Latest posts on Christian Aid

Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Left foot forward: Christian Aid and its mistakes

Christian Aid and Israel. There's been enough material for an entire conference just lately - and I reckon it's about time somebody organized one.

What was Christian Aid doing the other day issuing a press release which alleged sexual abuse of Palestinian schoolgirls by Jewish settlers? Answer: it was a mistake. Very sorry.

We all make mistakes, don't we? It's just that sometimes our mistakes say a lot about us. This one speaks volumes about the culture that prevails inside Christian Aid. You don't turn verbal abuse into sexual abuse unless you already have a strong disposition to think the worst of those accused. And this is not the first mistake of its kind.

In February Christian Aid's youth website "Ctrl alt shift" carried - on International Holocaust Remembrance Day - an article by a young fanatic which accused Shimon Peres of being a war criminal and equated the dead of Gaza with those of the Holocaust. As Adam Levick wrote at Comment is Free, "Such ugly charges are typically levelled only in explicitly antisemitic and extremist publications". Whilst there was no mistake on the writer's part, Levick's piece prompted what was apparently an official response from Christian Aid (though it has now strangely disappeared from the comments thread). Said marketing director Matthew Reed:-

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

Very sorry indeed.

Then, just a few days later, it was the turn of Christian Aid's favourite politician to wipe some egg off her face. Baroness Tonge had, of course, suggested that the allegation that the Israeli Defence Force were in Haiti to harvest organs merited an investigation.

So, so, so sorry.

(at least, she was when called into the boss's office)

Three mistakes, but not three accidents. Put them together and you get an entirely coherent picture of what Jews are like when they get their own state.
  • They go to one of the poorest countries on Earth in the wake of a disaster, posing as helpers but in fact on the lookout for body parts to steal.
  • They do things which are as bad as herding men, women and children into camps and murdering them with poison gas.
  • And, they sexually abuse Gentile children.
Each "mistake" ratchets up the hysteria one more notch, makes it a little easier to look at a Jew and see a monster.

How can anyone even moderately acquainted with the history of anti-Semitism - and specifically the history of Christian anti-Semitism - fail to hear alarm bells ringing?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summonsed by Bell: spinning against Israel in the name of Britain's Christians

'For the latest comments on Israel from Christian Aid see:

'Does Mr Grumpy have anything to say about this?'

- asks commenter David.

Well, David, due to the way the portfolios have been divvied up here I'm afraid you'll have to make do with the Nick Clegg to Grumpy's Cameron. Rest assured, though, that my remarks have been cleared by the big boss.

So, yes, meet William Bell, Christian Aid's "Advocacy Officer for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory". The man, in other words, who, with the blessing of my church (and forty others large and small), has a full-time job spinning against the Jewish state. David, I hardly know what to say (apart from everything I've been saying here for the past five years).

I'd just like to know what makes William Bell tick. Perhaps he will stumble on this and enlighten me. Does he ever turn on the radio in the morning and think "Gosh, those poor people in Tibet/Burma/Zimbabwe/Darfur... They could really do with a bit of advocacy. I'll have a word with the boss and see if I can talk him into broadening my job description."?

Or does he wake up every morning saying to himself, "What a dream of a job mine is. For if I wasn't able to speak out against the Most Evil State in the World, who else would?"?

And if that's the way it is, if it isn't about Jews, what is it about?

This particular effort from Mr Bell reveals quite a lot about the way he operates. Like any good lobbyist he can take any story and spin it on his clients' favour. Here the starting point is Israel's admission to the OECD. I'd say this accolade for the country's thriving economy was something to celebrate, on the whole. But for Mr Bell the Israeli glass is half empty at the very best. Not a proper democracy, he mutters. Unlike all those proper democracies for which the rest of the Middle East is famed. Again, I'd say it's little short of a miracle that Israel has stayed democratic through 60 years of staving off threats to its existence. No credit given by Mr Bell, though: "civil society [...] under threat [...] repression [...] intimidation [...] undermine human rights defenders [...]". Etc etc.

Does Christian Aid ever condemn Sudan, or any of the world's despotisms, in anything like these forthright terms?

I tried googling "Christian Aid Sudan repression". The first hit was the paid-for Christian Aid Week link. The second was an item on Ethiopia with a passing reference to Christian Aid. The third was a press release from the Disasters Emergency Committee, of which Christian Aid is of course a prominent member. It was issued in 2004. Of criticism of the Sudanese government there is not one word.

A little further down the list came Christian Aid's Sudan page. Still no word of criticism of the government. Maybe it's on the linked "Our work on conflict" page? Oh dear. We learn that they deliver urgent aid in Darfur, however:-

'But our experience has also told us that our response to conflict needs to be even more far-reaching than the delivery of humanitarian assistance, however important that may be.'

