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Israel's World Vision crime sham

Image of Mohammed El Halabi, World Vision's area development programme manager [Mohammad Awed]
Mohammed El Halabi, World Vision's area development programme manager, 8 August 2016 [Mohammad Awed / APA]

The crackpot Israeli hasbara circus featuring the four clowns of the truth apocalypse, Shin Bet, the Israel government, Shurat HaDin and the mainstream media fools, has, yet again, hit the world stage with the usual lame show of fact contortions, tight rope slander and smoke and mirrors fantasies.

Taking a leaf from the Bush-Blair weapons of mass destruction hoax, Israel is going all out to divert anti-Israel opinion on its monumental humanitarian disaster to a fictitious crime allegedly perpetrated by the very victims of said humanitarian  disaster – Israel's wars on Gaza – by concocting an elaborate false crime of embezzlement and terrorism by Mohammed El-Halabi, the dedicated zonal manager for World Vision in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

Mohammed El-Halabi

El-Halabi, a family man and "trusted colleague" has worked tirelessly for World Vision for a decade. On World Humanitarian Day 2014, celebrating aid workers, El-Halabi was profiled by the UN as a Humanitarian Hero – a truly well-deserved honour when one considers the horrors Palestinian families face, and particularly aid workers at the emergency front of the carnage, destruction and suffering.

His decades of humanitarian care include Israel's war crimes in "Operation Cast Lead", "Operation Pillar of Defence" and the monstrous 51-day war on Gaza, "Operation Protective Edge".

This good man of remarkable humanitarian calibre, who, like all Gazans, is shadowed by post-traumatic stress disorder and the daily incessant stress of the Zionist siege, was arrested on 15 June returning to Gaza from completing business for World Vision in the West Bank. He was held incognito without charge or access to a lawyer for 25 days by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) known as Shin Bet.

Greatly concerned, World Vision's statement on 21 June states:

"To date, World Vision is not aware of his whereabouts and of what (if anything) he is being accused.

World Vision is extremely concerned about the safety of Mohammed, and is working closely with its lawyer, diplomatic and government contacts to get more information on the situation, push for fair legal representation, and ultimately get him released as soon as possible."

In a statement on 29 July, the organisation affirmed El-Halabi's moral stature:

"World Vision stands by Mohammed who is a widely respected and well regarded humanitarian, field manager and trusted colleague of over a decade. He has displayed compassionate leadership on behalf of the children and communities of Gaza through difficult and challenging times, and has always worked diligently and professionally in fulfilling his duties."

Then it called for his release and

"on authorities to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and proceed fairly and objectively on the presumption of innocence."

The headlines

The presumption of innocence, a precious democratic value that stands at the core of the rule of law was instantly ignored by western mainstream Pavlovian presstitutes who salivated guilt headlines at the ring of the Zionist bell.

  • World Vision Palestinian funds suspended over Hamas charges – The Australian
  • Australia suspends World Vision's Palestine aid after allegations funds were diverted- The Guardian (Australia)
  • British donations to Christian charity World Vision were 'used to build a Hamas military base in Gaza' – The Telegraph (UK)
  • World Vision's Gaza manager funneled millions to Hamas: Israel – NBC News
  • Israel: World Vision Gaza boss diverted cash to Hamas – BBC News
  • Australia suspends World Vision aid after Hamas stole Gaza charity – Jerusalem Post
  • Israel charges aid group's Gaza branch manager with funneling funds to Hamas – New York Times

Compare these to

  • Christian charity rejects Israeli claim funds went to Hamas – Electronic Intifada
  • World Vision says Gaza aid is audited, doubts Hamas pocketed millions – Times of Israel
  • World Vision: Al-Halabi is a 'trusted colleague' – Days of Palestine

World Vision's scrupulous audits

Along with the presumption of innocence, the lackey press blithely overrode World Vision's assertion that its operations in Palestine were "absolutely clean" due to meticulous regular audits. Tim Costello, CEO World Vision Australia, emphasized:

"We have nothing to do with terror, with diverting funds, and other donor governments, besides the Australian government, that fund us, have done audits too, without ever any suggestion of this impropriety."

This was affirmed by World Vision International: "Programmes in Gaza have been subject to regular internal and independent audits, independent evaluations, and a broad range of internal controls aimed at ensuring that assets reach their intended beneficiaries and are used in compliance with applicable laws and donor requirements."

