds and closely associates with numerous NGOs spearheading the BDS movement. For instance, CA partners with Sabeel, which led the international campaign for “morally responsible investment” (divestment) in 2005-6.
In October 2007, Christian Aid was listed as a “partner supporting the conference” of an Ittijah-initiated event held in Cyprus (Ittijah is one of the NGO leaders of anti-Israel campaigning). Participants included some of the most ardent supporters of BDS, including the Palestinian Grassroots anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (PGAAWC), Palestine BDS Campaign, and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO). The conference´s final statement called upon NGOs to “turn utmost attention to the boycott, divestment and sanction campaign against Israel and pursu[e] the parastata Zionist organizations worldwide.” CA´s support (whether logistical, financial, institutional or other) enabled NGOs to convene and strategize, publicize and advance the campaign of BDS at this event. Christian Aid also provides financial support via Irish Aid to the Alternative Information Centre (AIC) – a consistent supporter of BDS. (See the detailed analysis of CA’s NGO partners below.)
In a letter to NGO Monitor (June 30, 2008), Christian Aid Director, Daleep Mukarji, wrote that “Christian Aid does not intend to send a representative of our Middle East programme to the 2009 [Durban Review Conference].” However, Christian Aid´s partners – which include radical NGOs such as ICAHD, Alternative Information Center, Ittijah, and Sabeel – can “determine and support their own participation in the conference.” The preparations for the Review Conference indicate that it will repeat the anti-Semitic hatred and anti-Israeli sentiments of the original conference, and as an indirect supporter of participating NGOs, CA shares the moral responsibility.
On the occasion of Israel’s Independence Day (May 14, 2008), Christian Aid published “Israel at 60.” In this document, CA recognizes Israel´s fundamental right to a secure existence, but also uses language which undermines this claimed objective, including repeating false allegations of “collective punishment” (See “False Claims of ´Collective Punishment´ in NGO Campaigns on Gaza.”) While “Israel at 60” is relatively balanced as compared with NGO “Nakba” (“catastrophe”) statements that reject Israel’s existence, the description of “‘Al Nakba,’ as Arabs refer to the large-scale displacement from the land they had tilled for centuries” indicates CA’s bias and acquiescence to the Palestinian narrative.
Christian Aid´s Partners
Christian Aid “operates mainly through local organizations that know best how to tackle the poverty they see every day, respond during emergencies and challenge their governments.” At the same time, many of Christian Aid´s Partner Organizations are among the most radical NGOs working in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict [Note that CA appears to have removed the list of partner organizations from its website. The link above is to the old page that was no longer available after August 8, 2008.]
Sabeel – In 2007, Christian Aid provided 167,847 NIS to Sabeel, constituting around 25% of Sabeel´s fundraising and the largest single donation to the NGO (documents received from Israel´s Registrar of Non-Profit Organizations). Sabeel deploys demonizing language, including “apartheid,” provides a platform for those comparing Israel to the Nazis, and utilizes Christian imagery and theological themes to delegitimize Israel. It is active in anti-Israel BDS, leading the church divestment campaign in 2005-6.
Alternative Information Centre (AIC) – According to public documents from the Israeli Registrar for non-profit organizations, Christian Aid donated 328,395 NIS to AIC in 2006. On its website, AIC acknowledges the “generous support for its activities in 2008” by, among others, the Irish Government through the help of Christian Aid. AIC actively participates in the demonization of Israel at international forums, has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, and published inflammatory articles minimizing the actions of convicted terrorists. The organization´s activities, which include support for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions, reflect an extreme anti-Israel political agenda. In an October 14, 2008 letter to NGO Monitor, CA sought to defend its support for AIC.
Al Haq – Al Haq reports that it received $48,122 from Christian Aid in 2007. (For reasons unknown, Al Haq was not among the NGOs listed in Christian Aid´s partner list.) While Al Haq claims to be “an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organization,” the evidence reflects its leading role in political campaigning. It was an active participant in the 2001 Durban Conference, and lists “participation in…activities regarding boycott, divestment, and sanctions” (BDS) amongst its objectives. Al Haq’s General Director, Shawan Jabarin, has been linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Its website openly identifies Israel´s independence as “Naqba” (“catastrophe”) and it is aleader in the NGO “lawfare” movement whereby it exploits courts internationally to harass Israeli officials.
