Summary: Prior to the ruling of the ICJ on Israel’s security barrier, SCF released its own one-sided political analysis, violating its mandate, presenting a distorted version of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a pro-Palestinian filter, while ignoring the rights of Israeli children.

The International Save the Children Fund has an annual income of almost $700m and is active in over 100 countries, including the Palestinian Authority. The major branches are found in the UK, Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, and its primary sources of funding include American Express, Serco Group plc, the Boston Consulting Group, Ikea, Diner’s Club, Royal Doulton and the SAS group.

As reported by NGO Monitor in March 2004, Save the Children Fund (SCF) UK is very active politically in promoting anti-Israel positions, while ignoring the abuse of Palestinian children for terrorist purposes, including transporting explosives and recruitment of children to become suicide bombers. Its "educational" activities regarding the conflict are heavily pro-Palestinian, while SCF has ignored other issues relevant to the rights of Palestinian children, such as the use of textbooks to promote hatred and incitement. SCF has also chosen not to condemn Palestinian terrorism or come out in defense of Israeli children who are victims of this violence.

SCF’s strong political involvement was reiterated in March 2004, when the British and Swedish branches of the NGO published a report, "Living Behind Barriers".

This report presented a one-sided and highly politicized version of the Israeli decision to erect a separation barrier to protect its citizens from terror attacks, and its language was very similar to reports issued by other politicized NGOs that claim to support human rights and humanitarian relief. (Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, Amnesty International).

In the SCF report, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is presented through the simplicity of a child’s statements, which is a highly emotive means that strips away the historical context and repeats the Palestinian narrative. For example, a Palestinian child is quoted expressing sadness that his uncle had been ‘martyred’. In the Palestinian vocabulary, this term is an accolade of honor for those who have died carrying out suicide bombings or terrorist actions against Israelis. Thus, in this framework, SCF is responsible for reinforcing praise of terrorism.

This report also includes SCF’s description of the effects of the Israeli security barrier, which it refers to as ‘the Wall’, (also in keeping with Palestinian political terminology). The authors of the report make a claim that "There was an alarming rise in children’s sense of insecurity and risk of violence." While this may apply to Palestinian children (no data is presented), the lack of security is something that equally applies to Israeli children who have suffered from terrorist attacks that the barrier is designed to prevent. SCF blames Israel for the discomfort and for statements by Palestinian children such as "I would say that the Jews are animals."

SCF’s report also includes the politicized claims regarding the arrest and detention of Palestinian minors, giving unsubstantiated examples of ‘torture and abuse’. SCF fails to address the issue of why these children were detained in the first place. For example, one Palestinian teenage girl readily admits that she had set out with a kitchen knife in order to stab an Israeli soldier. As previously mentioned, SCF also fails to address the use of Palestinian children in acts of terror.

SCF’s report thanks those that contributed, including the Palestinian Ministry of Education, the highly politicized Defence for Children International / Palestine Section and PYALARA, a Palestinian youth NGO with close ties to the Palestinian Authority. Nowhere in the report is there any space for Israeli responses to the accusations levelled.

SCF has, once again, demonstrated its one-sided and politicized approach to children’s rights in the Middle East. In order to restore its credibility as a charity and humanitarian relief organization, as well as the credibility of the funding organizations these major ethical failures must be repaired.