Reply to Charles Clayton
Director, World Vision Jerusalem
September 23, 2004
Dear Mr. Clayton,
In your letter of 3 September 2004, responding to the NGO Monitor analysis of World Vision’s activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, you assert that "World Vision is in fact entirely different from this portrayal…"
We understand the desire to emphasize the good works of your organization, but the facts speak for themselves – NGO Monitor did not invent any of the highly politicized and biased statements made by World Vision and its officials. You also fail to address the systematic demonization of Israel’s defense of its citizens against Palestinian terror, such as those made by your Australian Chief Executive Tim Costello, who described Israel’s security barrier as "part of the problem, not part of the solution", and claiming incongruously that it "is reminiscent of the Cold War and Eastern Bloc oppression." This and other biased statements and misrepresentations of Israeli policy are entirely outside of World Vision’s claim to be a humanitarian organization.
Furthermore, you claim that "We are not interested in the wellbeing of one group at the expense of another, …and we grieve for the families of any victims of violence, whether they are Israelis or Palestinians." Again, these noble sentiments must be measured against World Vision’s activities. Showing some sympathy for Israeli victims does not in any way offset or validate anti-Israel political claims and prejudices in other dimensions of World Vision’s activities. As detailed in NGO Monitor’s analysis, your organization repeats many standard Palestinian historical myths and distortions surrounding the conflict and removes the context of Israeli security measures designed to protect innocent civilians from Palestinian terrorism, deceptively classifying such actions as "collective punishment".
Based on these and other examples, we strongly urge you and the other branches of World Vision to stop contributing to the political and ideological war against Israel that is being conducted by many self-proclaimed "humanitarian NGOs". This cynical exploitation of the rhetoric of good works to promote and even justify Palestinian hatred, and the terror that results, is fundamentally immoral.
We look forward to your response,
Gerald M. Steinberg
Editor, NGO Monitor
Letter from Charles Clayton, Director, World Vision Jerusalem
3 September 2004
Professor Gerald Steinberg,
Editor, The NGO Monitor
13 Tel Hai St.
Dear Professor Steinberg,
It was with surprise that I read your article about World Vision on the NGO Monitor website, claiming that we are giving "tacit support for terror" and have "a highly politicized agenda reflecting anti-Israel rhetoric and biased history, under the guise of development assistance and justice". We were especially disappointed that you did not contact us directly to discuss such concerns or request clarification beforehand.
World Vision is in fact entirely different from this portrayal; children and families are at the heart of our programmes. We work with communities, for example to help deaf children learn, poor children to remain in school, and traumatised children to regain a sense of well-being. We are not interested in the wellbeing of one group at the expense of another, but focus rather on the places where there is greatest need; and we grieve for the families of any victims of violence, whether they are Israelis or Palestinians.
In our publication Who Will Wipe Away Their Tears?, we gave the names of every child – Jew, Christian and Muslim – who died a violent death in this conflict from 2000 to 2003 and we called for an end to violence against children. As Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan of The Bereaved Families’ Forum notes, "It takes so little to kill a child and so much to keep it alive." She is the mother of a 14-year-old Jewish girl, Smadar, killed by a suicide bomber in 1997.
We are conscious of the complex history that has shaped the modern context for both Israelis and Palestinians, and we affirm the right of all people, whether they are Jews, Christians, Muslims or of any other faith, to live in security and with dignity.
Director, World Vision Jerusalem