Charitable Intent, Terrorist Perception

Charitable Intent, 'Terrorist' Perception

By Ridwan Sheikh, 14th August, 2006
Source: Stop Political Terror

If democracy has its price, then the Palestinian people are surely paying heavily for it. The U.S/U.K governments continued defiance in rejecting Hamas, as the democratic representatives of its people, (a sentiment, surely, the purported bastions of freedom and democracy should be proud of!), has only deepened the economic crisis in the occupied region. The latest casualties are charitable organisations. Not to disappoint anyone the British charitable organisation, Interpal, is on familiar ground as the latest fall guys.

The BBC Panorama programme, 'Faith, Hate and Charity' broadcasted on 30th July was perfectly timed for Israel and its friends. The programme provided an unwelcome distraction on two counts.

Firstly, the daily extensive news coverage of the carnage and destruction of the occupied southern Lebanon was a key indication that Israeli support was wavering.

Secondly, the programme attempted to deflect public criticism surrounding the Israel Defense Force (IDF), recent bombing campaign in Gaza.

With the world's attention on Lebanon, the IDF saw an opportunity to inflict maximum damage, with the possibility of receiving minimal international condemnation. On July 12th, the IDF dropped a bomb on a house in Gaza, killing a family of nine, including two children. As predicted, the war crime came under little media or political scrutiny.

To a Tel Aviv resident, it must have been difficult to concede International media coverage being heavily in Lebanon's favour. After all, the media usually reserves such emotive imagery, in its portrayal of Israel as the victim, instead of the aggressor.

A feeling perhaps prompting a few hard slaps onto the television set, in the vain hope of correcting the 'glitch'.

Panorama's Investigative reporter, John Ware, strenuous allegations of implicating Interpal of 'terrorist activities', by being a key financial donor to Hamas was deeply flawed.

The theme of the programme was guilt by association. The mere basis of Interpal providing funds to those organisations in the occupied territories, which have a huge Hamas following, is apparently enough to insinuate Interpal being nothing more than a front for providing financial support to 'terrorist activities'.

To put this bizarre understanding into context, it would mean, anyone providing financial assistance to the families of detainees incarcerated in Guantلnamo Bay, for alleged 'terrorist' activities, should be charged with John Ware’s terrorism offence interpretation – guilt by association.

The intention of the programme was clear from the outset. This was reflected in the opening scenes of the documentary. The children performing in a social function, with words,'For the sake of glory to religion we give our blood', certainly had the chilling effect for those not familiar with Islam or Israeli-Palestinian politics.

After the programme, the words triggered a response from one viewer, recalling how she used to sing at a state school in England:

"Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post, Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host: Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain, And prove to all around you that death itself is gain".

So, Mr. Ware, does this mean Christian 'dawah' is militant preaching, often aimed at impressionable minds?

By the end of the programme viewers knew more about the people working for the Hamas government and leading Muslim figures, but nothing about Interpal.

The obvious exclusion from the programme was, of course, Interpal themselves. Despite John Ware claims the Trustees of Interpal declined to be interviewed, it was strongly denied by Interpal.

Interpal issued a statement in its website, stating to the contrary. It approved one of the trustees to answer off-camera questioning. The BBC refused to accept Interpals request for the interview to be shown live or in full, for fears of biased footage.

John Ware’s allegations are not new. In December 2005, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, The nation’s top Jewish governing body, was forced to make a public apology, after an article in its website referred to Interpal as a 'terrorist organisation'.

Interpal settled the dispute with an out of court settlement. The Board of Deputies of British Jews acknowledged it should not have described Interpal in these terms.

In addition, Interpal has twice been cleared of links to Hamas by the Charity Commission: first in April 1996 and again in September 2003.

If John Ware was genuinely concerned about terrorism, perhaps his next investigation thesis should be the leading independent Jewish charity called, The Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers, (AWIS) and its American partner, The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), financially assisting Israeli soldiers commit war crimes in the occupied territories and in Southern Lebanon.