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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Partners in Denial

My last posting mentioned one of Christian Aid's partner organizations, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. When I dropped in on their website to get the address to link to, I was curious to see what they had to say about the explosion at a Hamas victory rally in Gaza last Friday (23 September), which killed 16 people. Here's the heading from their press release two days afterwards.

2 Palestinians Killed, 24 Injured and a Number of Civilian Facilities Destroyed in 9 Israeli Aerial Attacks on the Gaza Strip

Two weeks following their redeployment in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) launched 9 aerial attacks in 22 hours on a number of targets throughout the Gaza Strip. In these attacks IOF extra-judicially killed 2 Palestinians, injured 24 civilians, including 7 children, while they were inside their houses, and destroyed a number of civilian facilities. This escalation has come in retaliation for home-made rockets fired by Palestinian gunmen on Israeli towns. The rocket attacks on Israel followed the claim by Hamas that Israel was responsible for a heavy explosion that occurred in Jabalya refugee camp on 23 September 2005, which killed 16 Palestinians and injured dozens of others.

A footnote informs us that 'PCHR is still investigating the circumstances of this explosion'.

Deep breath. PCHR relays Hamas's claim that the Israelis attacked the rally, and thus is able to discount the rocket attacks on Israel as a retaliation for the tragic explosion. The rockets are quaintly described as 'home-made' as if to reassure us that they were really quite harmless. No mention of the several people who were injured by them. The footnote is the only hint of the fact that not only the Israelis but also the Palestinian Authority say that it was Hamas's own rockets that exploded at the rally(and evidently packed quite a punch even if they were 'home-made').

A pretty good index of the credibility of Hamas's account is that not even the Guardian has used it as a stick to beat Israel with. If Seumas and friends had thought they could pin this one on Ariel Sharon they'd have had to revert to the broadsheet format to make space for the headlines and photos. Perhaps they have, after all, learnt something from the massacre that never was in Jenin.

I predict that we won't see the results of the PCHR's 'investigation' splashed across their homepage.

And yes, the outfit which churns out this preposterously one-sided propaganda really is bankrolled by the UK 'charity' Christian Aid. Christian Aid is an official agency of my church denomination and 38 others.

Back in July I posted an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury protesting against the Anglican Consultative Council's resolution commending divestment from Israel. I have received a letter from Lambeth Palace, which I want to return to in a subsequent posting. The letter draws my attention to the resolution's reference to investments supporting 'violence against innocent Israelis' as well as the Israeli occupation. I had thought this was a meaningless gesture of even-handedness, as churches are hardly likely to have investments in Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Thinking about it, though, if this wording means anything at all it must imply that churches considering a divestment policy should include indirect support for an organization like the PCHR - effectively an apologist for Hamas - within its scope. Ergo they would have to sever their links with Christian Aid. After all, it would hardly make sense for churches to set lower ethical standards for the charities they support than for their commercial investments.

Am I expecting divestment campaigners to see it that way? I'll give you one guess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What good reads your posts were, and food for thought, Cyrus. You have, quite reasonably, speculated about my religious and political views, so I hope you don’t mind my clarifying where I stand.

Firstly, the politics:

Personally, I find the evidence for Divine Providence behind the restored Jewish State and the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland very persuasive. But my support for the nation of Israel rests on more than that. The State of Israel was established by UN mandate, and it is unjust to demonise Israel because of her need to defend herself against the attacks of States and organizations which have refused to accept that UN mandate. The lies, distortions and pure hatred directed at Israel in the course of that demonisation simply add to my awareness of this injustice.

I do not support “Greater Israel”, I do not support any Divine Right of Israel to rule over the Palestinians. I do not oppose a Palestinian state at all. A peace loving Palestinian State which would permit some Jewish citizens to live there in the same way as over 1 million Arabs live in Israel, would be a blessing both to its Arab citizens and Israel. However, the picture which I see now is very different. I see a people seething with hatred of Israel and Jews, deliberately nurtured over the years. Palestine would be Judenrien – a truly racist state - united only by its hatred for its neighbour. I think a State based on such principles and attitudes would be a disaster for Palestinian and Israeli alike.

Secondly, my views on the ‘Christian-ness’ of Christian Aid.

I am not opposed to the employment of non-Christians within Christian Aid or any other Christian organization. But isn’t it obvious that an organization identifying itself as Christian should insist that its employees should at least be sympathetic to Christian theology and values. Your post described the incongruity of Christian Aid’s claim to be a Christian organization coupled with the lack of any distinctive Christian theology far better than I could, and I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Add to this Grayscale’s astonishment that an employee of Christian Aid should be expected to have any knowledge of Christianity or respect for the Bible, and we have the distinct possibility that ignorance of Christianity is at the heart of Christian Aid and not simply on the surface.

Grayscale implied that opposition to Christian Aid’s political position automatically means an objection to their working with needy Palestinians. This is as unjustified as it is untrue. What I object to is Christian Aid’s determination to lay the blame for Palestinian misery entirely at the door of Israel, and to ignore its root causes – the endemic corruption by officials of the PA, manipulation of refugees by neighbouring Arab states, and the deliberate, festering racism which led to the disastrous intifada.


Three cheers for Kim Howells (Junior Defense Minister) for talking some sense about the obligation of the PA to show some return for the billions of dollars that have been pouring in there for decades!