Why are Christian charities bashing Israel?

Unfortunately, mixed in with some Christian charities' good work is an alarming amount of hostility toward the Jewish state. It smacks of opportunism

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Dexter Van Zile
On 15 December 2012 12:12

The report details how Arabs are discriminated against in Israeli society and asserts that Israel has yet to reconcile the tension between “its identity as a Jewish state and its claim to be a democracy with equal rights for all.”

Yes, Arabs living in Israel do experience problems with discrimination, but the humiliating reality is this: They enjoy more rights and freedom and greater opportunity than Arabs in any other country in the Middle East – and they know it.

Consequently, 35 percent of the Arabs living in East Jerusalem would prefer to live in Israel if a two-state solution were achieved. Moreover, there has been a notable increase in the number of Arabs applying for citizenship in Israel since the Oslo Accords. Why? As one Israeli Arab said to journalist Khaled Abu Tomeah, "I prefer the hell of the Jews to the paradise of Hamas or Yasser Arafat."

And while Embrace the Middle East is obsessing about the impact of Israel’s Jewish character on the rights of its minorities the organization ignores an important fact. The Palestinian Constitution of 2003 states that Islam is the official religion of Palestine and that “the principles of Shari’a shall be the main source of legislation.” This sounds a lot like the constitution of Egypt, where the Coptic minority has endured great suffering over the years.

The irony is this: While Embrace the Middle East has invoked Israel’s Jewish character as an obstacle to human rights, it is carrying water for Palestinian leaders who are planning to turn the territory they control into an Islamic country where non-Muslims are by definition, second class citizens under Shari’a law.

Embrace’s board of trustees has, wittingly or unwittingly, made a choice to associate the good works of their organization with a patently obvious anti-Israel agenda.

Sadly, Embrace is not the only organization to go down this path. In the milieu of Christian non-governmental organizations, Israel-bashing is a great way to generate publicity.

The Christian charity, World Vision, is another offender on this score, offering a one-sided and distorted narrative about the Arab-Israeli conflict as part of its fund-raising efforts. For example, in 2008, World Vision published an article that bemoaned the plight of Palestinians living in Gaza without acknowledging that Hamas played a significant role in engineering the humanitarian crisis. It bemoans the Israeli-imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip, without acknowledging the Hamas violence that preceded it. In the narrative offered by World Vision, Palestinian suffering is all the fault of the Jewish state.

Another organization that uses the demonization of Israel to drum up interest from its supporters is the Church World Service (CWS). This organization divorced itself from the National Council of Churches (NCC) in the United State in 2000 in an effort to distance itself from the NCC’s overtly political agenda, which was harming its ability to raise funds.

The divorce hasn’t stopped the CWS, which states that it does not take side in conflicts, from engaging in a fair amount of anti-Israel propaganda over the years. For example, in 2006, it published testimony from a CWS-sponsored delegation in which pastors depicted Israel as worse than the apartheid system of South Africa.

One CWS sponsored pastor stated “What we saw at work in Israel was an odd kind of racism—for lack of a more precise term. ‘Ethnocentrism’ or ‘nationalism’ may more accurately describe the harsh and discriminatory actions of the Israeli government toward the Palestinians, who are also semites (sic).”

Come off it.

Israel sets the gold standard for human rights in the Middle East, treating its enemies, minorities and dissidents with far greater humanity than any other country, regime or political movement in the region. Instead of acknowledging this reality, Church World Service promoted the demonization of Israel.

Apparently, the people who run these charities have concluded that treating Israel fairly doesn’t help their bottom line and that anti-Zionism is an integral part of their brand.

Christ Himself would weep.

Dexter Van Zile is the Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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