BRITISH JEWS often complain about the lack of public relations nous by successive Israeli governments.
What, I wonder, would these self same critics make of the Facebook Fury campaign by some JC readers against the paper for publishing the Gaza Crisis Appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)? A PR triumph?
Can the decision to publish seriously be described as “shaming Israel and the Jews”? It surely had everything to do with Jewish values — common humanity and a belief in free speech.
I assume that is why JC editor Stephen Pollard — although apologising for any upset caused to some JC readers — has not actually apologised for running the ad. And rightly so.
I suspect that many of the JC’s Facebook Furious will have been equally livid with The Times for refusing to publish an ad featuring Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel excoriating Hamas for its use of children as human shields. At least the Guardian did, to its credit — and it’s not often one can say that about a newspaper whose coverage of the Israel Palestine conflict sometimes seems unbalanced.
We await more verifiable casualty statistics than have been released by Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health. Early indications suggest that for every combatant, roughly one non-combatant was killed — far lower than the estimated ratios in NATO operations in Afghanistan — and inevitable in an asymmetric urban war, especially if Hamas did cynically use civilians in an “out-crazy the crazies” strategy — as a New York Times columnist put it.
It’s also true that the number of Palestinians killed by the IDF is what the rest of the Arab world’s warring factions sometimes get through in a morning.
But Operation Protective Edge still leaves several thousand Gazan innocents, including many children, dead, horribly maimed and with no homes or possessions and no livelihoods.
It takes a stone heart not to want to help and I know of several Jews who have sent money to the DEC. The DEC is a central co-ordinating body for 13 major UK charities.
Many of the Facebook Furious were particularly angered by the fact that one of the 13 charities was the Birmingham-based Islamic Relief Worldwide.
The DEC’s Chief Executive Saleh Saeed is Islamic Relief’s former Chief Executive.
Islamic Relief has an impressive record of bringing much-needed relief around the world. In Iraq, now facing its worst humanitarian crisis since 2006, the charity is providing food, clothing and water to Christians and Yazidis as they flee the barbarism of Islamic State forces.
However, when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Islamic Relief has had an historical presentational problem.
As Hamas’ founding charter makes clear, Hamas grew from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which has grown into an international Islamic fundamentalist movement.
Over the years, several senior members of this wider Brotherhood movement have served as Islamic Relief trustees and directors.
Fundraising events in aid of Islamic Relief have occasionally also featured speakers with extreme views — such as Haitham al Haddad, an avowed supporter of Hamas who has said: ”We always say that the conflict between Islam and the enemies of Islam is an on-going conflict and we should pay the price of this victory from our blood and Muslims are ready to do so.” He is also reported to have said the Jews are “the enemies of God, and the descendants of apes and pigs.”
Islamic Relief insists it is scrupulously neutral and emphasises that it is supported by UN agencies and the European Commission. It could have added the Prime Minister. During the last election campaign, David Cameron visited the charity’s Birmingham HQ.
However, the Israelis have been concerned about Islamic Relief for over a decade.
In 2006, a 36-year-old Pakistani-born British Islamic Relief worker was arrested by the Israelis, who said they had found documents connecting the charity to illegal Hamas funds in the UK and Saudi Arabia. They also said the worker was in possession of photographs of Hamas military activities, Osama Bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and swastikas superimposed on IDF symbols.
The worker said there was “not a grain of truth in anything that Islamic Relief or I have been accused of by the Israeli authorities”. Islamic Relief said the Israelis were engaged in a smear campaign.
Islamic Relief had been on Israel’s radar since the 2nd Intifada. It was listed as one of the founding “participants” in an organisation called the Union of Good, at that time known as the “101 Days Campaign”, whose president was the Muslim Brotherhood movement’s de facto spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi.
This would have been an unwise involvement. The