Reply to Ronald J.R. Mathies
Mennonite Central Committee
4 November 2004
Dear Mr. Mathies,
Thank you for your response to NGO Monitor’s analysis of the MCC’s activities with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article.php?id=694) You fail, however, to address the bulk of the issues raised.
Your outline of what you term ‘the bulk of the MCC’s programming’ regarding the Palestinians is admirable but for the fact that the MCC has clearly gone beyond the humanitarian mission you describe, and into the realms of political activism with a distinctly anti-Israel agenda. NGO Monitor never claimed that MCC resources are being diverted out of view of donors. This is evident from the blatant and highly visible materials promoted by the MCC. NGO Monitor stands by its analysis of the MCC’s material, whose contents you do not address in any substantive form. This appears in keeping with the MCC’s failure to take responsibility for the highly politicized views disseminated by your local branches, particularly in the Middle East.
While it is indeed possible to be a friend of Israel while being critical of Israeli policies and practices, the MCC has gone beyond legitimate criticism and instead promotes historical distortions, the canard of Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ and links to organizations and individuals dedicated to the delegitimization of Israel and its right to defend itself. The MCC has clearly rejected any notion of balance in its attitude towards the conflict, instead taking on the Palestinian narrative and agenda.
While you and the MCC may pray for peace, such a situation will certainly not be possible while Palestinian terrorism continues to take the lives of innocent Israeli civilians – the context of which the MCC fails to consider. Your claim that the MCC supports initiatives to promote non-violence becomes academic in light of your failure to address Palestinian terror and the MCC’s placing of sole responsibility for the conflict upon Israel’s shoulders.
Regarding the MCC’s campaign against Israel’s security barrier, it is not merely the belief of Israelis that such a barrier will improve their security. It is rooted in reality, as proven by the reduction in Israeli civilian casualties in areas where the barrier has been erected.
The MCC has clearly demonstrated a politicized anti-Israel agenda, which your response has inadequately addressed. NGO Monitor invites further dialogue in an effort to improve such a serious and disturbing situation.
Managing Editor, NGO Monitor
Letter from Ronald J.R. Mathies, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee
October 19, 2004
October 19, 2004
Mr. Simon Plosker
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Dear Mr. Plosker:
Thank you for inviting the opportunity to respond to the NGO Monitor’s report entitled “Mennonite Central Committee Campaign and Newsletter Promotes Anti-Israel Propaganda.” While we strongly disagree with your assessment that Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) activities or publications are “anti-Israel,” we appreciate the opportunity to respond.
A word of background about the Mennonite Central Committee’s work is perhaps in order, as it is touched on only tangentially in your report. MCC, with programs in over 50 countries, has provided relief aid and humanitarian assistance to Palestinian communities since 1949 in the form of food aid to food-insecure communities, assistance with agricultural and women’s development, and support for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. Such activities continue to constitute the bulk of our program among Palestinians. MCC also works with Palestinian and Israeli organizations committed to non-violence and to a future of peace, justice, and security for both peoples.
Your report, however, is concerned with what it describes as “anti-Israel propaganda” promoted by MCC. Regarding this claim, allow me to make the following corrections:
Your report claims that MCC is “diverting the resources provided for humanitarian activities and abusing them for political incitement and demonization of Israel.” There are two mistakes in this claim. First, the implication that MCC is “diverting” resources unbeknownst to our donors is mistaken. As your report notes, MCC is a “relief, service, and peace agency” of various Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in the United States and Canada. MCC is transparent about the nature of our work and activities and alerts our supporting churches about the full range of our programs and activities. Second, MCC does not engage in “political incitement and demonization of Israel.” Some of MCC’s publications, to be sure, criticize particular Israeli policies and practices. We do not believe, however, that such critique constitutes “incitement” or “demonization”. Rather, we would suggest that to be a friend of Israel means critical discussion of practices and policies that will not, in the end, bring long-term peace and security for Israelis.
MCC workers yearn and pray for the day when both peoples of the land, Palestinian and Israeli, will be able to sit down securely under vine and fig tree, with no one to make them afraid (Micah 4:4). We mourn the loss of Israeli and Palestinian life and support Palestinian and Israeli initiatives to promote non-violence. Israelis have suffered much over the decades.
It is understandable that many Israelis believe that the fences and walls of the separation barrier will bring them the security they yearn for and deserve. At the same time, however, MCC joins Pope John Paul II in his assessment that what the Holy Land needs today are bridges instead of walls. Whatever temporary security the separation barrier brings, the barrier will, we fear, mean a future of increased insecurity for Israelis and Palestinians alike, making durable peace and reconciliation more remote.
Thank you once more for the opportunity to respond.
Ronald J.R. Mathies