This is a Guest Post by Bertie
“Red Nose Day” is on Friday. It’s the day when BBC TV and radio is given over to raising money for the charity “Comic Relief”. It raises a lot of money – the accounts show that in the year to 30 September 2008, donations were £30 million. “Red Nose Day” has always marketed itself to young people, indeed most schools have a collection for it.
Donors to Comic Relief have no choice in where their money goes. The trustees make the decision. Donations go to both Charities operating mainly in the UK and Charities operating mainly abroad. The latest available breakdown of donations (2005/6) to the international Charities shows that War On Want received £329,500, Christian Aid £1,400,000, Oxfam £1,000,000 and Save The Children £969,800.
The Charity Commission’s Guidance Note on campaigning and political activity is CC9.
Charities have considerable freedom in political activity, provided it is in support of their purpose. However what they say must be “factually accurate and with a legitimate evidence base”.
War On Want, Oxfam, Christian Aid, and Save The Children have hardly been ‘factually accurate’ in their recent comments about the Middle East.
War On Want’:
A Press Release failed to mention that the separation fence has dramatically reduced the numbers of Israeli civilians killed by suicide bombers; describes it incorrectly as ‘illegal’; fails to mention that Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005; fails to mention that the West Bank would never have been controlled by Israel had it not been for its successful defence from attack by its neighbours in 1967; and gives an inaccurate impression of UN Resolutions.
In addition John Hilary – the Director of War On Want – is prone to answer criticism of the charity’s anti-Israel campaigns by insinuating that the charity faces a powerful and malicious opponent – variously described as the Israel Lobby, the Jewish press and Zionists.
Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director, Oxfam International said of Operation Cast Lead: “It has been a form of collective punishment illegal under international humanitarian law yet tolerated by the international community.”
In an Oxfam Press Release (29 December) John Prideaux-Brune, Oxfam’s country programme manager in Jerusalem, said “The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gazan civilians in violation of international law.”
Save the Children:
“Save The Children” had a Gaza campaign called “Enough is Enough”. The Press statement accompanying it said one child is dying every three hours. It also said – misleadingly – that ‘the British public is calling for an end to bombing in Gaza. There was no mention of Hamas rocket fire and Hamas human shields.
Christian Aid called for the suspension of EU/Israel talks. It claimed Israel is in breach of international law. No-one has found that.
As Andrew Roberts wrote in The Times (26 January), on 6 March 2008, CARE International, Cafod, Amnesty, Christian Aid and Oxfam (among others) published a report “The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion”.
The authors did not bother to hide their political bias against Israel, repeating standard Palestinian political rhetoric and including claims that Israeli policy “constitutes a collective punishment against ordinary men, women and children” and is “illegal under international humanitarian law”. The report was wrong on many counts, including allegations over the availability of food and basic necessities, which were later contradicted by both the World Bank and World Health Organisation. The fact that Hamas chose to pursue war with Israel rather than the welfare of its people was omitted. There was no reference to the fact that any of these claims might be disputed by the other side or by genuinely neutral observers.
In the context of the BBC DEC Appeal, I pointed out how these Charities’ partiality left the BBC between a rock and a hard place:
(Memo to BBC Public Affairs Office: Prepare briefing on why ‘Red Nose Day’ and the DEC Appeal are different, even though Oxfam and ‘Save The Children’ are members of both).
NGO Monitor is a particularly good source of information
So please consider a DIY “nose job” – select your own Charities from the Comic Relief list and give to that list rather than to the entire list (that the Red Nose Day Trustees choose for you). If you need to find the addresses of the Charities, they are on the Charity Commission website.
And urge your (grand)children’s schools to do the same……..