Correspondence: Christian Aid support for Alternative Information Center
Christian Aid, a UK-based NGO, provides financial support for the Alternative Information Center (AIC). (Christian Aid provided ten percent of AIC’s total budget in 2006.) Although AIC claims that its mission is " to find a just solution" to the conflict, its officials and publications promote the Durban strategy of demonization. It accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” and its articles minimize the actions of convicted murderer Samir Kuntar (freed in the 2008 exchange with Hezbollah) and the bulldozer terror attacks in Jerusalem of July 2008. Its co-founder, Michael Warschawski, has stated that “one has to unequivocally reject the very idea (and existence) of a Jewish state, whatever will be its borders.”
As part of NGO Monitor’s mandate, in September 2008, we wrote to Christian Aid (UK) to clarify its reasons for funding for AIC. Christian Aid’s response did not provide any details, but consisted of a blanket claim that "[we] do not find your comments [about AIC] to be well founded." Rather, according to Christian Aid, its partners, including AIC, "provid[e] for the needs of the most vulnerable and poorest people…[and] they are also working for a just and sustainable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians." NGO Monitor could not find evidence of AIC activities on behalf of the poor, or in promoting a just peace.
September 8, 2008
Dear Mr. Mukarji,
As part of its research and publication program, NGO Monitor has prepared the attached summary of the activities of the Alternative Information Center, which receives funds from Christian Aid. We assume that as a funder, you are aware of and endorse the biases and radical agenda pursued by AIC. We would appreciate your response and any comments that you wish to make.
For your information, NGO Monitor ( www.ngo-monitor.org) was founded to provide critical debate and accountability regarding the political activities of non-governmental organizations. We have over 11,000 subscribers, and are frequently quoted in the press, academic publications, by NGO officials and donors, and in governmental and parliamentary discussions. We look forward to further communication and cooperation on these important issues.
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg
Executive Director, NGO Monitor
cc: Paul Valentin, International Director
Jeffrey Jonkers, Middle East Program Manager
October 14, 2008
Dear Professor Steinberg,
Thank you for your email dated 8th September 2008 regarding the Alternative Information Centre.
We have looked into the issues raised in your email about AIC and do not find your comments to be well founded.
Christian Aid’s essential purpose is to eliminate poverty and to look on the root causes of poverty and suffering. Our work in the Middle East is no exception. We have worked in Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories for many years, and currently work with more than 25 Israeli and Palestinian partner organisations. We are looking for a just and lasting peace in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories which can contribute to the alleviation of poverty and suffering. Any resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must respect the integrity of both the Palestinian and Israeli people. We believe Israel’s right to recognition and to safety for all is citizens as well as its right to independent and secure economic development is not in question. Christian Aid also believes that the Palestinian people should be afforded that right as well.
All our partners, in their strategic and different ways, are focussing on providing for the needs of the most vulnerable and poorest people. We recognise they are also working for a just and sustainable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.
We are convinced that our continued support for AIC falls entirely within this approach. We hope you will understand our work in the Middle East.