Today I took part in an event to raise funds to feed hungry people. The sponsoring agency was Church World Service (CWS), founded after WWII by various Christian denominations to help feed the population of devastated Europe.
Participants included members of our local Reform Jewish congregation, many Protestant churches and a mosque. I was assured that the event was entirely non-political, intended only to fight hunger.
Sounds great, and there are certainly plenty of hungry people today in Africa, Pakistan, etc. But when I looked at the CWS website, I discovered that CWS not only fights hunger, but also advocates and lobbies for ‘peace and justice’.
Uh-oh. It’s a sad state of affairs that these words must set off alarm bells, but they do. And sure enough, here’s what I found:
Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support the Obama Administration’s efforts toward a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tell them that you appreciate the Administration’s encouragement of both sides to get serious about meaningful negotiations, and you support its efforts to end Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian Territories.
And more: CWS presents with approval a vicious 2009 statement from some Christian Arabs, the “Kairos Document,” which begins as follows:
We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation, with a cry of hope in the absence of all hope, a cry full of prayer and faith in a God ever vigilant, in God’s divine providence for all the inhabitants of this land.
Inspired by the mystery of God’s love for all, the mystery of God’s divine presence in the history of all peoples and, in a particular way, in the history of our country, we proclaim our word based on our Christian faith and our sense of Palestinian belonging – a word of faith, hope and love.
It gets much worse from here on, blaming Israel for all the misfortunes of the Palestinian Arabs, especially the Christians — whose numbers are rapidly shrinking as they emigrate to escape the conflict and religious persecution by Muslims, attacking Jewish rights in the land of Israel, providing theological justification for ‘resistance’, etc. Incidentally, various versions of this document appear all over the web, on anti-Zionist and antisemitic sites.
Snookered again! Here I wanted to feed the hungry and ended up supporting those who would like to feed the Jewish state to the lions.
This started me thinking: what caused the ‘Palestinization’ of all of these organizations that were originally intended simply to help those in need or the truly oppressed?
CWS is just one of numerous charitable NGOs that have gone this way. Amnesty International (AI) was founded in 1961 to help ‘prisoners of conscience’ — people imprisoned for purely political or religious reasons. Human Rights Watch (HRW) was created to monitor human rights provisions of the 1978 Helsinki Accords, which called for “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.”
But recently AI and HRW cynically cooperated with the corrupt UN Human Rights Council to give birth to the tendentious Goldstone Report, which maliciously demonized Israel.
In some cases, political slants can be predicted by looking at funding sources. HRW, for example, gets most of its money from left-leaning foundations, including the Open Society Institute of George Soros; and last year it held a fund-raising dinner in Saudi Arabia. Other NGOs are funded by the European Union and other governmental sources which have a stake in pressuring Israel.
In the case of CWS, it’s not that easy. Surprisingly, 43% of its income comes from the US government, probably to pay for CWS’s work resettling Haitian and Cuban refugees in the US. It’s likely that its anti-Israel ‘advocacy’ is inspired by activists among its leadership. This is the same phenomenon which causes groups like trade unions, the Presbyterian Church, city councils, etc. to consider and sometimes pass ‘boycott Israel’ resolutions.
Most of the people who vote on these resolutions are not particularly interested in the Israeli-Arab conflict, but they have a general idea that Israel is oppressing some third-world people, and can be convinced to do the ‘right’ thing, since there is little effort involved and no personal consequences.
As a board member of a non-profit myself, I am well aware that members have pet projects, and that sometimes a director will support another’s project in return for a vote for his own.
All that’s required is at least one persistent, dedicated ideologue to introduce ‘Palestine’ as a cause, to get grants from sympathetic sources and hire like-minded staff, etc. In some cases, like HRW, it seems that issues concerning Israel come to crowd out most of the others.
There is no shortage of activists in the 36 member denominations of CWS, which include the Orthodox churches that most ‘Palestinian’ Christians belong to, as well as some others which themselves have passed anti-Israel initiatives.
I am certain that CWS does a great deal of good. But in fiscal year 2008-9, it also sent over $2 million to unspecified recipients in the Middle East (grants outside the US are not listed in detail on the form 990), and spent about $3 million on ‘education and advocacy’ — including lobbying — on issues including ‘justice and peace-building’, climate change, hunger, refugees, immigration, etc.
Next time I feel like fighting hunger, I’ll make a donation to a local food pantry.
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