Rev. John Gladwin, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford and chair of Christian Aid’s Board of Trustees, might well have seen and felt the terror blasts in London on July 7. And he might have recalled a film made by his organization with the misleading name of Peace Under Siege which was shown widely during the 2003 Christmas campaign.
In this film, four seconds of images showed the charred remains of an Israeli bus, while the rest condemned Israeli efforts to prevent more such atrocities and promoted Palestinian victimization. If Gladwin sponsors a similar film on the London attacks, will it also emphasize sympathy for the perpetrators of terror and condemn the victims?
Public campaigns reflecting stark anti-Israel themes are characteristic of much of Christian Aid’s activities, as well as of the agendas of other groups claiming to promote human rights and relieve suffering.
Gladwin and other members of Christian Aid’s Executive Committee are also patrons of the noble-sounding "Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center" in reality, a radical Palestinian political organization. Sabeel’s leader, Naim Ateek, uses Christian theological images to promote opposition to Israel and plays a leading role in promoting the divestment campaign endorsed by the Anglican Church, as well as other denominations.
In the cycle of demonization, radical church leaders channel "charitable" funds to extremists such as Sabeel, then cite their claims in justifying divestment campaigns and similar activities using the false flag of human rights.
The anti-Israel divestment declarations by a number of Protestant Church groups are the latest battle in the political war that has accompanied Palestinian terrorism. Following the university boycott campaign a few months ago (which was defeated, at least in that round), the divestment declarations were timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the pseudo-legal advisory decision of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s security barrier.
Like many of these battles in the effort to portray Israel as "an apartheid state," divestment calls are being led by a network of dozens of Palestinian charities, unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Sabeel is one of many such NGOs that provide bridges to church involvement in this propaganda campaign.
Others pushing divestment and boycotts include MIFTAH, a powerful NGO led by Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashwari; BADIL, which claims to be helping refugees; Al-Mezan, an extremist group based in Gaza); ADRID, where terms such as "international Zionist conspiracies" are common; Ittijah, and others.
THESE ANTI-ISRAEL political NGOs receive funding from sources such as the Ford Foundation, the European Union and individual governments and even the New Israel Fund, which has funded projects involving Ittijah and MIFTAH. The standard justifications for this support human rights, institution-building, humanitarian aid, peace, etc. have long since been exposed as facades.
After the debacle of the 2001 UN Durban Conference in which NGOs supported by the Ford Foundation led the "Zionism is racism" movement, its president, Susan Berresford, pledged to prevent further abuses; but implementation has been slow and secretive. As a result, funds continue to flow to the radical NGO network for use in promoting high-profile anti-Israel political campaigns such as divestment.
WHY DO powerful individuals and organizations in Britain, Europe and North America continue to cooperate with these groups in the political war against Israel, even as new victims of Palestinian terror are being buried? How do NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, World Vision and War on Want justify singling out Israel for excessive and obsessive attack, ignoring the principles of universal human rights? Why are politicized church groups calling for divestment from Israel but not from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria?
For some, the source of this discrimination remains ideological opposition to Jewish sovereignty and the existence of Israel (the "new anti-Semitism"). This outlook will not change, and people who hold it must be opposed and removed from positions of influence. After the creation of a powerful opposing coalition, such a strategy successfully defeated the university boycott campaign.
However, the majority are not hard-core Israel-bashers. They have been taken in by repeated exposure to simplistic images of Palestinian victimization, distorted history and rhetoric blaming Israeli "occupation." Political correctness provides much of the support for the divestment campaign and other forms of NGO-led demonization, and it can be countered by education and information.
Some members of the Anglican Church have initiated a debate on the official pro-Palestinian position, and the founding of "Christian Aid Watch" is a hopeful sign.
Now that the plague of suicide bombings has struck in London, will Rev. John Gladwin recognize the stark cruelty of terrorism even when the victims are Israelis? If he and other leaders of the Anglican Church, and affiliated NGOs such as Christian Aid and UK Friends of Sabeel, make this transition, the door will open toward restoring the moral core of universal human rights, including the basic right to life.
The writer directs the Program on Conflict Management at Bar Ilan University and is the editor of www.ngo-monitor.org