Christian Aid apologizes for Nazi comparisons on Holocaust Memorial Day

February 07, 2010

* Christian Aid, one of the world’s largest anti-poverty NGOs, apologizes after comparing Shimon Peres to a Nazi on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day
* But other leading NGOs that have contributed to hatred against the state of Israel – in particular Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and The New Israel Fund (NIF) – have yet to apologize
* A recent former Trustee of Christian Aid, Baroness Jenny Tonge (who is also leading member of Britain’s Liberal Democratic party) is known for her support of Palestinian suicide bombers

(This is one of an occasional series of dispatches dealing with NGOs waging a political war against the state of Israel.)

 

CONTENTS

1. Christian Aid uses Holocaust Remembrance Day to say Israelis are Nazis
2. No one should forget what the Holocaust really was
3. Christian Aid: “An urgent review of our procedures is underway”
4. Letters to The Guardian: “Christian Aid can F*** off”
5. Christian Aid Watch, monitoring the anti-Semitism of Christian Aid
6. “Hamas sickened at being linked to [Britain’s] Liberal Democrats”
7. From left to right, Israelis are furious with “The New Israel Fund”
8. “Beyond criminal”
9. “Goldstone cannot possibly believe his report’s conclusions”
10. “Christian Aid’s anti-Israel blunders” (By Adam Levick, Guardian website, Feb. 5, 2010)
11. “We apologize unreservedly” (By Matthew Reed, director of marketing, Christian Aid)
12. “Slush fund” (By Ben-Dror Yemini, Ma’ariv, Feb. 2, 2010)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

CHRISTIAN AID USES HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY TO CALL ISRAELIS NAZI

Christian Aid, which is based in Britain, is one of the world’s largest anti-poverty NGOs. It chose January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, falling on the date of the liberation of Auschwitz, to issue an article containing a vicious attack on Israeli President Shimon Peres, accompanied by pictures of Holocaust victims juxtaposed with photos of Palestinians. The article, by Jody McIntyre, appeared in Christian Aid’s new British-based online youth publication, “Ctrl.alt.shift”. Christian Aid has allowed McIntyre to become the website’s most frequent contributor on Israel, despite her record of posting diatribes against the Jewish state on The Electronic Intifada and elsewhere.

Below, I attach an article condemning Christian Aid by Adam Levick, a researcher at NGO Monitor. (By way of full disclosure, I am on the international advisory board of NGO Monitor.)

In his article, which appears in Comment is Free, the online section of The Guardian, Levick writes: “That such an odious essay would appear at all on the pages of a mainstream ‘humanitarian’ organization’s website is highly disturbing. In the past, Christian Aid has assured critics that it is not anti-Israel, but simply ‘pro-justice, pro-peace, and pro-poverty eradication’. This claim is undermined by the fact that the target of this recent attack, Shimon Peres, is the Israeli statesman perhaps most associated with peace, accommodation, and co-existence.

“While the article suddenly disappeared without explanation six days after it was published [but has since been republished by The Guardian -- TG], the highly inflammatory rhetoric it contained – published on the memorial day for millions of Holocaust victims – is not an isolated incident on Christian Aid’s new website. Many other posts contain similarly hateful commentary about Israel.”

Christian Aid describes Ctrl.Alt.Shift as an “innovative youth project giving voice to the impassioned desire to change the world felt by… young people [16-25 years old] and to fight against global poverty and social injustice”.

 

EXTRA NOTE: NO ONE SHOULD FORGET WHAT THE HOLOCAUST REALLY WAS

Holocaust distortion (rather than outright Holocaust denial) has now emerged as one of the most evil and effective tactics of Fascists of both Left and Right. They have succeeded to the extent that there are now many examples of Holocaust distortion creeping into mainstream media and academic discourse.

As a small contribution in efforts to counter this, this weblist occasionally highlights articles containing accounts of what the Holocaust actually involved. Please, for example, read the following dispatch again: “By the time the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz, my father was no longer there”.

That dispatch includes, among other items, pieces by two journalistic subscribers to this email list about the experience of their parents: “A factory for death” (by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby) and “My mother remembers the day she saw through the camp wire that her school friend from Amsterdam, Anne Frank, had arrived in Belsen” (by Danny Finkelstein, of The Times of London).

