The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY JOHN WARE

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

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