That's the lead in to a section headed "Speaking out". So this must be where they've put the hard-hitting criticism of the Sudanese regime, right? Wrong. Six paragraphs: one on Colombia, one general, four on... need I continue?

After this you won't be too surprised to learn that there is no Christian Aid Advocacy Officer for Sudan. And with that, back to William Bell.

What is it that has triggered Mr Bell's doom-laden pronouncements on the state of Israeli democracy? Simply this: there are moves afoot in the Knesset to limit the political activities of NGOs like, well, Christian Aid. Not, be it noted, that any laws have been passed; that it's even being talked about is enough.

NGOs in Israel enjoy freedoms which would be inconceivable under any dictatorship. That, of course, is one major reason why the BBC website tells us more about Israeli human rights abuses, real or otherwise, than those of any of the world's dictatorships (than all of the world's dictatorships put together, is the impression I often get). Every time anyone in B'Tselem blows their nose a BBC stringer is on hand with tape recorder running.

Israel is also remarkably tolerant of international NGOs coming to the country to pursue anti-Israel political agendas. Sometimes somebody is refused admission and headlines are made, but these are exceptions that prove the rule. I've written a lot about the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, a Christian Aid partner and in effect a training programme for anti-Israel propagandists. Their volunteers may face some hurdles in getting into Israel, but get in they do.

So whilst a retreat from this openness would certainly be cause for concern, it would also be comprehensible. It would be directly related to the way Israel's openness has been abused by NGOs like Christian Aid, the way they take the soft option of giving democratic Israel a hard time whilst mutely bending the knee to tyrants.

Here's a reminder of how much open scrutiny of their human rights Israel's enemies tolerate. Simple but effective: if you're going to do something unpleasant, make sure no journalists are watching. True, you might not be able to suppress the story completely. But there won't be any tear-jerking eyewitness accounts or any of those pictures that speak a thousand words. Obviously it also helps that because you're Hamas you can rely on the Beeb to insert a sideswipe at Israel by way of "balance".

So where was Christian Aid when Hamas were bulldozing poor people's shacks?

From just across the border comes another recent story, taking us back to that booming economy that's won Israel a seat at the OECD. A reminder of who's benefitting and who isn't - and why.

It's only a privileged minority of the human race that can afford to turn up its noses at a thousand dollars a month for picking coriander, even if it comes at the slight risk of falling victim to a rocket attack. It's good money in Thailand and it's good money in Gaza. It's certainly more than enough to ensure you won't need to look to Christian Aid to provide your next meal.

And it's money that used to flow into the Gazan economy. Until?

'But until the start of the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in 2000 when Israel tightened the border, thousands of Gazans used to travel daily through Erez to work on Israeli farms.'

Those smooth euphemisms for the campaign of mass murder directed at Israel's civilian population. Of course Israel turned off the flow of potential suicide bombers. What country on earth would not have done so? And now the Thais are doing the jobs Israelis won't do while Gaza has 40% unemployment. It's called shooting yourself in the foot - or it is if you think that the foot and the finger on the trigger have the same owner. If, that is, you count Hamas as the legitimate democratic representatives of the people of Gaza. What do you say, Mr Bell?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The lice and the fleas fight over the cadaver of Amnesty International

Martin Bright gives us an extract from Gita Sahgal's latest salvo against her former employers Amnesty International. He's impressed and one can understand why. Of course it is unconscionable that AI has been organizing gigs for an extreme Islamist, and in this matter Ms Sahgal has acted as a model whistleblower.

My own admiration for her is tempered by the fact that her job description at AI was "Head of the Gender Unit", meaning it was very much on her watch that Amnesty declared abortion to be a universal human right, with the corollary that unborn children have no human rights at all.

So this is, after all, no more than a turf war between two factions of leftist ideologues using Amnesty to promote their agendas. For both sides the most fundamental human right of all is negotiable. It was Dr Johnson who said that there is no settling the precedence between a louse and a flea; putting it another way, only if it can be arranged for both sides to lose does Amnesty stand a chance of recovering its original and noble vocation.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A fish called Humbug

"[Lord] David Alton [...] left the Lib Dems when he realised that they cared more about the rights of a goldfish than an unborn child", Cristina Odone recalled the other day.

I am sure there are strict regulations to ensure that no advert on Channel 4 ever promotes goldfish abuse.

I'm reminded of the questionnaire I was sent a couple of years ago by the Co-op Bank, whose customer I am largely as a hangover from past political affiliations. I was invited to tick boxes to indicate which ethical issues moved me. The idea of determining what is ethical by sending out a questionnaire is in itself a diverting one, is it not? David Cameron himself couldn't have done better. But the point on this occasion is that whilst there was a box by which I could have registered a concern that the bank should not invest in fur farming, any reference to the legalized culling of small humans was conspicuous by its absence.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Catching 'em young

'I do continue to make generous donations to Christian Aid via the Inland Revenue. I'd like to think the change of government will lead to some rather more rigorous questions being asked about what it is they do.'

