In May, Trocaire, the official overseas development agency of the Irish Catholic Church, and Christian Aid, one of the UK’s largest NGOs, unsuccessfully campaigned against Israel’s acceptance to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD “brings together the governments of countries committed to democracy and the market economy from around the world” on economic policy issues.
Claiming that “every day Israel violates international law and human rights of ordinary people,” Troicare established an online petition, urging supporters to contact the Irish and British governments in an attempt to block Israel’s OECD bid. “This agreement should be immediately suspended until Israel stops violating international law and starts protecting people’s basic human rights,” the petition read.
The petition included an emotive, and off-point, statement from an 18-year-old Gaza City resident, who said: “When I think of Israel joining an organization for economic cooperation, I ask what kind of economy are Palestinians allowed to have? What kind of cooperation do we get? We get siege and military occupation… Goods like petrol can’t enter Gaza…hardly any food gets in. I don’t have any weapons but they are destroying schools, killing children − who can be friends with this?” Trocaire Director Justin Kilcullen also wrote a letter to The Irish Times on this topic.
Christian Aid’s anti-Israel campaign ignored economic issues and focused on allegations that “civil society in [Israel] is increasingly under threat.” Repeating incomplete and self-serving talking points from Israeli NGOs, Christian Aid claimed that proposed legislation in the Israeli Knesset would “undermine human rights defenders working to uphold the rule of law and … strike at the very heart of the democratic space in which civil society operates.” In fact, the law would require more detailed and quicker reporting about foreign government funding, increasing transparency.