In our latest UN Watch Briefing, we described how the UN last week marked November 29—the date in 1947 when the General Assembly voted to create Jewish and Arab states—by featuring one-sided speeches that incited hatred against Israel, instead of promoting dialogue and friendly relations between both peoples.
For the past 30 years, the UN has officially celebrated this date as “Palestinian Solidarity Day,” as required by an Arab-sponsored resolution in 1977 that was designed to erase from UN memory the organization’s historic endorsement of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. The very date that gave birth to the balanced, two-state solution was subverted by Middle East regimes interested only in a state of perpetual hostility against Israel, to distract their populations from failed civil, political and economic structures.
Such “biased UN programs,” U.S. representative Anne Patterson said in a 2005 speech, are “inimical to . . . achieving a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Regrettably, one of the supporters of these biased programs is World Vision International, which raised $944 million last year from Americans, with more than a quarter coming from U.S. taxpayers. It’s an organization that seems to do much good around the world, but in Geneva has been repeatedly led astray into overtly political activities that are inimical to the basic values of the UN Charter and the interests of Middle East peace.
We reported last week on the speech delivered by Thomas Getman, World Vision International’s executive director of international relations in Geneva, formerly its representative to the Palestinian territories. He now responds to UN Watch:
Thank you for featuring me, albeit inaccurately, in the “UN Watch” email release yesterday. I am honored to be featured by you.
In case you or your readers are interested in the full text I have attached it for you. If you were actually in the room you will know that each person could recall whatever child they desired to pray for…indeed including an Israeli child if that is the one who inspired them to the struggle for peace with justice for all.
You will see that in fact I did “condemn indiscriminate attacks and other human rights violations and abuses against civilians by all parties.” You may want in the interest of honest fair play in our ongoing debate to give your readers the full picture of my emphasis for all children of the region who live in fear. That way you cannot be accused of twisting words or intentions for other motives.
As requested, we attach here the full World Vision text. Now the readers can decide: who is it that is “twisting words”?
Let’s see. Mr. Getman’s corrective insists, first, that his moment of reflection and prayer was “indeed” inclusive of Israeli children. Really? When Mr. Getman invited his UN Palestinian Solidarity Day audience to think of “that suffering child who first crossed our paths in Palestine, the surrounding countries, or in pictures”—and that this be a child “who inspired us to do the work for Palestinians we are doing”—did this really include Israeli children?
Why does Mr. Getman now write that he had referred to any child who inspired “the struggle for peace with justice for all,” when his original statement speaks only of work “for Palestinians”?
Second, “in the interest of honest fair play,” Mr. Getman insists that his World Vision statement featured “emphasis for all children of the region who live in fear.” Really? Does a two-page statement replete with Palestinian grievances and attacks on Israel—apart from one fleeting reference to “Palestinian and Israeli children”—really emphasize “all” children?
Last week’s text opened by immediately portraying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a one-sided affair. It is Israel that destroys Mr. Getman’s Palestine projects, Israel that murders his sponsored children. Then he asks the audience to observe one minute of reflection on “that suffering child” in Palestine who inspired their work for Palestinians. The rest is devoted to Gaza’s isolation, Israel’s violation of humanitarian law, its “illegal” occupation, and so forth.
For all its focus on Gaza, the World Vision statement says not a single word about how Israel handed that land to Palestinian rule, only to watch it descend into a beehive of weapons-smuggling and a launching pad for terrorism. It says nothing about the bloody Hamas take-over of Gaza, where intra-Palestinian fighting led to dozens of brutal murders. It says nothing about Kassam rockets fired at Israeli civilian centers.
Amazingly, a statement supposedly dedicated to children manages to say nothing about why the Israeli town of Sderot needed to build a rocket-proof day-care center. Nor, on the 60th anniversary of the UN vote to create a Jewish state, was there a word by World Vision about the Palestinian Authority’s recent announcement that it would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or Hamas’ call to cancel the 1947 UN decision.
In case anyone missed it, toward the end, a section titled “World Vision’s Over-Arching Message” sums up what the statement is all about: the fear and suffering of children “in the Palestinian Territories and Israel Arab communities.” If you happen to be Israeli and Jewish, however—and the victim of a Kassam rocket or suicide bombing against your school-bus, pizza shop, or baby cradle—you’re out of luck. World Vision isn’t interested.
It’s bad enough to be a full participant and supporter of what the U.S. and other democratic governments recognize as Arab-sponsored, biased UN programs that mask anti-Israel propaganda under the euphemisms of “Palestinian solidarity,” and which are inimical to true dialogue and reconciliation.
Far worse, though, is the cynical attempt to pass off a poisonous text as balanced by invoking a handful of disingenuous references to “all parties.” Yes, some governments do it all the time, but one expects more from a major non-governmental organization.
The real question is this: do the Americans who are paying for World Vision have any idea of how their money is being spent? Is this kind of counter-productive political activity being classified in their official filings as “humanitarian” work? Is funding of World Vision from U.S. government agencies directly or indirectly supporting biased policies that are inimical to the Middle East peace process?