Weekend long read

1) With the British government having this week announced that it will not fund ‘World Vision International’ until its investigation into alleged diversion of funds to Hamas is complete, readers may find a background article on the organisation by CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile useful. “Five Things You Need to Know About World Vision” is available here.Weekend Read

2) An interesting post about the Israeli perspective of the civil war in Syria is found at the IDF blog.

“In 2011, the population of the Syrian Golan numbered 1.2 million. The Syrian side of the border was fully functional with its farms, UN bases, towns and forests. […]

As of 2016, the population of the Syrian Golan is a mere 750,000 – 63% of its pre-war residents. 50,000 Syrians from the Golan alone have been killed, and the rest have fled inland or to other countries. Those who remain live in dire circumstances. Because of the fighting, they have little access to medical care, public works, food, and other basic necessities.”

3) Following on from this week’s rare BBC coverage of an internal Palestinian story, Khaled Abu Toameh provides some related background and context.

“Palestinians refer to Nablus as the “Mountain of Fire” — a reference to the countless armed attacks carried out against Israelis by residents of the city since 1967. Current events in Nablus, however, have shown how easily fire burns the arsonist. The Palestinian Authority is now paying the price for harboring, funding and inciting gang members and militiamen who until recently were hailed by many Palestinians as “heroes” and “resistance fighters.” Unsurprisingly, most of these “outlaws” and “criminals” (as the PA describes them) are affiliated in one way or another with Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction.

Nablus, the so-called Mountain of Fire, is now threatening to turn into a volcano that is set to erupt in the face of Abbas and his PA government.”

Read the whole article at the Gatestone Institute.

4) Matthew Levitt has written a very interesting essay titled “Hezbollah’s Pivot Toward the Gulf”.

“Hezbollah’s status in the wider Sunni Arab world has dropped precipitously since its height a decade ago after the 2006 Lebanon War. In the wake of that conflict, Hezbollah rode a wave of popular support across the region. A decade later, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has labeled Hezbollah a terrorist group and the Gulf States have cracked down on Hezbollah supporters and financiers within their borders. The Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have issued statements condemning Hezbollah as well, leading to a war of words between the group and Gulf officials. In January 2016, the Saudi government released a report on Iranian-sponsored terrorism that focused heavily on Hezbollah, spanning the group’s militant activities from the 1980s to the present.

But increasingly tense relations—and the larger regional context of a proxy war between Iran, Hezbollah’s patron and sponsor, and the Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia—may now be moving this schism from words to actions, threatening more overt violence between Hezbollah and its Shi`a allies and the Gulf States and their Sunni partners.”

Read the whole essay here.

 

BBC News report on Hamas infiltration of a charity downplays UK angle

The story of an international charity allegedly having been infiltrated by a terrorist organisation was covered by the BBC News website in a rather short-lived report which appeared on its Middle East page on August 4th and 5th under the headline “Israel: World Vision Gaza boss diverted cash to Hamas“.World Vision art

The report opens: [emphasis added]

“Israel has charged the Gaza head of an international charity with diverting millions of dollars of foreign funds to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Shin Bet security service said about 60% of all funds sent to Gaza by the World Vision charity was being diverted to the Islamist movement.

It said Hamas recruited the charity’s head of Gaza operations, Mohammed Halabi, more than a decade ago.”

Readers have to proceed to paragraph seven in order to learn about the obviously very relevant topic of Hamas’ terrorist designation and readers of the original version of the report were told that:

“Israel and a number of other countries consider Hamas a terrorist group.”

Some three hours later that sentence was amended:

“Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, and UK among other countries.”

The BBC report states:

“World Vision said it had no reason to believe the allegations were true.

It said it carried out regular audits of its Gaza programmes and was “shocked” by the charges.

“We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence,” a statement said.”

Readers are not informed that World Vision International has been registered as a church in the US since 2007 meaning that its reporting obligations to the tax authorities there are different from those of 501 c 3 registered non-profit organisations.

The BBC report goes on to amplify a predictable statement from the terrorist organization concerned:

“A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the group had “no connection to [Mr Halabi] and therefore, all Israeli accusations are void and aim to suppress our people,” Reuters news agency reported.”

From the point of view of the BBC’s funding public, perhaps the most remarkable feature of this report is its downplaying of the story’s British angle. Readers are informed that:

“The security service said these funds were used, amongst other things, for the digging of tunnels intended to be used for attacks on Israeli civilian communities, the building of military bases and for the purchase of weapons.

It said one base costing $80,000 was paid for in cash from UK donations.”DEC appeal on BBC

World Vision is one of the thirteen charities which make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). The DEC’s Gaza Crisis Appeal (which raised some £19 million) was broadcast on BBC channels in 2014 and the British government pledged matched funding for the first £2m raised. Whether or not the $80,000 used to construct Hamas’ military facility in Jabaliya came from donations to that DEC appeal is unclear but as Sir Eric Pickles recently noted:

“Worryingly, the UK – via the Department for International Development – reportedly gave £2 million to groups in Gaza in 2014, including World Vision, when they matched charitable contributions pound for pound made by well-meaning Brits to a Disaster Emergency Committee appeal. The Department has conceded that it cannot guarantee that British taxpayers money has not been given to Hamas.” 

Obviously this story will be of considerable interest to any media organisation intending to serve the British public interest by carrying out investigative reporting into the question of why legal safeguards appear to have failed the donating public and taxpayers – especially as the problem shows signs of being by no means limited to one NGO alone.

However, seeing as the BBC has over the last two years put considerable effort into persuading its audiences that the dire economic and social conditions in the Gaza Strip are primarily attributable to Israel – while serially ignoring Hamas’ abuse of its civilian population and misappropriation of resources intended to better their lives – it is perhaps unlikely that it will be found at the forefront of such investigative reporting. 

Related Articles:

BBC’s Matthew Price produces superficial report on charity audit

BBC amends article on DEC Gaza appeal concerns