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KAIROS, a humanitarian organization representing various church groups, recently sponsored a coast-to-coast Canadian lecture tour on the Arab-Israeli conflict by the controversial Israeli journalist Amira Hass.

The tour, which began in Victoria on Sept. 27 and wrapped up in Halifax on Oct. 11, was heavily promoted by KAIROS. Its website even invoked religious significance, urging members and supporters to attend by stating that, “Christians in particular have the responsibility to learn about the past and present of the region and its peoples.

Hass is far from a qualified and objective teacher of the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict – indeed, she is one of those complexities. Hass is best known for her biased political viewpoint regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including accusing Israel of war crimes, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. As such, an organization that invites her to lecture knows very well the incendiary opinions she will be spreading, and will be under no illusions about the perspective it is promoting. The choice of sponsoring her speaks volumes about KAIROS’s partisan political agenda.

On the first leg of her KAIROS Canadian tour, Haas lived up to expectations. “You have a policy of ethnic cleansing in vast areas of the West Bank . . . It’s very open,” the Vancouver Sun quoted from her lecture on the West Coast.

According to the Vancouver Observer, Hass also stated that the only hope for the future of the Middle East depends on continuing “to build a binational movement against Israeli apartheid.”

The use of rhetoric referring to the Jewish nation state as “apartheid” – and similar accusations – is a central part of the ongoing political war to delegitimize Israel, and is the polar opposite of educating toward the goal of peaceful coexistence.

This political caravan sponsored by KAIROS comes at a surprising time, as the organization attempts to regain the Canadian government funding for its overseas projects that was lost in November 2009. When the Canadian International Development Agency cancelled its long-term partnership with KAIROS, the organization lost some $7 million in future funding. While the process leading to the cut has remained unclear, one of the widely reported explanations in the media was KAIROS’s involvement in the anti-peace boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

Additionally, KAIROS’s distribution of material by the radical Palestinian nongovernmental organization known as Sabeel, including use of the incendiary apartheid allegation, was cited by such groups as NGO Monitor. While KAIROS officials strenuously denied their involvement in boycotts and sanctions, they acknowledged actions such as circulating a paper suggesting ways for divestment from Israel.

After the CIDA funding cut-off, KAIROS and its supporters have campaigned for the restoration of taxpayer support. They repeatedly demanded detailed information on how the funding was cut, and are promoting media coverage focusing on the alleged harm caused to its humanitarian projects by the lost funding. In parallel, KAIROS has worked to make sure that its views on the Middle East are not considered in conflict with the Canadian government, and in February, published a question-and-answer document comparing its views with official government publications.

No one is claiming that Hass is not entitled to present her biases to an interested audience, or that liberation church groups like KAIROS should be prevented from supporting such views by their sponsorship. The pertinent question is whether Canadian public funds need to support their dissemination. Why should Canadian public funding be restored and used to support the spreading of biased political accusations?

KAIROS has previously argued that its CIDA funds were only used for humanitarian projects, and its political advocacy was separately funded by private donations – and never the twain shall meet. In essence, its argument tries to separate political advocacy from the decision of whether to fund its humanitarian projects. But such a separation is inherently artificial. Which hat was KAIROS wearing when it partnered with Sabeel and led the anti-Israel divestment campaign in Canada?

KAIROS seeks to add credibility to its advocacy by appealing to its reputation as a humanitarian organization. Thus, by supporting its humanitarian projects, the public is directly helping it spread the views of such speakers as Hass. KAIROS’s own actions are linking its humanitarian works to political messages. If KAIROS sponsors speakers who, while sheltering under an umbrella of humanitarian image, openly accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing, it cannot complain when its efforts to receive taxpayer-provided funding are denied.

The sponsorship of Hass’s lecture tour reinforces the clear evidence that KAI-ROS, as an organization, promotes a highly biased approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, instead of fostering coexistence and peace. The Canadian public should demand that the government not reverse its position to cut the funding of an organization involved in such counterproductive political campaigning.

Gidon Shaviv is a PhD candidate at Israel’s Bar Ilan University and an Israel Research Fellow placed at NGO Monitor. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, policy or positions of the Israel Research Fellowship Program.