Summary: This North American church organization promotes overtly anti-Israel propaganda in its "Peace Office Newsletter" and campaign against Israel´s security barrier.
Founded in 1920 and based in Akron, PA, with offices located throughout the USA and Canada, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) describes itself as "a relief, service, and peace agency of the North American Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches." The organization’s overseas work includes development work such as education, health and agriculture, peace and justice issues, relief work and job creation.
In the fiscal year 2002, the MCC’s income totaled over US$60 million mainly from individual donations. Other sources include relief sales, thrift shops, and donations of food grains. The grain donation is matched by the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) by as much as four-to-one ($4 for every $1 of grain donated).
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." While the information on the MCC’s work in the Palestinian Authority lacks context, it is not blatantly biased. However, a closer examination of the MCC’s activities and publications reveals a highly politicized and anti-Israel agenda. MCC’s Washington office promotes the "Bridges Not Walls" campaign to urge US politicians "to call upon Israeli and Palestinian leaders to build bridges for peace, not walls that divide". This definition of peace, however, fails to acknowledge the impact of Palestinian terror, instead repeating Palestinian political attacks on the Israeli security barrier and providing links to highly politicized NGOs, including PENGON and the "Stop the Wall Campaign".
MCC’s July-September 2004 "Peace Office Newsletter" produced by the organization’s Middle East leadership, contains highly vitriolic attacks on Israel. While the newsletter claims that the views of the authors do not necessarily reflect those of the MCC, it is difficult to see how such overtly anti-Israel propaganda could be published without the support of the organization.
The newsletter features a number of articles relating to Israel’s security barrier, including one by Alain Epp Weaver, MCC co-representative for Palestine, Jordan and Iraq, who argues that the creation of the state of Israel "would necessarily mean a violent imposition on the native population" and claiming that "Zionist leaders from the left and the right spoke of the need to ‘transfer’ some or all of the native Arab population." Weaver also expounds a pro-Palestinian version of Israel’s policies vis-a-vis the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Claiming to explain "the wall" in historical perspective, Weaver fails to mention Palestinian terrorism and legitimate Israeli security concerns, instead claiming that the barrier "will allow Israel to maximize its control over the occupied territories while avoiding any responsibility for the Palestinian population, separated by walls and fences: enjoying the fruits of occupation without any of the occupation’s responsibilities." Weaver also repeats the standard facile propaganda comparisons with the Berlin Wall and South African apartheid.
In addition, the newsletter shows that some of the MCC’s partner organizations are radical Palestinian groups. Jad Isaac of the Applied Research Institute – (Jerusalem) has an article demonizing the separation barrier, without mentioning the right of Israel to defend itself against terror attacks. Another contributor to the newsletter is Jeff Halper from the highly politicized Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, who is given the opportunity to grossly misrepresent "The Israeli View of the Separation Wall".
The newsletter’s list of resources betrays a clear extremist political bias, listing books by Uri Davis ("Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within") and the radical academic Ilan Pappe. Links to websites include the highly politicized NGOs Al-Haq, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the Applied Research Institute – (Jerusalem), the Electronic Intifada, and the Stop the Wall Campaign.
The MCC also claims no responsibility for its country representatives’ choice of politicized organizations listed on its Middle East links page, which include LAW – a leading NGO in the notorious Durban conference, ad-Dameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization, and al-Awda, an NGO promoting the Palestinian ‘right of return’ and destruction of Israel.
In conclusion, while the MCC initially appears to operate in a politically neutral manner, a closer examination reveals a highly politicized agenda spreading anti-Israel propaganda and hatred through the "Peace Office Newsletter" and other activities. Despite the technical disclaimers, the MCC is fully responsibility for diverting the resources provided for humanitarian activities and abusing them for political incitement and demonization of Israel.