World Vision gets it right

Much of World Vision's valuable work in helping the painful rehabilitation of Gaza's traumatised population would be wasted should yet another Israeli blitz occur.

In an article on its website home page, World Vision New Zealand implied that Israel was observing the latest Gaza ceasefire agreement. On 26 March 2015 the Palestine Human Rights Campaign Aotearoa/New Zealand (PHRC) wrote the following email to World Vision:

Your home page article What is the situation in Gaza now? states that, “The latest ceasefire between Israel and Gaza continues to hold.” While it is true that there have been no missiles launched towards Israel since the beginning of this year, Israel has committed at least 163 ceasefire violations, attacking fishing boats and Palestinian agriculture. One Palestinian fisherman has been killed in the Israeli violence.

On 4 March, Israeli gunboats opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off al-Sudaniya beach, wounding two fishermen, Eid Baker and Ziyad Baker, as well as damaging one boat and hijacking another. Four fishermen, Mohammad Zidan, Rami Zidan, Mohammad Al-Najjar and Mohammad Hassouneh, were taken prisoner.

On 7 March, the Israeli Navy opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off north-west Beit Lahiya, killing a fisherman, Tawfiq Abu Rayalah, and taking prisoner two others, Jihad Kaskasin and Wahid Kaskasin, while hijacking their boat. There is much more information available and we invite you sign up for our daily newsletter, In Occupied Palestine.

People need to be fully informed when the world is asked to assist the victims of this blockade and military occupation. Failing to recognise the people of Gaza's amazing forbearance in refusing to be provoked into breaking the ceasefire rather lets them down.

As there was no response from World Vision for over a week we wrote again on 2 April 2015:

We wrote to you on 26 March regarding your home page article on your website What is the situation in Gaza now? The first sentence in the article begins: “The latest ceasefire between Israel and Gaza continues to hold.” We supplied some examples of Israel's ceasefire violations but so far have received no response from you. Your article still asserts that the latest ceasefire between Israel and Gaza is continuing to hold. Since writing to you, Israeli ceasefire violations have resulted in at least another three Palestinians being injured.

We look forward to your immediate withdrawal of the comment, referred to above, that implies that Israel has not been committing violations of the latest Gaza ceasefire. We shall be shortly publishing our emails to you and any action or response you may or may not choose to make to our request.

On the 7 April 2015 we received the following email from Trina Ainuu, Customer Services of World Vision, which read:

Thank you for your email. We are very sorry for the delay in responding to you. Please be advised that your initial email query has already been referred to the appropriate team and they will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

Today, 14 April 2015, we note that the sentence referred to above has been removed from World Vision's website home page article.

As at 11 April 2015 the number of Israeli ceasefire violations this year now numbers at least 189. Silence on the part of the news media and other organisations can only encourage Israel to keep on attacking Palestinians and inflicting yet more damage to their agriculture and their fishing industry. This would run counter to World Vision's efforts at helping the Palestinian victims of Israeli violence and, worse, is likely to encourage more such attacks to the point where some Palestinian resistance groups may resort once more to firing missiles at Israel. In that event, Gaza would face the possibility of yet another massive Israeli blitz.

World Vision is not afraid of speaking out. In a 16 July 2014 article Attacks that kill children while sheltering in their homes have to be stopped immediately, World Vision commented on the killing of Saher, a five-year-old boy, during an Israeli airstrike on his home. A few weeks before, he had been flying a kite with a message of peace on a beach in Gaza. The charity's National Director in Palestine, Alex Snary, said: "The video and pictures of Saher cradled in the arms of his anguished father are horrifying." He continued, "Saher participated in a children's event by the beach in Gaza a few weeks ago. He and the other children flew kites carrying messages of peace and hope for the future."

For every exposé of Israel's targeting of civilians there are myriad misleading so-called news items and commentaries that shield the Zionist state. One particularly indefensible misrepresentation of statistics in the New York Times appeared at the time of the most recent Israeli blitz on Gaza, on 31 July 2014. The New York Times interactive article is examined in the following deconstruction: Not fit to print: When good design goes bad. Let us leave it to the reader to decide which version is closer to the truth.

Should the Israeli military succeed in provoking a resumption of the firing of missiles from Gaza, the Zionist state would certainly react, as always, with a massively disproportionate onslaught. In that event, the Israeli government will claim that it is only responding to unprovoked missile attacks and many of those who trust what the mainstream news media report (or fail to report) about the Gaza blockade will have no reason to doubt Israel's claims. Israel is well aware of this and feels it can rely on complicit mainstream news media to guarantee its impunity. Well respected agencies, such as World Vision, have a role to play in countering this and who knows how many lives might be saved simply by witnessing for truth?

Much of World Vision's valuable work in helping the painful rehabilitation of Gaza's traumatised population would be wasted should yet another Israeli blitz occur. Prevention is surely better than cure and no amount of humanitarian assistance can restore lost lives or console the bereaved. The suffering of the Palestinian people is not a natural disaster — it is man-made and therefore preventable. There can be no true peace without justice and both depend upon understanding and respect for the whole truth. Efforts by peace activists with, for instance, the recent successes achieved by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, show how positive results can be achieved by determined and persistent action.

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