By Tom Anderson & Therezia Cooper
Corporate Watch has sent the following letter to UK charity Stewardship Services to encourage it to end its support for Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, a charity which operates extensively in settlements in the West Bank.
We need you to contact Stewardship Services too.
If you want more information about CFOIC, read our previous articles about the organisation ‘Charity’ and Ethnic Cleansing: Christian Friends of Israeli Communities and British organisation ends relationship with charity supporting Israeli settlements
Stewardship Services can be contacted at:
PO Box 99
Dear Stewardship Services,
It has come to our attention that UK donations to the organisation Christian Friends of Israeli Communities Heartland are currently collected by Stewardship Services. We are writing to you to encourage you to end your links with this organisation because of its involvement with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
As you will know, Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law and this is also the British Government’s position. Continued settlement expansion facilitates the rapid ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from certain areas if the Occupied Territories and is, in the words of the foreign office ‘an obstacle to peace’. Christian Friends of Israeli Communities is actively encouraging settlement expansion and funds numerous settlement projects. In fact, it does not recognise the West Bank, referring to the area only as ‘Judea and Samaria’. The charity has funded projects in, for example, the illegal settlements Maskiot, Argaman, Susiya, Na’ama and Kfar Adumim -all close to vulnerable Palestinian communities trying to survive under occupation.
In 2012 World Action Ministries, the organisation which was previously collecting CFOIC’s donations in the UK, confirmed to Corporate Watch that it had ceased its relationship with the charity after being notified of its operations on occupied territory as the knowledge “made [them] feel very uncomfortable bearing in mind the advice being given by the United Nations and other bodies at the time.”
Since WAM dropped CFOIC international bodies have issued even stronger guidelines about the funding of Israel’s settlements. Only two weeks ago the European Union published new rules which will bar Israeli organisations, groups and companies from receiving EU funding if they are based on Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.
Christian Friends of Israeli Communities strongly supports the settlement project and encourages settlement expansion. In a response to Corporate Watch CFOIC’s Sondra Oster Baras stated that “CFOIC Heartland has from its very inception publicly supported the communities and people of Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank]. CFOIC Heartland has never hidden the fact that funds go to communities beyond Israel’s 67 borders.”
World Action Ministries has realised that the tide is turning when it comes to Israel’s illegal settlements. It is time for Stewardship Services to be on the rights side of history – drop your relationship with Christian Friends of Israeli Communities Heartland.
Regards, Corporate Watch
UPDATE 16/08/2013 – Corporate Watch has received the following response from Stewardship:
“Dear Corporate Watch
Thank you for your open letter explaining your concerns on Christian Friends of Israeli Communities. We are aware that the region evokes complex political and theological views. We do not hold a position on political issues in this or any region. Our primary goal remains the Advancement of the Christian faith. Our charitable objectives also allow us to support the relief of poverty. Our agreement with CFIOC [sic] on use of funds is that they will be used solely in the provision of a hot lunch for children in Kochav Yaakov whose parents cannot afford to do so. We will continue to monitor the use of our funds to see that they are used for this purpose and meet the advice from regulators, such as the Charity Commission. As part of our on-going monitoring we are reviewing advice given by UK government and Charity regulators to charities working in the region.
Regards Frances Miles Head of Giving Services, Stewardship”
To read Corporate Watch’s further response click here