Israel-Palestine conflict: Charities and NGOs step in. Philanthropy not so much


Shafi Musaddique


As the human death and injury toll increases with no end to the escalating violence in both Israel and Palestine, the world of philanthropy, charity and NGOs have responded in mixed ways – mostly offering aid for short term emergency responses, as opposed to a focus on long term community building. 

Some philanthropic efforts have arrived for Israeli emergency groups. Jewish Funders Network says it is assisting funders and donors. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which operates humanitarian teams in Israel, is also raising funds.

According to eJewish Philanthropy, investment group Blackstone Group pledged $7 million in aid for Israel, joined by other US-based co-operations. Media company Fox Corporation pledged $1 million to the UJA-Federation of New York’s Israel Emergency Fund, while credit card company Mastercard told staff that it would offer a 1:1 match for donations of $25 or more up to $15,000 per employee. US businessman and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg has also pledged to match donations to Magen David Adom, an Israeli medical emergency aid organisation.

Philanthropy has largely gone missing for the people of Gaza, though institutions such as the Arab Foundations Forum (AFF), have long spear headed efforts to bring donors closer to smaller organisations. AFF has launched a Gaza appeal in partnership with three foundations and non-profits operating in Gaza, and is working on setting up a task force that will take a longer perspective of the crisis.

Charities and international NGOs have provided the bulk of Palestinian humanitarian aid, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) members on the ground.

Despite warnings from Israeli authorities to evacuate Gaza, the ICRC said it will remain. It warned on Monday that civilians in Gaza lack food, electricity and water.

“Life-saving aid must be allowed into Gaza. With hostilities ongoing, the parties must ensure the civilian population has access to shelter, food, health, hygiene and safety. If the parties cannot meet these obligations, they must allow and facilitate the passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need,” said ICRC president Mirjana Spoljaric.

Alliance chief editor Charles Keidan argues that progressive philanthropy has gone missing once again in both Israel and Palestine. When it was needed most, the world of philanthropy has fallen silent. Read more in Charles’ column, looking at the decades long failure by philanthropy to bring divided groups together.

Shafi Musaddique is a news editor at Alliance magazine.

Tagged in: Israel-Palestine Conflict

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