Summary: The Mennonite Central Committee continues to promote a radical pro-Palestinian agenda, including support for demonization of through divestment campaigns. The official responses to NGO Monitor’s previous report not withstanding, MCC’s website features more highly distorted reports on the conflict, while erasing the context of terrorism. This NGO is also active in funding radical political groups as BADIL and Sabeel, in sharp contrast to the goal of peace that MCC professes to seek.
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) was founded in the 1920s and currently is supported by 15 separate church groups as "the relief, development and service arm" of the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in Canada and the United States. According to its mission statement, the group claims to "seek to demonstrate God’s love by working among people suffering from poverty, conflict, oppression and natural disaster."
The MCC is involved in numerous humanitarian endeavors around the world, including several projects in the Middle East. According to its website, the MCC "began relief work in Palestine in 1949 following war and the creation of the state of Israel, which left 700,000 Palestinians as refugees." (The context of the Arab invasion in 1948 has been erased from this distorted background.)
As detailed in NGO Monitor’s previous analysis, in addition to its relief role, the MCC is actively involved in the political activities of radical Palestinian groups. This analysis highlighted MCC support for the "Bridges Not Walls" campaign, an initiative that notably lacks any reference to the impact of Palestinian terror. Similar biases were found in MCC’s July-September 2004 "Peace Office Newsletter", including highly political attacks against Israel, that labeled the construction of the security barrier as an Israeli "systematic land-grab policy". This language repeated the political rhetoric of Palestinian groups, ignores the terrorism that led to this response, and has no place in the activities of a humanitarian organization.
Despite the claims made in the response from MCC Executive Director Ronald J.R. Mathies, the organization’s radical pro-Palestinian approach continues.
For example, MCC provides subsidies to radical Palestinian political groups. Including BADIL, an advocacy group for Palestinian refugee claims and the subject of previous NGO Monitor reports. BADIL’s application for UN recognition was recently rejected due to its extremist political position.
The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, a self-described "ecumenical grassroots" Christian organization that claims to work for peace and justice in the region, is also the recipient of MCC assistance. The MCC website documents that it supports Sabeel’s "efforts to strengthen the witness of the local Palestinian churches for justice and peace." In reality, Sabeel’s actions demonstrate its commitment to an extreme anti-Israel agenda that promotes and fuels conflict, in place of working towards peace and reconciliation, all with the support of the Mennonite Central Committee. A January 9, 2004, article by Sabeel founder and director Naim Ateek goes as far as blaming Israel for the actions of suicide bombers that prey on Israeli civilians. Ateek attacks Israel for "trampling Palestinian dignity and brutalizing their very existence." (See also Robert Everett and Dexter Van Zile, "Reawakening the teachings of contempt", Jerusalem Post, January 23, 2005.)
The MCC, through Sabeel and other allies, is also involved in promoting the extremist political campaign designed to isolate Israel through calls for boycott and divestment.
MCC’s own role in promoting a radical pro-Palestinian position is repeated in a June 2005 article entitled "Peacebuilding in Palestine/Israel: A Discussion Paper", re-posted on the Faithfutures Foundation website. The author alleges that, "Time and again Israel has ignored United Nations resolutions and international law." This is a distortion of international law based on a highly selective analysis of the UN, which also ignores the history of military aggression against Israel, in violation of the UN charter and relevant resolutions. The author also refers to "the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948", thereby adopting the Palestinian mythology which erases the Arab military invasion. In addition, the article repeats the standard anti-Israel condemnation of the separation barrier, again without providing the context of terrorism.
In summary, while claiming to work for all people "suffering from poverty, conflict, oppression and natural disaster," the MCC applies this principle selectively. This NGO has adopted radical Palestinian positions and erased terror attacks against Israelis, further fuelling the conflict instead of promoting reconciliation and compromise. By using the resources provided for humanitarian activities to promote extremist political campaigns against Israel, MCC has violated its mandate.