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Caritas Internationalis

Profile

Country/TerritoryVatican City
Websitewww.caritas.org
Founded1897; Caritas Jerusalem founded in 1967 as a “result of the aftermath of the Six-Day War to respond to the overwhelming needs of Palestinian refugees.”
In their own words“Caritas seeks a world where the voices of the poor are heard and acted upon. This is a world where women and men in the poorest and most disadvantaged communities are able to influence the systems, decisions and resources that affect them. They can then live under governments, institutions and global structures that are just and accountable.”

Funding

  • In 2017, total expenses were €5.5 million.
  • According to its website, Caritas “is funded by contributions from member organisations and through private donations.”
  • In 2017, Caritas Belgium received €4.1 million from Belgium (DGD).
  • In 2017, Caritas Jerusalem received £27,000 from Embrace the Middle East, an NGO that promotes an entirely biased and distorted view of the conflict based solely on the Palestinian narrative of victimization and Israeli aggression.
  • Caritas International partnered with Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) in 2015-2016 for a €125,671 project “La campagne des oliviers” (the Olive Tree Campaign).

Activities

Political Advocacy

  • In May 2018, Caritas Jerusalem released a statement condemning the “recent escalation of violence in Gaza” and “support[ing] the right to non-violence protest, as a fundamental right of civilians.” The statement ignored the violent nature of the protests, which included Molotov cocktails, arson, and attempts to breach the border fence with Israel.
  • In July 2017, Sister Bridget Tighe, Executive Director of Caritas Jerusalem, was featured in a documentary produced by Trocaire (Ireland) titled “This is Palestine,” on “the impact of ongoing conflict and military occupation on the people who live there.” The documentary makes numerous false and biased claims regarding Palestinian access to water, as well as ignoring the context of terrorism against Israelis.
  • In June 2017, Caritas-Jerusalem was a signatory to an “Open Letter” from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine to the World Council of Churches, accusing Israel of “Discrimination and inequality, military occupation and systematic oppression.” The letter calls upon the WCC to “recognize Israel as an apartheid state,” and “unequivocally condemn the Balfour declaration as unjust, and that you demand from the UK that it asks forgiveness from the Palestinian people and compensates for the losses” (emphasis added). The letter also defends “our right and duty to resist the occupation creatively and nonviolently,” through “economic measures that pressure Israel to stop the occupation…in response to Israel’s war on BDS. We ask that you intensity those measures.”
  • The organization formally supports the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
    • In 2016, Fr. Raed Abusahlia, then General Director of Caritas Jerusalem, stated that they “are witnesses to these humanitarian violations” and purported that “Settlements are in violation of international law” and in Gaza “human rights violations have become the norm.”
    • In 2015, Abusahlia and Caritas Jerusalem “called upon the international community to intervene and end the ongoing worsening situation that is taking lives day in and day out” including the  “collective punishment of the Palestinians” and the “violations of…basic human rights.”
    • In 2014, Abusahlia alleged that “Since 1948, we Palestinians have experienced dispossession and exile. Our diaspora counts today more than 9 million people all over the world.” He further claimed that “Checkpoints, the Separation wall, lack of access to farmlands and violations are part of our daily life…Separation, segregation, violation, demolition, animosity and disrespect for basic human rights are all on the rise.”
  • In 2015, Caritas attempted to raise $50,000 to buy gifts for Christian families who live in “the largest open-air prison in the world.”
  • In its 2014 Annual Report, Caritas Internationalis described Pope Francis’s visit to Bethlehem where he “reflected at the wall built by Israel to separate Jews from Palestinians…” This distorts the security rationale for the barrier, which is to prevent suicide bombers and other attacks against civilians. (For example, in November 2002 a suicide bomber from Bethlehem blew up a Jerusalem city bus filled with school children, killing 11 passengers.)
  • During the 2014 Gaza conflict, then Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga stated that Palestinians in Gaza “see their children slaughtered, their neighbourhoods razed to the ground and all hopes for a future of peace torn to shreds,” and called for “the lifting of the blockade on Gaza to allow Gazans to protect their lives and livelihoods and so they can have a dignified life.” Here and in other publications, Caritas officials fail to mention the many rocket and other attacks on Israeli civilians emanating from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
  • In 2011, the General Secretary of Caritas Jerusalem called for the UN to “Recognise Palestine as step towards peace.”
  • Following the 2012 Gaza conflict, Caritas Jerusalem’s Communications Officer Harout Bedrossian wrote an article titled “Post-war Gaza: What have we learned?” suggesting that the war was due to the fact that Israel wanted to use “force” to compel the Palestinians to “give up their rights to the land.”

Caritas Switzerland

  • In 2017, total income was CHF 108.4 million; total expenses were CHF 106.7 million.
    • 13.9% of its income came from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
  • As of September 13, 2018, Caritas Switzerland’s page lists one project in “Palestine/West Bank.”
    • Caritas Switzerland’s project titled “Strengthening sustainability of psychosocial healthcare” (2017-2020; CHF 443,598) aimed to “Contribute to the strengthening and increased sustainability of mental and psychosocial health services provided to the Palestinian population in the West Bank.”
    • According to the project description, “there has been a marked increase in mental health and psychosocial disorders” due to the “Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, which is characterized by ongoing blockades, arrests, human rights abuses, repeated military aggressions, illegal settlement building, settler violence, the ongoing construction of the Separation Wall, home destructions, and many other injustices, all having a devastating effect on the physical, psychosocial and mental health of Palestinians.”

