Summary: This coalition of Canadian churches and religious organizations takes radical positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, exploiting the vocabulary of human rights for political and ideological goals using the language of demonization.
Founded in July 2001, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives describes itself as "a coalition of churches and religious organizations devoted to justice in the community, nationally and internationally." This NGO runs programs in the areas of: "Aboriginal Rights, Anti-Poverty, Corporate Issues, Ecology, Education and Animation, Global Economic Justice, Health Care, International Human Rights, Partnerships, Refugees and Migration.
According to its 2003 Annual Report (Link has expired), KAIROS had a budget of over $4.5 million, including sizeable contributions from the Canadian International Development Agency. Other funding was received from its constituent church members and individual donations.
Like many other NGOs, KAIROS also takes a blatantly political position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On March 22, 2004, in a letter to Canadian PM Paul Martin, KAIROS stated its objections to targeted killings of terrorists, following the death of Sheikh Yassin: "Like suicide bombings, targeted assassinations destroy the fragile trust between Israelis and Palestinians." Thus KAIROS draws an amoral equivalence between suicide bombings of civilians and targeted killings of terrorists, and condemns Israeli actions that prevent mass murder. Furthermore, KAIROS also repeats the Palestinian narrative, claiming that "the Israeli occupation is the root cause of the violence", thereby ignoring decades of Palestinian terror and Arab warfare prior to the 1967 "occupation", and Israel’s basic obligation to defend its population. KAIROS’s historical distortions are also evident in its Basic Affirmations, where the organization calls for peace and an end to violence on both sides. However, in the Application of These Affirmations, KAIROS misleadingly claims that Israel’s legitimacy has been accepted by neighboring states and repeats the myth that UN resolutions "require Israel to withdraw to its borders as they were on June 4, 1967."
In another letter to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bill Graham, on November 3, 2003, KAIROS refers to Israeli house demolitions as "war crimes", condemns "the Occupation", the "wall" and a multitude of other Israeli actions. This language of demonization exploits the vocabulary of human rights for political and ideological goals.
Such clear political biases are also reflected in a March 13, 2002 letter to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which KAIROS castigates the Canadian government for referring to "Israeli deaths as the result of ‘terrorism’ and to Palestinian deaths as casualties of war, [by which] you send a message which suggests the latter are unfortunate ‘facts of life’ while the former are criminal."
In a June 28, 2002 analysis of US President Bush’s Middle East policy, KAIROS publishes an analysis by the highly politicized Jeff Halper (Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions), whose agenda places him on the fringe of Israeli politics. Halper misleadingly claims that Israel’s security barrier is "electrified" and describes Ariel Sharon’s plans as "reminiscent of the South African apartheid system where Palestinians will essentially become prisoners of their homes." Halper also claims that "Many believe that Sharon’s eventual plan…is to transfer the Palestinians out of the West Bank…" KAIROS continues its demonization of Ariel Sharon, calling him "culpable" in the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla as well as attributing the failure of peace efforts with Arafat on their "long feud that goes back decades."
KAIROS’s education packet on the conflict lacks citations, sources or a bibliography, and contains numerous examples of historical distortion and politicization. KAIROS also questions the very legitimacy and Jewish connection to the State of Israel, stating "…of the approximately 15 million Jewish people in the world today just 5 million live in Israel – meaning 2 out of 3 Jewish people choose not to live in Israel." Attempting to downplay the role of Arab states in the 1948 war and to paint Israel as an aggressor, KAIROS claims that the Israeli army was "a well-coordinated force several times the size of the combined Arab troops". The distortion of Israel’s image is further promoted by unsubstantiated claims including: "Many British military laws have been retained and are used today by Israel to suppress Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation."
KAIROS also downplays the impact of Palestinian terror, stating simply that "During the years of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories resistance to that occupation sometimes took on different forms, including attacks on Israeli civilians inside Israel." Therefore, by implication, KAIROS differentiates between attacks on Israeli civilians within Israel and across the Green Line. Indeed, Israeli rights and the effect of terrorism on the civilian population are ignored in a section on the "Psychological Impact" of the conflict, which refers only to Palestinians. The demonization of Israeli settlers is evident in the unsubstantiated claim that "…workers attempting to harvest the olives are shot at and sometimes killed by settler residents"
This is only a sample of some of the fabrications that KAIROS spreads. Despite its claim to be unprejudiced, it is clear that KAIROS promotes an anti-Israel politicized agenda in clear contradiction to its mission statements.
Brauna Doidge, NGO Monitor Intern