Summary:  NGO Monitor has previously analyzed the role of humanitarian and human rights organizations that focus (or claim to focus) on medical and health-related issues. (‘Political Humanitarianism’).

NGO Monitor has previously analyzed the role of humanitarian and human rights organizations that focus (or claim to focus) on medical and health-related issues. (‘Political Humanitarianism’ and Medical NGOs – NGO Monitor Dec. 2003) The analysis demonstrated that the activities and resources of many of these NGOs are primarily directed towards ‘political humanitarianism’, rather than the providing medical assistance that is generally the focus of their mission statements. Instead of providing aid relief, such organizations emphasize ‘advocacy work’ leading to the exploitation of aid relief claims to further narrow political agendas.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), is another such NGO that describes itself as “a British charity dedicated to the health and humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. MAP was established in 1984 in the aftermath of the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon and today it operates in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip) and Lebanon delivering basic health and medical care to Palestinian refugees.” Despite this political description, MAP claims to be “non-political and non-partisan.”

MAP’s 2003 Annual Report (Link has expired)  reveals a total income of over £2.1 million (nearly $3.6 million), 46.7% of it from voluntary donations and 39.2% from the European Union. MAP also received donations from the British government’s Department for International Development (DfID). MAP extended particular thanks to the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), EuropeAid and the Linbury Trust for their support.

The role of ECHO in providing direct funding for a number of politicized anti-Israel NGOs has been documented by NGO Monitor (EU Funds for NGOs Misused – NGO Monitor Sept. 2003) including funding for MAP partner organizations Ard et-Aftal and Ard el-Insan that espouse an overtly anti-Israel agenda. Likewise, MAP also works with the highly politicized Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees.

MAP’s ideological view is apparent from its brief historical background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which fails to include any context. According to MAP, in 1948 following the creation of the State of Israel, “thousands of Palestinians flee to Lebanon, Egypt and the West Bank in the wake of massacres by militants near Jerusalem.” Lacking any mention of the threat to Israel’s survival prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, MAP states simply that Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights during the conflict. MAP also pays particular attention to the massacres perpetrated by Christian Phalangists in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, over- emphasizing Israeli involvement. More recent historical background includes reference to the April 2002 IDF incursion into Jenin, where MAP fails to qualify its statement that there were “reports of a massacre and Israel is accused of war crimes,” in the aftermath of Operation Defensive Shield.

MAP’s anti-Israeli stance is well-illustrated by the statements of the organization’s President, Lord David Steel, (Link has expired) who, on 17 September 2003 stated: “Yesterday I passed the place of the last suicide bombing in Jerusalem which killed among others Dr.Applebaum and his daughter preparing for her wedding. The same day I saw in Gaza the place where Mahmoud al-Zahar escaped an assassination attempt by the Israeli Defense Force but which killed his son, a student on holiday from Britain, also just before his wedding. The deaths of these two young people, one Israeli one Palestinian, neither involved in politics, on the eve of their future happiness should symbolize the wickedness and futility of mutual violence in this region.”

Lord Steel places an amoral equivalence between two innocent Israelis deliberately murdered by a suicide bomber in a Jerusalem café, and the unintentional death of the son of a terrorist leader, killed in an Israeli counter-terror operation with the purpose of preventing further Palestinian terrorist activities. Lord Steel also comments on Israel’s security fence, which MAP refers to as “The Wall”, ignoring the background behind Israeli efforts to block terrorists from entering its cities, instead stating that “this construction is a crime against humanity.” (Link has expired)

MAP also offers its own critique of settlements, claiming that they are “one of the biggest stumbling blocks to peace in the Israel/Palestine conflict.” (Link has expired)

Furthermore, in sharp contrast to MAP’s claim to be non-partisan, its website, rather than exclusively offering links to other humanitarian organizations, chooses to publish the website addresses of virulently political pro-Palestinian groups such as Palestine Monitor and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The political agenda of MAP requires intense scrutiny, not only because of the organization’s claims to be non-political, but also because, according to Belinda Coote, Chief Executive of MAP, the organization is supported by “the British public, British organizations, the British Government, the European Community, the United Nations and many international organizations.”

MAP is a major example of a humanitarian organization, funded by the EU, the British government, and other sources, that has become involved in advocacy on behalf of the Palestinians instead of providing medical care and aid to those in need.