Key Members

  • Catholic Agency for Overseas Development – CAFOD (Caritas U.K.)
    • While CAFOD has “condemn[ed] violence against civilians by all sides,” it places sole responsibility for the conflict on Israel, omitting Palestinian terror, rejectionism, and legitimate Israeli security concerns. CAFOD states that “the only way out of the cycle of violence is to address the root causes of the conflict: there needs to be an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory, to the building of illegal settlements and to the closure of Gaza.”
    • In January 2017, as a member of the church umbrella organization CIDSE’s Palestine-Israel Working Group, released a document titled “No Place Like Home: A Reader On The Forced Internal Displacement Of Palestinians In The Occupied Palestinian Territory And Israel,” meant “to highlight the causes and impacts of displacement, explain the basic international legal principles relating to displacement and place this within the context of the European Union’s response.”
    • Published a July 30, 2014 “Gaza Crisis Appeal,” which condemned the “ferocious and relentless bombardment by the Israeli military on Gaza,” omitting that the military operation was launched in response to over 4,000 Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and in an effort to root out the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, including terror tunnels running beneath the border into Israel.
  • Cordaid (Caritas Netherlands)
  • Trocaire (Caritas Ireland)
    • In July 2017, Trócaire and producer John McColgan released This Is Palestine, a 50-minute documentary that claims to explore “the impact of ongoing conflict and military occupation on the people who live there.” The documentary promotes a one-sided Palestinian narrative and features interviews with officials from political NGOs such as Combatants for Peace, Youth Against Settlements, CaritasBreaking the Silence, and Rabbis for Human Rights.
    • In 2017, Trócaire launched a campaign – consisting of a video, petition, and public displays – marking “the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank, and the 10th anniversary of the blockade of Gaza,” stating that “For the past 50 years world leaders have stood by and allowed Israel cement its illegal occupation of the West Bank… These tragic milestones signal the need for intensified efforts to end the abuse of human rights and international law that stem from Israel’s control of Palestinian territory, and to ultimately realise the self-determination of the Palestinian people.” The campaign consists of false accusations and propaganda, and erases the need for security due to terrorism.
    • In January 2016, Séan Farrell, Director of Trócaire’s International Division wrote, “When all of the rhetoric is removed about security and legal processes, what is left is an illegal occupation and a systematic campaign of forced displacement, house demolition and land seizures. It is both illegal and immoral.”
  • Development and Peace/Développement et Paix (Caritas Canada)
    • Supported the 2014 production of the documentary Open Bethlehem that claims Bethlehem is an “imprisoned” town.
    • Supports the Society of St. Yves to “address human rights violations suffered by Palestinians, particularly those who have had been displaced from their land for the construction of a separation wall between Israel and the Palestinian Territories.”
      • Michel Sabbah, founder of Society of St. Yves, authored (together with Naim Ateek of Sabeel and Atallah Hanna) the 2009 Kairos Palestine document, which characterizes terrorist acts of “armed resistance” as “Palestinian legal resistance,” denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, calls to mobilize churches worldwide in the call for BDS, and compares Israel with the South African apartheid regime.
    • Member of KAIROS Canada.
      • In January 2017, KAIROS published an article about the “50th year of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, an occupation that causes daily hardship, exacerbates violence, and has also created huge inequities between people who literally live side by side.”
      • In 2009, Kairos Canada lost Canadian government overseas project funding. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney reportedly said that the “Church-based group lost its federal funding because of its position on the Middle East, more particular because of its anti-Israel stand.”
  • Secours Catholique (Caritas France)
    • Member of the French NGO Platform for Palestine.
    • Supports the “Made in Illegality” campaign in France, which calls upon France to end its economic relations with Israeli settlements. The campaign’s demands include banning French import of all “settlement products,” discouraging French companies “from investing in settlements,” and preparing information for travelers “to ensure that they avoid supporting companies and tourist sites that are located in the settlements.”
    • In 2013, published “The Challenge of Peace” (Le Défi de la Paix) jointly with three other French NGOs that calls on France and the EU to reduce military trade with Israel, and to condition the Israel-EU Association agreement. The publication advocates only one perspective in this conflict and uses partisan phrasing and language in its descriptions.

Partners

Funding to NGOs (amounts in NIS, unless noted)

Amounts based on NGO annual financial reports

NGOSource of Funds201620152014
Rabbis for Human RightsCaritas Belgium59,486128,50473,664
Physicians for Human Rights - IsraelSecours Catholique (Caritas France)133,000135,000162,000
Sadaka ReutCaritas Belgium328,836
Secours Catholique (Caritas France)108,429150,564140,850
Caritas Switzerland193,922155,692
Women’s Centre Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)Caritas Switzerland$146,725
World Council of Churches (WCC)Caritas InternationalisCHF 2,474

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