Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Questionable charity: Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief

One thing I noticed is missing from all the reporting about Israel's blundered handling of the aid boat is: Just exactly who is this sea-faring charity
headed illegally to Gaza? I had to go to Fox News of all places to learn the name - the Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief, part of the "Free Gaza Movement."

The term "Human Rights" is almost always synonymous with the political left. And the global left is generally pro-Palestinian, too. Therefore,
I was immediately skeptical of the"purely humanitarian" aims of the flotilla - running the blockade was obviously a political and PR stunt. The ships contained minimal supplies, and, with all the weapons on board - they were prepared for, or planning for, a fight.

These are not fired up college kids on this boat. I know enough about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to know that when it comes to non-profits neither side is always what it seems: Jewish / Israeli human rights groups are frequently run by conservatives, while the Pro-Palestinian groups are as left as they come. Sometimes this left-wing liberalism ventures into odd places, like radical Muslim extremism (a.k.a. conservatives). Both left-wing Muslims and right-wing Muslims can agree on one thing - they hate Israel, as in HATE. So the boat could have contained both political "activists" as well as religious fundamentalists.

I know from my protesting days that "activist" is a loose term. All it really means is someone that spends a lot of unpaid time fighting for a cause. I was a center-left activist, and I met anarcho-socialist activists whom I had nothing in common with. I wanted to raise awareness on issues, and they wanted to abolish the banking system. Yikes.

So back to the Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief. Here's what we know about them:

Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief
1. Founded in 1995 as a Turkish Islamic charity
2. Some have linked them with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad network (Has not been proven, however)
3. They provide aid to Muslim countries globally. So, despite their generic "helping everyone" name, they have a fairly narrow focus - i.e. themselves. I understand this - the Jewish Federation system works the same way, but we don't hide the "Jewish" part.
4. Their Facebook page is thinly veiled pro-Palestine / anti-Israel group. One of their mission statements is: "We aim at taking any actions to fight violation of anyone’s basic liberties and human rights, and to counter any policy and practice that make people dependent on aid. "
5. Here is their website translated from Turkish into English. The translation is poor, but there is talk of religious "martyrs," and the typical black-and-white thinking of any idealogical group.

My initial thoughts are that this group is somewhat similar to Hamas, although obviously less violent. Hamas has a legitimate side as a social service provider to extremely poor people, but it also has a political / violent side as well. People tend to put these groups in one category - "humanitarian activists" or "terrorists / terrorist sympathizers," when the reality is more complicated.


shesthesheriff said...

Rubin is here to get the story--the big scoop!

What does that mean anyway, the scoop? Were the first journalists also ice cream vendors on the side to pay their student loans?

Jonathan Rubin said...

That's so true it's scary, my friend. And your blog needs you!