- I wrote last week.

It's looking promising already:-

'Less than a week after becoming international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell began fulfilling his pledge to ensure value for money on aid by cutting development education projects.

'As part of "a drive to re-focus aid spending", Mitchell today announced an immediate funding freeze on five development "awareness projects", a move expected to save the department more than £500,000.


'The five cancelled projects are £146,000 for a Brazilian-style dance troupe in Hackney, London; £55,000 to run stalls at summer music festivals; £120,000 to train nursery school teachers about 'global issues'; £130,000 for a 'global gardens schools network' and £140,000 to train outdoor education tutors in Britain on development. The money saved will be "redirected to areas where it will have a greater impact on global poverty".'

(Hat tip: Julia M)

Allergy advice: this post may contain traces of schadenfreude. I've nothing against Brazilian-style dancing in Hackney except that it ain't overseas development, so they can jolly well join the arts funding queue like everyone else. But it's the nursery school teachers bit that's the dead giveaway, isn't it?

Andrew Mitchell is stressing the value for money angle, but he won't need telling that there's more to it than that. This is fat-trimming in the fullest sense, not just excess pounds we're lugging around but stuff that's positively bad for us. It's about the development business not only telling us how to think but doing it with our cash - cash that it can more or less help itself to because it's doled out by tame civil servants who already think all the right thoughts because they've been parachuted in from the development business. It's grown into a very cosy arrangement over the last thirteen years, and it's an arrogant, fundamentally undemocratic abuse of power.

And when the indoctrination starts in nursery school... what's not to like, as they say, about Mr Mitchell and his new broom? A word to the wise: I wouldn't count on him being a huge fan of Friends of Sabeel UK.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The liberal Inquisition

At the Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones is in complacent mood, suggesting the lack of reaction to the consecration of a lesbian Anglican bishop in America shows that "liberals have won the battle over the place of gay clergy in the Church".

As I've noted in two recent posts, the liberal (maybe that should be "liberal") orthodoxy isn't taking any chances, though. The Inquisition is in place. Christian dissenters can count themselves fortunate if they suffer nothing worse than being represented by Bishop John Spong's glib rhetoric as God-Hates-Fags bigots. The less fortunate, or less cautious, face being sacked or arrested. Burning at the stake is not on the menu - not yet, anyway.

Really it's much safer to be a daring radical like Bishop Spong, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's Christian Aid Week

(thanks to eChurch Christian Blog for cross-posting this post)

If you have overlooked the fact that this is Christian Aid week I'm sure you're in good company. There have been one or two distractions around. No little gnashing of teeth at CA HQ, I suspect.

Not that such a very political charity can really complain about being upstaged by politics, though. And in writing an update on Christian Aid I shall have no difficulty in making topical connections.

Actually my last big Christian Aid post, written in October, doesn't need very much updating. On their website a new policy paper on Gaza has increased the total of papers on Israel and Palestine from seven to eight. The combined total of papers on African regional conflicts, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Zimbabwe and Burma continues to stand at zero.

There is plenty to catch up on concerning someone who had a starring part in that October post, and this is where it gets topical. Take a bow Baroness Tonge, member of and former frontbencher for what is now our junior governing party.

In October her Ladyship was still a Lib Dem health spokesperson. Though fired by Charles Kennedy and reprimanded by Menzies Campbell, it seemed that Nick Clegg was more indulgent towards her extremist views. But in February she finally went too far for Clegg. To recap, Palestine Telegraph, a website of which she was then a patron, carried an allegation that IDF members supposedly delivering humanitarian aid in Haiti were in fact harvesting body parts. Quizzed about this by the Jerusalem Post, Tonge did not denounce the accusation as a disgusting anti-Semitic slur. Instead she called for an independent inquiry. Whether she felt the inquiry should also cover the killing of Christian children to provide blood to be baked in matzos was not clear - personally, I think there should be an inquiry to clear her name. Anyway, the upshot was that she was sacked - again.

I was with those who thought it was high time for Baroness Tonge to have the Lib Dem whip withdrawn from her. How many strikes does it take before you're out? But at least Nick Clegg did something. That's more than can be said of Christian Aid or the churches which sponsor it. It was business as usual at Friends of Sabeel UK, the Israel-demonizing partner "charity" of Christian Aid which still includes Tonge among its Patrons.

Let's be fair to the Baroness, though. Fast forward to 22 April:-

'Baroness Jenny Tonge has withdrawn her patronage of the Palestine Telegraph after the paper posted a video of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke claiming that Israel is a terrorist threat to America.'

