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Christian Aid denies it is biased in the Middle East: CEN 9.14.07 p 8.

By Church of England Newspaper
September 14, 2007

The relief agency Christian Aid has denied charges made by an Israeli research group that its reporting of events in the Middle East was biased, unfairly blaming Israel for the problems of the region.

NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem think tank, charged the relief agency promoted a pro-Palestinian agenda, and that its advocacy work abetted the conflict between Arabs and Israelis.

Christian Aid denied the charge of bias telling The Church of England Newspaper that “criticising the Israeli government for some of its policies, which we believe contribute to Palestinian poverty, is not the same as being hostile to the state of Israel.”

In a paper released on Aug 22 NGO Monitor stated Christian Aid offered a tendentious perspective of the conflict in the Middle East. It “minimizes terrorism and Palestinian responsibility for violence and corruption,” it said. The charity’s literature selectively uses legal terminology such as “war crimes” and “collective punishment” in its description of events and illustrates these charges with “highly emotive, yet unverifiable anecdotal accounts” of the conflict.

Christian Aid’s evidence of Israeli perfidy came from the “claims of highly politicized” Palestinian NGOs that lacked “credibility” it charged.

“These practices constitute a violation of Christian Aid’s stated position of being an ‘impartial’ group working toward peace and the alleviation of poverty. This one-sided political agenda is entirely inconsistent with the status of a registered charity,” NGO Monitor charged.

Christian Aid engaged in a “moral equivalency” that omitted the “context of terror.” Its “practice of blaming Israel for Palestinian hardship and for relieving Palestinians from responsibility for their own fate is incompatible with its objective of impartiality,” NGO Monitor said. Its “one-sided political agenda” was inconsistent with its charitable purpose.

A spokesman for Christian Aid denied the charge of bias, stating that while its work in the Middle East “can often be a source of contention” it remained “proud of our partners on the ground.”

Christian Aid’s Middle East and Afghanistan coordinator Sarah Malian said the organization was neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian, but “pro justice, pro peace, and pro poverty eradication.”

“We speak out on behalf of those who are living in abject poverty, who are marginalised and suffer human rights violations,” Ms Malian said. Christian Aid’s condemned all violence and its mandate is to expose the scandal of poverty, contribute to its eradication and to challenge structures and systems that keep people poor and marginalised.”

She said that many of the “root causes” of poverty, however, have “political dimensions” and “Palestinian poverty is no exception” noting the agency challenged governments on issues “directly linked to poverty.”

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