World Vision’s Behaviour “Scandalous”
The latest on World Vision from CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile:
The organization, which is charged with improving the welfare of children throughout the world, does this by highlighting the suffering endured by Palestinian children living in the Gaza Strip, pointing the finger of blame at Israel, and saying almost nothing at all about the role Palestinian elites play in causing this suffering.
Rather than scold Hamas for running summer camps where youths are taught to hate Jews, and for using child labor to construct tunnels into Israel, the organization targets nearly all of its criticism at the Jewish state.
As a result , World Vision supporters throughout the world are exposed to a propagandistic narrative that promotes the interests of leaders who seek Israel’s destruction and oppress and steal from the people the charity is trying to help.
World Vision’s behavior is, simply put, scandalous. It needs to change.
Two obvious places to look for proof of World Vision’s irresponsibility is the Facebook page and Twitter feed for the organization’s staffers working in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Virtually every article highlighted by World Vision staffers on Facebook and Twitter is a condemnation of Israel; few, if any, highlight Hamas’ extremism in the Gaza Strip and the corruption of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
The implications are clear: If something bad is happening to the Palestinians, it is invariably Israel’s fault; nothing is ever the fault of Palestinian leaders.
World Vision’s staffers also produce articles of their own that offer a distorted view of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. For example, in 2008, World Vision’s Allyn Dynes wrote a press release condemning Israel for the lack of food, fuel and electrical power in the Gaza Strip — when, in fact, Hamas had diverted food and fuel from their intended recipients as part of its policy of increasing the suffering in the Gaza Strip in order to make Israel look bad.
At the time of the fighting, Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh quoted a Palestinian Authority official who stated there, “was enough fuel and flour to keep the bakeries in the Gaza Strip operating for another two months.”
In April 2012, Richard Stearns, president of World Vision’s affiliate in the United States, attacked Israel in an article published in the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.
He falsely accused Israel of denying thousands of Palestinian Christians the ability to travel to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem during Holy Week.
The following day, Michael Oren, then serving as Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., reported that Israel provided more than 20,000 permits to Christians from the West Bank to attend services in Jerusalem during Holy Week that year.
Even worse, during last year’s fighting between Hamas and Israel, World Vision’s affiliate in Ireland broadcast a radio solicitation that falsely suggested that Israeli air strikes were targeted at Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip.
When challenged, World Vision staffers in the U.S. apologized for the “offense” the ad caused, but not for the false implication that Israel intentionally targeted children in its air strikes.
On the rare occasions that the organization condemns Hamas, it posits a false moral equivalence between Hamas and the country it seeks to destroy.
“If we are to keep our moral compass, the world must make it clear that those firing rockets into Israel and bombing homes in Gaza are doing wrong,” Kevin Jenkins, President of World Vision International, wrote last summer.
Jenkins’ effort to posit an equivalence between the two combatants ignores the fact that Israel seeks to avoid civilians while Hamas seeks to maximize their deaths. Israel drops leaflets and sends out text messages warning people to get out of the way of an impending attacks.
Hamas launches rockets at civilian targets while hiding behind civilians. It stores its rockets in schools and clinics, intentionally putting children in harm’s way.
World Vision’s tendency to lambaste Israel while giving Hamas a pass is part of a larger problem — the organization’s unwillingness to hold Arab and Muslim regimes to account when their actions undermine child welfare.
When speaking about the suffering of children in Syria and Iraq, World Vision has been much more restrained in its criticism of ISIS and the Assad Regime, two entities that have committed atrocities against children and against humanity in general.
When telling the harrowing stories of children fleeing the fighting in these countries, World Vision simply does not mention the perpetrators by name.
Looking at World Vision materials about the humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria, we learn that bad people are doing bad things, and that World Vision needs money to help the children afflicted by these bad acts. But if you want to know who is doing these bad things, World Vision will not tell you, probably for fear of reprisal.
In sum, World Vision condemns Israel with an energy and vehemence that it does not direct at countries and political movements that have behaved in unspeakably worse ways.
Luke Moon, a researcher for the Philos Project, reports that the organization, “rarely crosses the line into political or theological controversies. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an exception. World Vision makes no secret of its distaste for Zionism, both Jewish and Christian.”
World Vision needs to retire from the battlefield of anti-Zionism. If it cannot speak the truth about Israel’s adversaries in the Middle East, it can at least stop defaming the Jewish homeland.
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