(Incidentally, on January 27, as the Christian Aid article was being published, President Peres was making a historic speech – delivered in Hebrew – to the German Bundestag, at the invitation of German President Horst Koehler and Chancellor Angela Merkel to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.)

 

“AN URGENT REVIEW OF OUR PROCEDURES IS UNDERWAY”

It was only after Adam Levick’s article appeared – eight days after Christian Aid’s article on Shimon Peres was published – that the organization apologized.

Matthew Reed, director of marketing at Christian Aid, writes:

“Christian Aid apologises unreservedly for the article that appeared… Christian Aid also apologises for the deep offence caused by the timing of the article – Holocaust Memorial Day – and the use of Holocaust images alongside the article… [An] urgent review of [our] procedures is underway.

“Christian Aid repudiates the suggestions made in the article about the Israeli President Shimon Peres. All sides to the conflict bear responsibility for atrocities that have taken place…”

 

LETTERS TO THE GUARDIAN: “CHRISTIAN AID CAN F*** OFF”

Most letters to The Guardian in response to Levick’s article defended Christian Aid and viciously attacked Israel, Jews in general, NGO Monitor and Shimon Peres. The Guardian’s web editors have removed some of the most blatantly anti-Semitic readers’ comments (in contrast to The Times of London which has left up unquestionably anti-Semitic readers’ comments after its anti-Israel news articles).

Among those few online letters that condemned Christian Aid published by The Guardian is the following:

“I always had Christian Aid down as the right guys and gave when they came round with their little envelopes. As it now turns out that they are foul anti-Semites (I’ve read the original article, and then gone and had a wash) and they can fuck off the next time they knock on my door. Why should I give money to pay people to write filth like that? Even if its contents were true, which they aren’t, and its imagery acceptable, which it isn’t, what possible job is it of Christian Aid, or their donors, to publish material like this?”

 

CHRISTIAN AID WATCH, MONITORING THE ANTI-SEMITISM OF CHRISTIAN AID

Tom Gross adds:

None of this is new. Christian Aid, like several other prominent NGOs (the worst is probably War on Want), has been involved in anti-Israeli propaganda for years.

The website, ChristianAidWatch, which is run by a Christian trying to combat anti-Semitism perpetrated by his fellow Christians in the guise of anti-Zionism, has run several posts in the past highlighting the problem.

For example, this post highlights a statement by a former Trustee of Christian Aid, Baroness Jenny Tonge (who is also leading member of Britain’s Liberal Democratic party, a party which could conceivably hold the balance of power after this spring’s British general elections. Employing classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, Tonge said:

“The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip on our party.”

 

“HAMAS SICKENED AT BEING LINKED TO LIBERAL DEMOCRATS”

As I have outlined in past dispatches, Tonge has previously praised Palestinian suicide bombers who murdered Israeli schoolchildren, and she also led a minute’s silence by British MPs for Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin, after his death in 2004. (Last item here.)

Since then, she has been elevated by her party from the House of Commons to the House of Lords.

While the British Conservative Party denounced her comments praising Palestinian suicide murderers as “sickening,” The Guardian described Tonge (who is also a children’s doctor as) “a veteran community doctor” and “a pragmatic liberal.”

At the time, my friend the Daily Telegraph Parliamentary sketchwriter, Frank Johnson (who has since passed away), wrote about the incident with biting humor:

“... Less widely reported was that a Palestinian suicide bomber caused equal outrage by saying that, were she British, she might just become a Liberal Democrat MP. She was immediately called in by the Hamas chief whip and had her bomb withdrawn.

“A Hamas spokesperson said: ‘Her comments would have sickened those Conservatives across England who over the years have lost seats to Liberal Democrats.’ The bomber had said: ‘I do not condone Liberal Democrat policies, but I do understand, having been to Britain and seen the way that Britons have to live, why people there adopt this most desperate of actions of joining the Liberal Democrats, and in some cases, voting for them...’”

***

Tom Gross adds: Jenny Tonge has been promoted since her pro-suicide bomber comments, and the Liberal Democrat website now lists as “an expert on the Middle East”.