Evidently even Tonge didn't feel that Duke could be covered by the "it's not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel" line. Commendable, though given that by this time we were in the thick of an election campaign, I'm not sure we can exclude the possibility that she had some help from a Higher Power in reaching her decision. Note that her fellow patron, the then Respect MP George Galloway, who is entirely is own master in such matters, has felt no need to resign.

Galloway also got a name check in my October post. Will his Klan connection move Friends of Sabeel UK to distance themselves from him? What about Interpal, whose coordinator Ibrahim Hewitt also continues to serve as a FoSUK Patron?

It may be that the members of my church who are collecting for Christian Aid this week share the fondness for Hamas of Baroness Tonge, George Galloway and Ibrahim Hewitt. But I really don't think so. I think they just want to give help to people who need it. If I believed the only way of doing that was to support Christian Aid, I might have signed up for some tin-rattling despite all my reservations. But it isn't.

I do continue to make generous donations to Christian Aid via the Inland Revenue. I'd like to think the change of government will lead to some rather more rigorous questions being asked about what it is they do. It certainly doesn't look as if the new man at International Development shares their pet obsession:-

'Andrew has a strong interest in conflict prevention, resolution and reconciliation. He served as a UN peacekeeper in Cyprus, and has twice visited Darfur, Sudan, with Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague MP and Conservative Party Leader David Cameron MP. He has also visited the Democratic Republic of Congo. His experience in these countries informed his 2007 pamphlet "The UN and the Failure to Protect", which made a number of suggestions for reform of the UN’s peacekeeping efforts.

'In March 2007 Andrew became the first senior British politician for many years to travel to Burma and meet the ruling junta. He delivered a robust message to the military regime about the need for a transition to democracy. He also met senior members of the National League for Democracy and leaders of the 1988 protests, and visited a camp for displaced people on the Thai-Burma border. He has followed recent events in Burma closely, and remains in touch with key figures in Rangoon. Andrew’s covertly-filmed video diary from the trip can be viewed on YouTube.'

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Another bigoted man

More in the same vein as my last post: the Pub Philosopher has a neat take on the latest story. Equally symptomatic of the way we're governed and hence deserving of being pondered on the way to the polling station.

One can only marvel at the potential this nonsense has to stir up ill-will where none was before. I've always taken what police officers get up to when they take off their uniforms as being a matter of supreme unconcern to me. But when gay coppers start getting allocated to special jobs where they don't have to bother with mundane stuff like clearing up burglaries because they're too busy taking DNA swabs from preachers...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A bigoted man?

Here's how it could work. A taxpayer-funded organization offering relationship counselling recruits counsellors who reflect the diversity of opinions on relationships to be found in our society. When it comes comes to counselling gay couples on enhancing their sex lives, many will have no problem whatsoever, some will prefer not do it. So couples seeking this service are matched up with counsellors who are happy to provide it - and why would the couples in question want it to be otherwise?

Everyone's happy. All the diversity balls are still in the air. It makes no difference to the principles at stake, but have you noticed that Gary McFarlane happens to be black? Actually, of course, it's rather more than coincidence. Members of ethnic minority groups are, on average, markedly more conservative about these matters than white Brits. More specifically, black Christians tend to be more conservative than white ones.

The reality is somewhat different from my imaginary scenario. Why? How are we better off? It's no answer to say that the law's the law and we can't go round making exceptions for all and sundry. The whole problem is that the law is not the law. For it's not as if Mr McFarlane is claiming a Biblically-endorsed right to engage in burglary with impunity. The law which has cost him his job has been created by politicians pursuing an ideological agenda, and in this it is typical of a large part of the avalanch of legislation unleashed on us since 1997.

We can test this claim by putting a simple question. Does Gary McFarlane's unwillingness to provide sex therapy for gay couples mean that he is unfit to work with the large majority of Relate clients who do not require this service? Naturally the answer is "No". There is no reason to doubt that he is an excellent counsellor, and if he is his sacking has done a disservice not only to him but to all the clients who are denied the benefit of his skills. So the law is the enemy of the common good.

There's nothing surprising about it having panned out this way. It was widely predicted when the legislation was going through Parliament. But its' sponsors were undeterred because their purpose was ideological. The law was to be used to enforce conformity, to suppress diversity in the name of diversity. Any Gary McFarlane who might dare to challenge it deserved to lose his job and to be made an example of. The right of conscientious objection could be granted in 1940 to those unwilling to help defend their country against Hitler, but the New Labour zealots will not exempt anyone from service in the war against political incorrectness.

Our rulers have pinned a label on Gary McFarlane. It says "just a bigoted man". Mr Brown, Ms Harman and the rest of you, your mike is live.