Christian Aid, one of the world's largest anti-poverty NGOs, chose 27 January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to issue a vicious attack on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres. An article headed "Peres: War Criminal and Proud", written by the anti-Israel ideologue Jody McIntyre, appeared in Christian Aid's new UK-based online youth publication, Ctrl.alt.shift. McIntyre – the website's most frequent contributor on Israel – branded Peres (a former Nobel peace prize winner) a war criminal.
This vitriolic commentary was accompanied by photos juxtaposing images of what appear to be (presumably Jewish) victims of Nazi genocide with photos of dead Palestinians, to advance the abhorrent impression of a moral equivalence between Israel and Nazi Germany. Such ugly charges are typically levelled only in explicitly antisemitic and extremist publications. That such an odious essay would appear at all on the pages of a mainstream "humanitarian" organisation's website is highly disturbing.
In the past, Christian Aid has assured critics that it is not anti-Israel, but simply "pro-justice, pro-peace, and pro-poverty eradication". This claim is undermined by the fact that the target of this recent attack, Shimon Peres, is the Israeli statesman perhaps most associated with peace, accommodation, and co-existence. While the article suddenly disappeared without explanation six days after it was published, the highly inflammatory rhetoric it contained – published on the memorial day for millions of Holocaust victims – is not an isolated incident on Christian Aid's new website. Many other posts on Ctrl.Alt.Shift by McIntyre, who also blogs for the Electronic Intifada website, contain similarly hateful commentary about Israel.
In one post, McIntyre refers to Zionism as a "racist ideology with the sole aim of stealing the land of Palestine and expelling Palestinians from their country". Christian Aid describe Ctrl.Alt.Shift as an "innovative youth project giving voice to the impassioned desire to change the world felt by… young people [16-25 years old] and to fight against global poverty and social injustice".
The publication may be new, but the organisation's attempt to reach out to the youth market by engaging in Israel-bashing is not. Christian Aid's promotion of a youth-oriented anti-Israel agenda was evident back in 2004 with the launch of a website called Pressureworks. The site drew attention to Christian Aid's highly politicised and misleading report, Facts on the ground: The end of the two-state solution? The recommendations section of the report is notable for its complete absence of any call for Palestinians to end terrorism, which, by that time, had already claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives, including scores of children.
While the anti-Israel venom advanced in Ctrl.Alt.Shift is especially egregious, the broader context should not be lost. As NGO Monitor has previously reported, Christian Aid has a well-documented history of promoting a distorted narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its reports myopically focus on alleged Israeli "violations" and seriously underplay the impact of Palestinian terrorism, as well as the threat posed by terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, who openly call for Israel's destruction.
To salvage its reputation as a non-partisan, charitable endeavour offering constructive approaches to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Christian Aid must attempt to develop greater accountability for such negative agendas within its organisation. Its leaders must act now to create a comprehensive set of ethical guidelines for all of its publications and initiatives. Without a meaningful re-examination of funding practices and activities such as Ctrl.Alt.Shift, Christian Aid's moral standing, and its ability to have a positive impact, will continue to be eroded.