 

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, ISRAELIS ARE FURIOUS WITH “THE NEW ISRAEL FUND”

There is also ongoing fury in Israel from politicians across the political spectrum against the American and British-based charity, The New Israel Fund (NIF), following revelations that the NIF funded NGOs responsible for “92 percent” of the lies about Israel contained in the widely-discredited but nonetheless damaging Goldstone Report. (Those same organizations received almost $8 million from the NIF last year.)

Members of the Knesset from various parties have called for a full investigation into the NIF, which is for the most part funded by liberal Diaspora Jews (unlike its counterpart, J Street, which gets lots of funding from Arab sources).

In one of many articles in the Israeli press criticizing the NIF in recent days, commentator Ben-Dror Yemini (who is a long-time subscriber to this email list) writes in Ma’ariv:

“The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people’s right to self-determination.

“The New Israel Fund is angry. It thinks that it is correct to spread false testimony about the State of Israel. It thinks that it is OK to participate in the demonization campaign of groups whose goal is to eliminate Israel. It thinks that it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, even though it was established by the automatic majority of dark dictatorships that controls the ‘UN Human Rights Council.’

“… But there is something else that is also legitimate: Expose the truth about the Fund and the groups that falsely carry the description ‘human rights.’ If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – then do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.”

(Full article below.)

(Ma’ariv also ran a major expose of the New Israel Fund on its front page, written by Ben Caspit, a senior Ma’ariv columnist whose politics are left of center.)

 

“BEYOND CRIMINAL”

Tom Gross adds: The New Israel Fund, like Christian Aid, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, often engage in good work. But this doesn’t excuse much of their political activity which has nothing to do with human rights or social well-being, but everything to do with supporting the aims of Hamas, the Iranian regime and other human rights abusers.

There are hundreds of millions of people in desperate need of help the world over. It is beyond criminal for these groups to solicit money for worthy causes and then instead use some of the funds raised to, in effect, promote groups campaigning to demonize and eventually to destroy the Jewish state.

Jewish groups in Melbourne, Australia, have canceled an NIF-fundraiser this week after the controversy over the NIF erupted in Israel.

The NIF was also criticized last year for funding an Arab-Israeli anti-Zionist feminist group which produced a poster suggesting – wrongly – that Israeli soldiers raped Palestinian women.

To be fair to the NIF, they also authorized grants of over $12m which went to NGOs unconnected to the Goldstone report.

***

Among previous recent dispatches on HRW, please see:

* HRW senior staff compare Israeli conduct to the 3.5 million dead and raped in Congo (Oct. 23, 2009)
* Israel criticizes Human Rights Watch for its fundraising from Saudi regime (Aug. 17, 2009)

To remind readers, Judge Richard Goldstone was until last year a board member of HRW, and his report accusing Israel of “war crimes and possible crimes against humanity” greatly resembles some of the HRW reports published earlier last year.

HRW continues to denounce Israel. In its latest pronouncement, it criticizes the British government’s “unfortunate intervention over Tzipi Livni’s arrest warrant” saying that Livni, the leader of Israel’s opposition Kadima party and a long-time campaigner for a two state solution, should be prosecuted for war crimes – on the basis of the concocted evidence HRW themselves supplied to Goldstone.

 

“GOLDSTONE CANNOT POSSIBLY BELIEVE HIS REPORT’S CONCLUSIONS”

In a series of dispatches last year, I carried articles by many commentators concerning Richard Goldstone and his UN report. Among them was one by Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard lawyer.

Dershowitz (who is a longtime subscriber to this email list) now adds:

“In light of the hard evidence, that is easily accessible online and in the media, Goldstone cannot possibly believe that Hamas did not intentionally use human shields, have their fighters deliberately dress in civilian clothing and use mosques and hospitals to store rockets and other weapons. Videotapes conclusively prove these charges, and Hamas acknowledges – indeed boasts of – them.

“He cannot possibly believe that Israel used the thousands of rockets that Hamas directed against its children as an excuse, or a cover, for its real goal, namely to kill as many Palestinian civilians as possible.

