This is a guest post by Sarah
The recent posts about the Viva Palestina Convoy raise some interesting issues about the motivations behind charitable acts. What draws people to certain causes – and to certain ways of manifesting their support for them? In the case of Gaza I think it’s perfectly understandable that the sister of Charlie felt moved to get involved. The effects of Operation Cast Lead have been given huge amounts of coverage and it seems quite natural to feel sorry for those caught up in the conflict and want to help in some way.
People commenting on the recent post have suggested that those involved in the convoy are driven by less pure motives – that they enjoy the drama, even the conflict of the situation. I’m sure there is an element of this at work and it seems likely that it’s the prime motive for a few. But I expect most do genuinely want to help even if their motives are not unmixed. (And even people whose charitable impulses manifest themselves less controversially may not be driven purely by altruism – some kind of self-gratification may be involved too.)
Several Harry’s Place regulars seem incredulous that people might join such a group without knowing about George Galloway’s support for Hamas. . (Avid followers of political blogs sometimes forget that these are read by a very small proportion of people. Not everyone will have been exposed to as much information about George Galloway as the average HP reader!) I can readily believe that some supporters of Viva Palestina had not realized the full political implications of the convoy – although perhaps the experience of being cooped up together for a month will have encouraged some people to – reflect further.
Others have asked: why this cause? Why not, for example, Darfur? I can understand why people are a little sceptical. The cause of the Palestinians is a fashionable one (though this doesn’t in itself make it any less worthy) and also one which seems bound up (for some) with an urge to criticise and punish Israel obsessively. Charlie regretted the ‘inability of truly neutral players to get involved’ with Viva Palestina. But it’s because I do identify as neutral in this conflict that I’d rather donate to a charity which doesn’t take sides. One such charity is Children of Peace. This works to promote friendship and cooperation between the children on both sides of the conflict.
It is currently running a Winter Appeal to support needy children in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.