I actually met Stephen Grabiner at the UK Limmud event at the end of last December at the University of Warwick. So this letter by Jack de Lowe regarding the publishing by the Jewish Chronicle of a controversial ad for charity collection for Gaza resonated:
To Stephen GrabinerChairman of the board of the JCAttached you will find an advertisement which appeared in your publication last Friday (August 15). DEC, the organising committee of several of the most anti-Israel organizations placed the ad most likely after receiving sponsorship by an undisclosed donor.As chairman of the JC board, are you aware of the position of most of the charities who make up DEC? 12 out of 14 of these organizations have anti-Israel positions on their websites.The Disasters Emergency Committee is an umbrella group comprising fourteen UK charities. The CEO of DEC is Saleh Saeed who was the former head of the Islamic Relief charity.The organizations which make up DEC are as follows (see my comments after each one):ActionAid lists their efforts in Gaza as "Occupied Palestinian Territory". Their website discusses "...the occupying force in Gaza." I wonder who the occupying force in Gaza they refer to?The British Red Cross Society is the United Kingdom branch of the worldwide impartial humanitarian organization the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. According to their website, "Right now, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is making sure ambulances can get to people in need, emergency healthcare is available and urgent repairs are made to water and sewage networks. With medical supplies running out, and water supplies to the Gaza Strip damaged, your donation is needed more than ever."CAFOD is the official Catholic relief organization in the UK. Their website contains the following appeal: "Gaza Crisis: Please email Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond now, to call on our government to act urgently to stop the violence - now and in the long-term." It should be noted that Foreign Secretary Hammond has been quoted as calling the Gaza situation ''intolerable.''CARE International is a major international non-sectarian, impartial, and non-governmental humanitarian agency delivering broad-spectrum emergency relief and long-term international development projects. Much of their work is true disaster relief, but amongst their projects there is the promotion of child literacy in Palestine"If you read the link, there is no mention about who provides the books involved and before donating I would want to make certain that the books being donated According to an UNRWA review, Palestinian curriculum"shows a continuing denial of the State of Israel''s right to exist and a continuing cultivation of the values of armed struggle against Israel. The books contain incitement against the State of Israel and the Zionist movement, one of them even employing anti-Semitism." Among the examples listed in the study: The books claim that the only ancient inhabitants of Israel were Arabs, ignoring any ancient Jewish presence: "Concentrated ... in the land of Al-Sham [Greater Syria] ... was the culture of the Canaanite and Aramaic peoples who migrated there from the Arab peninsula." The books teach that the First Zionist Congress fostered the Zionist State based on a secret decision of what came to be known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Zionism is presented only as an enemy movement: "The Palestinian people are under an oppressive siege, limiting their movement and way of life." The false claim is made that an "extremist Zionist" set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969 when in reality it was a mentally unstable fundamentalist Christian from Australia. Sites in Israel are "annexed" to Palestine: "Haifa is a Palestinian seaport", "Galilee, Nazareth and Beit She''an are regions in Palestine", The new Palestinian school books stress the importance of "return" of refugees to all of Palestine by violence: "Returning to the homes, the plains and the mountains, under the banners of glory, jihad and struggle."According to the Christian Aid website, "Recurring Israeli incursions and attacks, the Israeli blockade, and internal Palestinian conflict have all contributed to the fact that 75% of the population of Gaza is reliant on humanitarian aid for survival. In the West Bank, illegal Israeli settlements take up Palestinian land and water resources and create restrictions on movement that impede Palestinian access to education, healthcare and employment, as well as restricting the economy all contributing to poverty."Concern works to help people in the most impoverished countries. My only ''concern'' about Concern is that 9.1% of donations go to their fund raising effort. This is one of the two organizations that make up DEC with whom I have no problem as to their work.Age UK - one would think that this would be an organization for elderly people in the UK. Yet the first thing seen on their website is "Gaza Crisis Appeal."Islamic Relief - This is an organization with Hamas ties.Merlin - Read Fiona Campbell, Merlin''s Head of Policy, words which speak for themselves.Oxfam - their position on Israel and the Arabs is very clearly stated on their website.Plan UK is an organization that works with the world''s poorest children.The first thing we find on their website is "The plan to help 1.5 million people affected by the Gaza crisis, who are in urgent need of aid and assistance."Save the Children''s site reads: "Gaza Crisis: Donate now to help children"Tearfund - according to their website: "We''re following Jesus wherever the need is the greatest." This has brought their efforts to Syria, Southern Sudan, and much of Central Africa. This is the other organization in DEC with whom I have no problem as to their work and objectives.World Vision - from their website we read the following: "In especially vulnerable areas in the West Bank, children experience harassment and violence from soldiers and settlers. Because of demolitions, they also suffer from lack of adequate education facilities. Many of them must also often endure long commutes to school due to the construction of settler bypass roads. Home demolitions and evictions by Israeli authorities continue. Israeli checkpoints, road blocks, and the separation wall impede and restrict movement within the Palestinian territory.As a businessman myself, I know and understand how important advertising is for all newspapers, but The JC is supposed to represent the views of British Jewry and in this case you have missed the mark by a great distance. I am sorry to have to think that The JC puts its revenue over what should be its moral position.Jack de LoweRaanana, Israel
You might have seen that last week the Jewish Chronicle printed a full page Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza appeal advert which encouraged readers to donate to the humanitarian appeal. Some readers were so upset by the appearance of the advert that the Jewish Chronicle felt compelled to apologise for having offended some of its readers. The story made the mainstream press and I appeared on both the BBC World Service and the BBC London News to discuss the community''s response.Whoever one thinks is to blame for the current round of violence between Israel and Gaza, innocent civilians on all sides caught up in fighting deserve our compassion as Jews. The Disasters Emergency Committee are delighted to have the support of the Jewish community. If you would like to donate you can do so by clicking here or by texting YACHAD to 70000.There is an open letter circulating in support of the Jewish Chronicle’s decision to print the advert that you can sign by clicking here.