Jan 6, 2010

A letter to EAPPI

A letter to a church organization that apparently has a just cause. The unwary reader might be fooled by the humanitarian wrapping on this disguised anti-Israel website. The organization's vision, quoted from the website: 

"The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) seeks to support local and international efforts to end the Israeli occupation and bring a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just peace, based on international law and relevant United Nations resolutions".

My letter:

Dear Sirs,

I would like to join your wonderful organization after reading about it on the official EAPPI website (http://www.eappi.org/en/about/overview.html).

I especially found that your commitment to impartiality, in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict interesting:

"One of the EAPPI guiding principles is 'principled impartiality', the EAPPI Code of Conduct states: 'We do not take sides in this conflict and we do not discriminate against anyone but we are not neutral in terms of principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. We stand faithfully with the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. We want to serve all parties in this conflict in a fair and unbiased manner in word and action.'"

It appears under the heading "Principles", in the overview of organization and definately meets my expectations of an organization that seeks to:

"…bring a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just peace based on international law..."

as stated under the heading "Vision", in the same overview.

I cannot express my awe and admiration. I felt that I had finally found an organization with not only a truly just cause, but honorable principles, guiding code of conduct and clearly defined vision. Wow!

Our (I am already joining!) organization's "Objectives" follows the vision, mission and principles statements. Unfortunately, here, I have run into a few problems and have some questions, so perhaps the "code of conduct" or policy makers in the organization may kindly offer some assistance, please.

I will address each point in turn:
1.     "Participate in the daily life and work of Palestinian and Israeli civil society, Churches and Christian communities".
I have managed to find references on the website to participation in Palestinian civil society; however there is no mention of participation in Israeli civil society. Where do I find examples of this work?
2.     "Be visibly present in vulnerable communities, locations or events, e.g. near Israeli settlements and the wall/fence, schools and homes, fields & orchards".
I presume that the addition of the word "Israeli" is an error, or at least it should be "Israeli and Palestinian". Distinctly naming only one of the parties contradicts the impartiality principle. I can think of many Israeli towns and cities that are, or have been indiscriminately rocketed from within Palestinian territories.
3.     "Actively listen to local people's experiences and give voice to peoples' daily suffering under occupation and write or speak about these experiences in their reports and public speaking engagements".
I guess that this is ok, as long as we give voice to the Israelis too, because, the impartiality principle states that "We want to serve all parties in this conflict in a fair and unbiased manner in word and action ". I would like to request a list of Israeli experiences reported at the public speaking engagements you mention above.

4.     "Monitor the conduct of Israeli soldiers (e.g. at checkpoints and other barriers and during demonstrations and other military actions) and contact relevant organizations and authorities to request intervention".
There are two issues here:
a.     Once again, singling out Israeli action seems very one sided and biased. Perhaps this should be taken out completely or "Palestinian terror groups shooting rockets at Israeli civilians" should be added, to make this impartial.
b.     I am sure that you can supply a list of organizations EAPPI contacted regarding indiscriminate rocket fire into Israeli towns as well as a list of efforts made to convince Gilad Shalit's rights as a prisoner.

Just for now, I will have to refrain from the regarding the organization as ours. Something seems to be not quite right with the mission and principles and stated objectives.

5.     "Engage in non-violent ways with perpetrators of human rights abuses"
This is fantastic – you'll finally be able to protect Gazan civilians from being used a human shields, and also stop rocket fire into Israel.

6.     "Produce high quality, first-hand written materials, testimonies and analysis".
Fantastic! Please supply a list of both Palestinian accounts and Israeli accounts, where and when they produced. Does this include suicide bombing accounts and child indoctrination to become martyrs for the cause?

7.     "Report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that EAs witness and document and use these reports to inform governments and intergovernmental bodies and press them to take action".
Great! I am sure that you can produce a list of violations from both sides. Please include accounts of Fatah members being thrown off high-rise buildings after the democratic elections, as well as the intergovernmental bodies and press to which these reports were sent.

8.     "Engage with the media locally, nationally and internationally".
I would appreciate a list of engagements that have taken place.

9.     "Be part of international advocacy and networking activities that highlight the human rights situation in Palestine".
This is terribly impartial. What is highlighted? I hope it includes the needs of the Israeli civilian population, Sderot for example. Since Palestine is not a country, yet anyway, please provide a clear definition of what you consider Palestine, oh…and the highlights too.

Hmmmm….out of nine objectives, if I give you immediate benefit of the doubt (pending the requested lists), 33% are anti-Israel. In my humble opinion, at least the objectives should be objective/balanced/impartial.

Unfortunately, I cannot join right now, but will seriously consider membership after receiving your detailed reply that will surely uphold the impartiality principle from the "code of conduct". The bible forbids us to put a stumbling block before the blind. Proclaiming impartiality followed by what seems like bias, is a definite stumbling block for the unwary reader.

I am sure that you will welcome my remarks and not want to be considered as one of those cheap Israel bashing hate sites or organizations.

I also see no mention of real Christian issues in Gaza and the West Bank. The Christian populations there have serious human rights issues and are suffering too, at the hands of their Moslem neighbors. Why has this been left out?  I could actually supply you with a wealth of information on this. In fact, the Christian population there is hunted, persecuted and violently ousted.

Thanks for your urgent attention,

Laurence Seeff

NB. I would like to contact some of the team here in Israel but there are no contact details or surnames. Any particular reason?

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