Founded in 1988 by Barbara Lubin, the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) describes itself as “a non-profit organization working for justice in the Middle East, focusing on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel and Occupied Iraq.” Viewing the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples, respectively, as victims of American and Israeli oppression, MECA claims that since its inception it has “brought over $8 million of much needed relief to besieged communities in Iraq and Palestine through emergency medical aid and direct aid to families and communities.” Among the projects funded by this organization are: children’s clinics and family mental health projects in various refugee camps throughout what MECA calls the “Occupied West Bank and Gaza,” as well as various community projects for children including, playgrounds, libraries, and youth centers.
“Our work in the United States,” says MECA (which calls the U.S. occupation of Iraq “illegal” and accuses the U.S. of “purposefully” targeting civilian areas), “is centered … on educating North Americans about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the affect it has on children, families and communities there, and the connection these policies have to our own communities. Through public lectures, audio-visual, presentations, teach-ins, demonstrations, and community work we dispel the myths and raise awareness about the history behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the current situation in the Occupied Palestine and Occupied Iraq and the role of U.S. policy in maintaining and perpetuating instability and conflict in the Middle East. … We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people as they seek freedom from oppression and we support the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.”
MECA is a member organization of International ANSWER’s steering committee, the Justice in Palestine Coalition, the Middle East Policy Advisory Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Movement‘s divestiture project, the United For Peace and Justice antiwar coalition, and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
“[T]he Berkeley, [California] P.O. Box to which ISM supporters can send their tax-deductible donations matches that of the Middle East Children’s Alliance, one of the organizations that the ISM had previously used to launder money … The ISM’s website tells anyone wishing to donate now to make checks payable to A.J. Muste Foundation in New York and [to] write ISM-USA in the corner, but [the website] directs [that] the checks be sent to the Middle East Children’s Alliance for cashing.”
MECA’s Board of Directors and Board of Advisors have at one time or another included such individuals as the co-founders of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, James Abourezk and James Zogby; Ibrahim Abu Lughod (currently a member of the Palestine National Council); Fathi Arafat (the brother of Yasser Arafat); Noam Chomsky; Ramsey Clark; Ron Dellums (a socialist who is the current Mayor of Oakland, California, and who served as a U.S. Congressman in that state from 1971 to 1998); Gus Newport (MECA’s current President, the former Mayor of Berkeley, and the onetime General Manager of Pacifica Radio affiliate KFPA); Father William O’Donnell (a liberation theologian who was sentenced to a six-month jail term for protesting the School of the Americas); Edward Said (the late Columbia University professor and a member of the Palestine National Council); Maudelle Shirek (a former Berkeley City Council member suspected of having close ties to the Communist Party); Maxine Waters; and Leonard Weinglass.
MECA supports the Ibaada Center in the West Bank, which the Jerusalem Post describes as an indoctrination center that teaches Arab children to reject Israel’s existence and to support Palestinian terrorism aimed ultimately at conquering Israel by violence. The Center’s walls are festooned with scenes of terrorist “resistance.”
MECA has also promoted a clinic in Gaza, the Union of Health Work Committees, whose former manager was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.
MECA spokeswoman Penny Rosenwasser and Executive Director Barbara Lubin are both allied with the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party. MECA’s Political Education Coordinator is Uda Walker, who has visited American high-school campuses with the organization Voices in the Wilderness during school hours, and who has denounced U.S. foreign policy before audiences in the United Kingdom.
The Middle East Children’s Alliance’s recent activities include the following:
a 24-hour “Support Cindy Sheehan” vigil in San Francisco in August 2005
a September 24, 2005 antiwar march in San Francisco, where every conceivable aspect of American foreign policy came under attack. The rally’s themes included: “End Colonial Occupation: Iraq, Palestine, Haiti…”; “Support the Palestinian People’s Right of Return”; “Military Recruiters Out of Our Schools”; “Stop the Racist, Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Labor Offensive”; “U.S. Out of the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Afghanistan”; and “Stop the Threats Against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea.”
In 2004, MECA was a signatory — along with more than 200 other leftist organizations — to a letter exhorting members of the U.S. Senate to oppose Israel’s construction of an anti-terrorist security fence in the West Bank, characterizing the barrier as an illegal “apartheid wall” that violated the civil and human rights of Palestinians.