The roots of Mercy Corps (MC) can be traced back to 1979, when Dan O’Neill, who served on the White House Cambodian Crisis Committee under then-President Jimmy Carter, organized a task force called the Save the Refugees Fund, to raise money to help the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the famine, war, and genocide of Pol Pot‘s Cambodia. In 1981 O’Neill renamed his organization “Mercy Corps International” (later shortened to “Mercy Corps”), to reflect a broader humanitarian agenda: to “alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression” in regions beset by war, internecine violence, and natural disasters. Since its founding, MC has generated billions of dollars in aid to people in more than 100 countries. The organization’s unified global programs currently employ some 4,000 individuals in approximately 40 nations throughout Africa, North and South America, the Caucasus, Asia, and the Middle East. Because of MC’s “core belief in finding local solutions to local problems,” 93% of its field staff are people who hail from the countries where they work.
One of MC’s most significant initiatives is its Environment Program, founded on the premise that the carbon emissions associated with human industrial activity are responsible for “higher and more volatile global temperatures” worldwide. To address this problem, MC aims to help communities “adapt to environmental changes” by increasing their access to “clean energy”—especially solar energy. Toward similar ends, MC’s Disaster Preparedness Program helps communities around the world “identify, assess and reduce th[e] risks” associated with “climate change”—i.e., “increasingly erratic weather patterns” as well as “devastating storms, droughts and floods.”
MC has been particularly outspoken vis-à-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict, placing virtually all blame for Palestinian poverty and suffering directly on Israel. In one 2005 report, for example, Mercy Corps condemned the Jewish state for creating roadblocks, military checkpoints, and a physical barrier to regulate and restrict the flow of Palestinians from the West Bank into Israel. “The massive wall the Israeli Government is building,” said the report, “will further separate Palestinian communities, sever social and economic links, and block access to critical health and education services.” But there was no mention of the fact that these measures had been made necessary by a relentless Palestinian terror campaign that had killed more than 1,000 Israelis since 2001.
MC also objected to the fact that Hamas’s landslide victory in the Gaza political elections of January 2006 caused most Israeli tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, as well as most international aid to the PA, to suddenly stop. In June 2006, MC’s Senior Director of Program Operations, Jim White, lamented that these developments would result in a “humanitarian catastrophe” throughout Gaza.
In 2009, MC participated in producing a multi-NGO publication titled Failing Gaza: No Rebuilding, No Recovery, No More Excuses. This booklet falsely accused Israel of “occupying” Gaza and subjecting the Palestinian people to an “illegal and inhumane blockade” that constituted a highly oppressive form of “collective punishment.” It also stated that -Operation Cast Lead— a defensive military operation in which Israel targeted Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorists who were firing rockets and mortars at civilian communities in southern Israel—had “left a legacy of destruction and loss” in the now “shattered society” of Gaza. Other contributors to Failing Gaza included such groups as Amnesty International UK, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians, and Oxfam International.
Today the “West Bank & Gaza” section of MC’s website laments that the Gaza Strip “has been under a blockade [by Israel] since 2007, which has paralyzed its economy and led to severe shortages of water, electricity, food and fuel.” But MC makes no mention of the fact that the Israeli blockade was imposed out of necessity, in order to prevent Hamas from continuing to import deadly weaponry from allies like Iran and Syria—weaponry that in turn could be used against Israel.
MC’s website also features a section titled “Voices From Gaza,” which contains many one-sided testimonies from Gaza residents and local MC staffers who lived through Operation Pillar of Defense, an eight-day military campaign that Israel launched in November 2012 in response to a recent escalation in rocket fire by terrorists in Gaza. Again, however, MC is silent regarding those terrorist activities. Instead, the Palestinians are portrayed uniformly as victims who want only to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors.
MC has received funding from such sources as the American Express Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the European Union, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, George Soros‘s Open Society Institute, and the United Nations.
For additional information on Mercy Corps, click here.