Shin Bet fabrications

Furthermore, without a second of research or corroboration, the press duly regurgitated the false information of a fictional thriller, mediocre at that, fabricated by Shin Bet and disseminated by the Israeli government oblivious to the blatant inconsistencies.

"It said the aid money he funnelled to Hamas, and to its military wing the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, amounted to about $7.2m (£5.4m) a year." (BBC) and "divert up to $50 million over the years to the militant group, which rules Gaza, creating fictitious humanitarian projects and doctoring inflated receipts in order to get the funds to Hamas, said the Shin Bet."  (Washington Post)

These hyperbolic figures far exceed World Vision's conservative budget for Palestine.

Any journalist with integrity would meticulously question every comma and full stop presented by Shin Bet, let alone El-Halabi's so-called confession and all confessions extracted under duress i.e. torture by Shin Bet.

"Arutz Sheva reported that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein 'personally and concretely' approved torture" by Shin Bet against the Duma arson Jewish suspects. Furthermore, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) demanded "the Justice Ministry to immediately launch an investigation" into the illegal brutal torture which was denied by Shin Bet. It "included sleep deprivation for days, the beating of a minor's sensitive organs until he could not feel kicks and slaps, and one suspect whose head was pulled backwards until he violently vomited."

And on 14 November 2014, Shin Bet was accused by the Israeli army Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz (the Butcher of Gaza), of presenting a "false narrative ahead of potential investigative committee into 'Operation Protective Edge'."

If Shin Bet can torture and/or falsely accuse their own, imagine what they did to El-Halabi during the 25 days he was held by them incognito.

Richard Silverstein  reveals that while the futile military search in April 2015 was conducted for the (hoax) kidnapping of Israeli soldier Niv Asraf, Shin Bet arrested a Palestinian journalist in Hebron and extracted a "confession for a crime that never was".

Israel cries "wolf" every day, and these falsehoods play on its fantasy victimhood. There are far too many examples to list, but here are some: Israel the fourth largest nuclear military power has a right to defend itself against a Palestinian resistance armed with stones and piddly home-made rockets. Since October 2015, Israel has perpetrated extrajudicial killings against over 200 Palestinians most of whom were carrying invisible knives. Then remember how the Israeli commandoes were defending themselves as they massacred nine unarmed humanitarian workers on the Mavi Marmara?

The Hamas factor

A major Israeli hasbara success is the branding of Hamas as a terrorist organisation so that mention of the group rings alarm bells in the press and public. Consequently, Shin Bet's accusation that El-Halabi is a Hamas operative rendered readers irrationally comatose to the truth.

Hamas is a legitimate resistance movement. It has the right to resist Israel's occupation and oppression which are illegal under international law. Israel, with its war crimes, crimes against humanity, apartheid policies, colonial expansionism and acts of genocide against the people of Palestine is a state terrorist and should be expelled from the UN.

Shurat HaDin

Shin Bet's yappy sidekick, Shurat HaDin, is an Israeli law firm that demeans the law profession. It has a sorry record for falsely accusing BDS activists, such as Professor Jake Lynch of Sydney University of anti-Semitism. It has joined the attack on World Vision after having failed in its previous case against the charity in 2012 for allegedly providing "financial aid to a Gaza-based terrorist group", the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, which is simply a humanitarian non-profit company. The charge was investigated by AusAID and the Australian Federal Police which concluded there was no evidence to support Shurat HaDin's absurd claims.

Israeli government motives

Ali Abunimah has comprehensively set out the hidden agendas behind the attack on World Vision: "Israel has launched a major crackdown on domestic and Palestinian nongovernmental organisations through intimidation campaigns and repressive legislation."

"By spreading sensational allegations that a group as well-known as World Vision is "funding terrorism," Israel may seek to put other organisations and the Israel-friendly Western governments that fund them on notice that all their operations, especially in Gaza, are at its mercy," he wrote.

"It may also be an effort to break growing solidarity for Palestinians in churches, where there has been a strong push to hold Israel accountable through boycott, divestment and sanctions" and ensuring it "controls entry of reconstruction supplies into the territory."

Now Save the Children and UNDP have been added to the grotesque fiction. Israel's attacks are not just against NGOs but to curb aid to traumatised children imprisoned in Israel's ground zero. Suffer, the little children of Gaza!

Yet, while Shurat HaDin's, ShinBet's and the Zionist government's campaign against World Vision and El-Halabi is blatantly bogus, the sunny side – yes, there is a sunny side – is that these clowns are trashing the fake moral reputation that Israel is desperate to protect.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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