“Nor could he possibly believe that the Israeli government made a policy decision, at the highest levels, to deliberately target Palestinian babies, young children, women and the elderly for murder. All the evidence points away from these wild charges. Yet he signed a report asserting that those demonstrably false conclusions were true.”

[All above below by Tom Gross]


FULL ARTICLES

CHRISTIAN AID’S MORAL STANDING CONTINUES TO BE ERODED

Christian Aid’s anti-Israel blunders
By hosting vicious attacks on Israel, Christian Aid is destroying its reputation as a non-partisan charitable organisation
By Adam Levick
Comment is free (online only article on the website of The Guardian)
February 5, 2010

Christian Aid, one of the world’s largest anti-poverty NGOs, chose 27 January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to issue a vicious attack on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres. An article headed “Peres: War Criminal and Proud”, written by the anti-Israel ideologue Jody McIntyre, appeared in Christian Aid’s new UK-based online youth publication, Ctrl.alt.shift. McIntyre – the website’s most frequent contributor on Israel – branded Peres (a former Nobel peace prize winner) a war criminal.

This vitriolic commentary was accompanied by photos juxtaposing images of what appear to be (presumably Jewish) victims of Nazi genocide with photos of dead Palestinians, to advance the abhorrent impression of a moral equivalence between Israel and Nazi Germany. Such ugly charges are typically levelled only in explicitly antisemitic and extremist publications. That such an odious essay would appear at all on the pages of a mainstream “humanitarian” organisation’s website is highly disturbing.

In the past, Christian Aid has assured critics that it is not anti-Israel, but simply “pro-justice, pro-peace, and pro-poverty eradication”. This claim is undermined by the fact that the target of this recent attack, Shimon Peres, is the Israeli statesman perhaps most associated with peace, accommodation, and co-existence. While the article suddenly disappeared without explanation six days after it was published, the highly inflammatory rhetoric it contained – published on the memorial day for millions of Holocaust victims – is not an isolated incident on Christian Aid’s new website. Many other posts on Ctrl.Alt.Shift by McIntyre, who also blogs for the Electronic Intifada website, contain similarly hateful commentary about Israel.

In one post, McIntyre refers to Zionism as a “racist ideology with the sole aim of stealing the land of Palestine and expelling Palestinians from their country”. Christian Aid describe Ctrl.Alt.Shift as an “innovative youth project giving voice to the impassioned desire to change the world felt by… young people [16-25 years old] and to fight against global poverty and social injustice”.

The publication may be new, but the organisation’s attempt to reach out to the youth market by engaging in Israel-bashing is not. Christian Aid’s promotion of a youth-oriented anti-Israel agenda was evident back in 2004 with the launch of a website called Pressureworks. The site drew attention to Christian Aid’s highly politicised and misleading report, Facts on the ground: The end of the two-state solution? The recommendations section of the report is notable for its complete absence of any call for Palestinians to end terrorism, which, by that time, had already claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives, including scores of children.

While the anti-Israel venom advanced in Ctrl.Alt.Shift is especially egregious, the broader context should not be lost. As NGO Monitor has previously reported, Christian Aid has a well-documented history of promoting a distorted narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its reports myopically focus on alleged Israeli “violations” and seriously underplay the impact of Palestinian terrorism, as well as the threat posed by terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, who openly call for Israel’s destruction.

To salvage its reputation as a non-partisan, charitable endeavour offering constructive approaches to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Christian Aid must attempt to develop greater accountability for such negative agendas within its organisation. Its leaders must act now to create a comprehensive set of ethical guidelines for all of its publications and initiatives. Without a meaningful re-examination of funding practices and activities such as Ctrl.Alt.Shift, Christian Aid’s moral standing, and its ability to have a positive impact, will continue to be eroded.

 

AN APOLOGY

Matthew Reed, director of marketing, Christian Aid, writes in response to the above article:

Christian Aid apologises unreservedly for the article that appeared. It was written by an outside contributor and was taken down immediately it was brought to the attention of senior staff. Christian Aid also apologises for the deep offence caused by the timing of the article – Holocaust Memorial Day – and the use of Holocaust images alongside the article.

