Christian Aid News No. 28 (Summer 2005)What needs to happen for Christian Aid News to give Israel a break? A very particular combination of factors, it appears: the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history; an impending G8 summit; the approach of Christian Aid Week; and a conflict in Africa which, for once, has caught the attention of the media, as well as having directly subjected Christian Aid’s local partners to human rights abuses. One might wonder whether a certain bold initiative from Ariel Sharon is also a contributing factor (better to say nothing at all than to acknowledge a positive development from the Israeli side).
For any Christian Aid supporters suffering withdrawal symptoms, there is this weekend's ‘Retreat conference’ on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Four speakers are billed:-
- Graham Sparkes of the Baptist Union is a trustee of Christian Aid
- Sarah Malian works for Christian Aid
- Pat Rantisi lives in Ramallah and is the widow of a Palestinian Christian priest
- Richard Burden MP is chair of the All Party Britain-Palestine Group in Parliament
Interviewed in the feature on Darfur, Christian Aid’s Neill Garvie takes the media to task. ‘Today, Darfur has vanished from our television screens’, he complains, and then ‘Who cares about two million people after they’re out of the headlines’. As I have documented on this site, Sudan has not exactly featured very much in Christian Aid’s headlines in the first place – in fact this one feature takes up about as much space as was given to Sudan in the previous seven issues of the magazine (see also my last posting on Pressureworks). ‘Sanctimonious claptrap’ is, I’m afraid, the phrase I am inclined to coin here. Zimbabwe gets a brief article to itself – the first time in the eight issues I’ve surveyed. We learn that Zimbabweans are very poor, but in spite of Christian Aid’s stated commitment to ‘expose the structures and systems that make and keep people poor’ there is a remarkable coyness about naming the guilty man. In fact, the M-word doesn’t appear at all, and we are told that ‘Zimbabweans … re-elected the government’ without any mention of the massive flaws in this ‘election’. It looks as if Christian Aid’s Manichaean worldview has almost insuperable difficulty in accommodating an African nation that was made prosperous by a tiny minority of white farmers and then reduced to penury by a black despot. In the Christian Aid blame game the Israelis make much more satisfying villains.
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