- Gaza-based charity that does humanitarian work for Palestinian children, but also promotes extremist anti-Israel agendas
Professing to be “a non-political, non-religious enterprise whose aspirations are purely humanitarian” and “not connected with any militant” causes, the Gaza-based Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund (PCWF) seeks “to improve the living standards of the children … in the refugee camps inside Palestine”—specifically, by providing them with “better educational opportunities, health facilities and a bright future without violence, hatred and discrimination.” NGO Monitor confirms that PCWF, which derives most of its income from donations by individual supporters, has indeed “provided hundreds of children and orphans with scholarships and medical care in times of crisis.” For example:
* PCWF’s Union of Health Workers Committees project “provides medical services to needy children in Gaza and all other Palestinian cities”; recruits “experienced medical personnel to go to Gaza and other Palestinian cities to work and train the existing staff and provide professional and moral support” on a volunteer basis; and solicits donations of medical equipment and supplies, ambulances, medicine, and any material relevant to the operation of emergency rooms and hospitals.
* Through PCWF’s “Sponsor a Child” program, which is coordinated by the Holy Land Trust, donors send $10 per month to help pay for a given Palestinian child’s food, education, clothing, and medical care.
* In January 2002, PCWF initiated a “Book Campaign” to collect donated educational books, videos, cassettes, and software for Palestinian students of all ages, particularly in the fields of mathematics, natural science, and social studies.
But “these services,” NGO Monitor observes, “are conducted in a politicized environment” whose hallmarks are “extremist anti-Israel political and ideological activities” that “serv[e] only to advance a culture of violence and hatred,” and thereby “promote the conflict” between Arabs and Israelis.
For instance, one PCWF program that sells embroidery and clothing fashioned by Palestinian women in order to raise funds for the necessities of life in Gaza and the West Bank, has been known to sell t-shirts inscribed with poetry written in praise of suicide bombers.
In 2002, PCWF sponsored a drawing contest for children aged six through fourteen, entitled Why I Love Palestine. Almost without exception, the judges in this competition rewarded entries that conveyed an unambiguously violent hatred of Israel. The overall winner was a picture of a bonfire, in the shape of a map of Israel and bearing a Palestinian Authority logo, consuming the Israeli flag and its Star of David. Another entry showed a Palestinian flag dropping flames onto an Israeli flag and immolating a number of Jews in its vicinity.
To help finance the education of Palestinian children, PCWF has established a Rachel Corrie Scholarship Fund in honor of its namesake, a young International Solidarity Movement volunteer who was accidentally killed in April 2003 while attempting to interfere with Israeli anti-terror activities.
PCWF praises the Palestinian-American rapper Iron Shiek as a “brilliant … artist/activist” whose “bold and insightful rap-style challenges traditional views on Palestinians.” On occasion, the Fund has used Iron Shiek’s CDs for fundraising purposes. But the music of this rapper features lyrics maintaining that Israel’s influence in the Palestinian territories is far more objectionable than are suicide bombings; asserting that Israel has imposed a system of “apartheid” on the Palestinians; and graphically describing Iron Shiek’s personal desire to physically assault former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
PCWF has identified Rabbis for Human Rights and the Union of Health Workers Committees in Gaza as two of its “Affiliated Groups.” The former has experienced a rift in recent years between those of its members who seek to concentrate on humanitarian issues, and those who wish to emphasize condemnations of Israeli policies. The latter organization has accused Israel of maliciously destroying Palestinian ambulances without cause (making no mention of the Palestinians’ frequent use of ambulances to covertly transport terrorists into Israel).
Over the years, the PCWF website has provided links to the websites of such anti-Israel organizations as Al-Awda Chicago, Betselem, Electronic Intifada, Holy Land Trust, Northwest Ethnic Voice, Palestine Media Watch, SUSTAIN, and Women in Black.
In April 2006, PCWF director Riad Hamad filed a defamation suit against NGO Monitor, Frontpage Jerusalem, the Center for Study of Popular Culture and others, charging that those organizations had defamed him by suggesting that he and his charity were tied to Islamic terrorism. On January 17, 2007, a Texas Federal Court judge dismissed the lawsuit as “wholly frivolous,” “baseless,” and “groundless.” Calling Hamad‘s complaint “an unintelligible morass of vitriolic accusations” that had “no basis in law,” the judge ordered the plaintiff to pay the defendants’ attorney’s fees (totaling almost $60,000) plus a $1,000 fine to each defendant.
PCWF was founded by Bob Rossi, who, along with Margaret Stephens, co-founded the Northwest Ethnic Voice, a now-inactive Oregonian newsletter. Another notable individual affiliated with PCWF is the organization’s former director, Sami Awad, who went on to become the executive director of the Holy Land Trust.
On April 17, 2008, PCWF director Riad Hamad was found dead, with duct tape binding his hands and covering his mouth, in an East Austin, Texas lake. Police called the death suspicious, but family and other sources told investigators that it was likely a suicide.
For additional information on PCWF, click here.