The incident exposed shortcomings in the moderation procedures for the Ctrl.Alt.Shift website and an urgent review of these procedures is underway.

Christian Aid repudiates the suggestions made in the article about the Israeli President Shimon Peres. All sides to the conflict bear responsibility for atrocities that have taken place. Singling out one to the exclusion of others will not advance the cause of peace.

Christian Aid believes that only dialogue between all parties can achieve lasting peace and a viable solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Christian Aid has always been unequivocal in its support for the security of Israel and the rights of all Israeli people to live safely and securely. While deeply regretting this particular incident, Christian Aid will continue to press for Palestinians to be afforded the same rights as Israelis.

Ctrl.Alt.Shift is an innovative youth project launched by Christian Aid last year to give a voice to the many British young people who, according to research we commissioned, are keen to understand and get involved in global development issues. It is a forum for debate, and that debate is often impassioned. In this case, however, the material was clearly inappropriate.

 

“JOINING THE GLOBAL DECEPTION CAMPAIGN”

Slush fund
By Ben-Dror Yemini
Ma’ariv
February 2, 2010

(Translated from Hebrew)

The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people’s right to self-determination.

The New Israel Fund is angry. It thinks that it is correct to spread false testimony about the State of Israel. It thinks that it is OK to participate in the demonization campaign of groups whose goal is to eliminate Israel. It thinks that it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, even though it was established by the automatic majority of dark countries that controls the “UN Human Rights Council.” It thinks that it is OK for Israel to cooperate with the Commission even though no country in the free world supported its establishment. It is certainly legitimate, in a democratic country, to do all these things.

But there is something else that is also legitimate: Expose the truth about the Fund and the groups that falsely carry the description “human rights.” If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.

For example, the New Israel Fund supports the Zochrot non-profit association, which openly aspires to eliminate the State of Israel via the realization of the “right of return.” Not that there is any such right and not that there has been even one precedent of a mass “return” after post-war population exchanges – but this does not bother the Fund. It always jumps at the slogan “human rights.”

None of this is to say that Israel is exempt from criticism. Among the hundreds of claims, there are those that have merit. But many sane people abhor the human rights bodies, not because they abhor human rights, on the contrary. It is because most sane people are fed up that human rights have become a weapon for dark forces.

The New Israel Fund has turned itself into yet another body, one among many in the world, that are party to global deception. There are a million and one attacks on human life and human rights in the world. Israel, as a state in the midst of conflict, makes fewer attacks than any other element. This has been verified. This is anchored in numbers. But it is Israel that absorbs most of the criticism. This is called demonization, delegitimization and obsession.

There is no defense of human rights here but rather an orchestrated campaign in the service of Iran and Hamas. This is not the Fund’s intention but this is the result. Things should be called by their name. Most of the groups supported by the Fund deal in the delegitimization of Israel. But the Fund rolls its eyes and whines: What is wrong with human rights? There is nothing wrong. There is something wrong with those who clearly aspire to deny the Jews’ right to exist in the only place where they have sovereignty, in order to turn Israel into a “state of all its citizens,” in which the majority will be Hamas supporters. There is something wrong with those who want to perpetrate politicide on only one people in the world. There is something wrong with those who collaborate with dark forces and try to sell the lie that it is all about “human rights.”

How is it that so many people, mainly Jews, support the Fund? How is it they facilitate this systematic campaign that masquerades as humanitarian and is, in effect, demonic? They are not anti-Semites. They are people with good intentions. Their rhetoric deals with human rights and minorities. Jews are sensitive to this and good for them. Most are simply unaware. Most truly and innocently want Israel to be more enlightened and more progressive, and stricter about human life and human rights. But they do not know that the money goes to other goals.

Even Professor Naomi Chazan, who heads the Fund, does not hate Israel. But what has happened to countless bodies that deal with “the rights talk” has happened to them. In the end, they serve the agenda of Iran and Hamas.

Human rights groups can restore the confidence in themselves. They need to support human rights, not groups that deal in denying Israel’s right to exist. In the meantime, these groups, including the New Israel Fund, are the major enemy, not only of Israel but of the free world and human rights.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.