Click here to read the NGO Monitor report "ANERA: Aid Activity Tarnished by Political Agenda"

28 November 2005

Dear Dr. Steinberg:

I am writing in response to your November 24, 2005 NGO Monitor article on ANERA.

Initially, let me thank you for the positive statements you make about our program, its quality and our transparency. We appreciate that our good work is recognized.

I would hope that you would take another look at the critical comments you make about what we say in public. I think it is helpful if one takes a broad look at what we say and puts it in that context. For example, you mention that I do not write about corruption and the problems corruption causes in one particular report. Actually, if you look at a number of my reports, you will find considerable discussion of corruption and the problems therefrom. In another comment, you state that "terrorism is erased" in one of our publications. Again, if one takes a broad look at what we write, and especially what I put in my reports, one will find many references to terrorism which we have always condemned.

ANERA’s mission is to create opportunity and hope for people in the Middle East by improving health care and education and stimulating job creation. We know as well as anyone that to realize the goals of our mission in a fundamental way, peace between Israel and the Palestinians must be realized. We think our projects help create the environment for this desired peace. And in this context, we implement projects not only with the Palestinians, but also we emphasize Israeli-Arab projects that bring Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians together to address mutual practical issues such as environmental concerns and the use of pesticides in agriculture.

In sum, while I certainly respect everyone’s right to their own opinion and their own interpretation of the words of another person or institution, I hope you would incorporate the broader context of what we say. Also, please note that what we say in our literature is very similar to what the World Bank and some United Nations offices write. They are often our source for data and some quotes.

Wishing you well, I remain

Sincerely yours
Peter Gubser


Subject: Response to your letter (ANERA)
Date: Mon, December 5, 2005

Dear Mr. Gubser,

Thank you very much for responding to NGO Monitor’s November report on ANERA. One of our central objectives is to promote informed analysis and debate on the role and activities of NGOs, and a dialogue with officials is an essential part of that process.

I was, however, disappointed in the generality of your letter, and the absence of a detailed response to the specific issues related to ANERA’s partisan political activities, as presented in our report. You argue that NGO Monitor did not cite a broad enough range of examples, and that "if you look at a number of my reports, you will find considerable discussion of corruption". In our research, we have found only two references to corruption in your field reports since April 2002 (both in the April 2005 report, "Palestine in General" section), neither of which suggest any causal relationship between the widespread Palestinian corruption and the social and economic situation. Instead, the overwhelming emphasis in your reports is on repeating the standard one-sided and distorted attempt to blame Israeli policies. If there are other examples or instances in which you have mentioned corruption, please send the details so that we can amend our report.

You also argue that "if one takes a broad look at what we write, and especially what I put in my reports, one will find many references to terrorism which we have always condemned." In a survey of your field reports currently on your website covering much of the period in which over 1000 Israelis were murdered in Palestinian attacks, only two out of seven mention terrorism (October 2003 and March 2004), and both citations are quotes from other organizations. Here again, we invite you to provide additional examples, which we will also include in the updated report.

ANERA’s important work in providing humanitarian and development assistance to Palestinians should not be muddied by the incitement against Israel that continues to fuel this terrible conflict. We hope to work with you and funding organizations such as USAID to promote positive contributions by NGOs, and ensuring that groups such as ANERA are not exploited for furthering counter-productive agendas.

Gerald Steinberg