Israeli Coalition Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) – According to its mission statement, “ICAHD is a non-violent, direct-action group originally established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories.” However, ICAHD promotes a highly politicized narrative of the conflict, falsely accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and state terrorism. Jeff Halper, who heads this NGO, frequently uses the term “apartheid” and was a prominent participant in the “Free Gaza” publicity stunt in August 2008.
Ittijah – Ittijah claims a leadership role at the 2001 NGO Forum of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, having “gathered, facilitated and directed the vision and position of the Palestinian NGOs inside Israel on racism, particularly Israeli-state racism towards Palestinian citizens, and the apartheid State practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” The NGO Forum at Durban was marked by virulent anti-Semitism, “apartheid” rhetoric, and attempts to vilify and isolate Israel.
Adalah: The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah received 88,040 NIS from Christian Aid in 2005 (Source: Israeli Registrar for non-profit organizations). A Christian Aid partner since 1997, Adalah claims to promote “equal individual and collective rights for the Arab minority in Israel.” While some of Adalah´s activities are consistent with its stated objectives, the organization also pursues campaigns claiming Israel is a “racist” state in international forums. In March 2007, Adalah published a “Democratic Constitution,” which called for the end of Israel as a democratic society with a Jewish character.
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) – EAPPI is an initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC) within the Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine, and is supported with funds from Christian Aid. EAPPI presents a biased Palestinian narrative, and ignores Palestinian terror and the human rights of Israelis. It also bases publications on statements by activists from other politicized campaigns and NGOs, such as PGAAWC.
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) – While PCHR does report on intra-Palestinian human rights abuses, it also supports boycotts against Israel and presses an anti-Israel agenda in the media and international organizations. This NGO uses the term “apartheid” in an attempt “to raise awareness of the illegal and brutal behavior of the Israeli occupying force,” and pursues an on-going campaign of bringing criminal and civil suits against Israeli military officials for anti-terror measures.
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) – PHR-I distorts medical and other human rights to promote its political agenda. PHR-I consistently erases the context of terror, employing a double standard regarding the “right to life”: criticizing Israel for its response to Palestinian terrorism, but not the perpetrators of those attacks. Some of its accusations have been found to be false.
YMCA (East Jerusalem) – The Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) of the East Jerusalem YMCA uses “apartheid” rhetoric, organizes demonstrations, and promotes the BDS campaign. It also claims that the “decline” of the Palestinian Christian population is a result of Israel´s perception of their “threat to their continued occupation of Palestine,” not intra-Palestinian violence and the persecution of Christians in Palestinian society.
Other Christian Aid include B´tselem, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), Kav La´Oved, Tamer Institute, Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, Women´s and Family Affairs Centre, Association Najdeh, Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) and Galilee Society. It also supported Management Accounting for Non Governmental Organizations (MANGO) with £42,800 in 2007 (according to Mango´s 2007 annual report). Mango, in turn, is a UK registered charity, with the stated mission “to strengthen the financial management of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).” Mangos services are enjoyed by NGOs such as Christian Aid itself CARE, Lutheran World Federation, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision.
Christian Aid continues to focus disproportionately on Israel. It has joined with other NGOs in condemning Israel for its Gaza policy, dismissing Israel’s legitimate security concerns and ignoring Hamas´ terrorist status. Through its funding and support of politicized NGOs – some of which are the most radical, anti-Israel, pro-boycott groups in the region – CA exacerbates the Arab-Israeli conflict instead of promoting peace and stability. This one-sided political agenda raises fundamental questions about substantial funding from the governments of Ireland (Irish Aid) and the UK.
- More specifically, CA reports that out of the £86.5m/€109.3m: £30.3m/€38.3m (35%) come from general donations, £14.6m/€18.4m (17%) were raised during the Christian Aid Week, £11.5m/€14.5m (13%) came from emergency appeals, £9.8m/€12.4m (11%) from legacies, £17.6m/€22.2m (21%) from Government grants and £2.7m/€3.4m (3%) from “Other income.”