American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) was founded in 1968 as a “non-profit corporation organized for the purposes of extending direct financial assistance and/or gifts in kind to Palestinian-Arab refugees and other needy individuals in the Middle East.” It operates in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Jordan to “create opportunity and hope by improving health care and education and stimulating job creation.” In the fiscal year 2005 ANERA distributed $24 million for development assistance and emergency relief.
In 2005, funding for ANERA included over $9 million from the U.S. government (via USAID), which was designated to help finance a variety of projects in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan. Other sources of funding include the International Monetary Fund, the UN World Food Program, and a variety of NGOs, private companies and individuals. ANERA also lists Adalah — an Israeli NGO that uses human rights claims against Israel to pursue a pro-Palestinian political agenda — as one of its donor partners.
ANERA practices a high degree of transparency, particularly in comparison to other Palestinian NGOs, and the bulk of its resources are used to promote the stated objectives of assisting Palestinians in health, education, job creation and other areas. It supports a range of charitable and non-political project partners in their work, which includes the construction and refurbishing of community centers, sidewalks, and hospitals; the distribution of medical supplies; and the implementatuion of educational scholarship and IT training programs. ANERA’s most recent project is a partnership with Intel to build an “Intel IT Center of Excellence” at the Islamic University of Gaza.
However, as noted in its financial reports, ANERA also spent $300,000 in 2005 on what it calls “public education.” This aspect of its activities is highly political. In its Fall 2005 newsletter, for instance, ANERA drew a moral equivalence between victims of suicide bombings and the bombers themselves, when it presented figures for the number of Palestinians or Israelis killed since the start of the Intifada, with no explanation of the circumstances under which they died.
In field reports to the Board of Directors, written by ANERA President Peter Gubser, Israel is blamed for all Palestinian suffering. The April 2005 report described how “shelling and missile attacks caused severe damage” during “[I]sraeli military incursions into the Northern Gaza Strip.” The report omitted any mention of the Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians that had prompted the Israeli response and implies that Israel’s actions were unprovoked. The security barrier was also described, along with the “700 checkpoints and other physical obstacles blocking [Palestinian] travel on roads,” while the spate of Palestinian terrorist attacks that had necessitated those measures was unmentioned. Gubser’s biannual reports commonly recycle familiar Palestinian political slogans, referring, for example, to Gaza as “a big prison.” Similarly, Dr. Thomas Neu, the ANERA Middle East Representative based in Jerusalem, claims that “Israel’s closure policy is responsible for malnutrition”; he also signed a petition condemning the “daily terror and war that Israel is inflicting with impunity”.
This profile is adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.