UK Lawyers for Israel and The Lawfare Project have filed a complaint to the Charity Commission against the UK registered charity, War on Want. The complaint outlines in detail War on Want’s alleged links to terrorist organisations, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), its alleged misuse of charitable funds for the production and dissemination of political propaganda and its alleged publication of misleading allegations likely to result in racial hatred of Jews and Israel.
The complaint describes how War on Want misleads donors regarding the Palestinian Territories, exploiting ignorance and prejudice against Israel with what the complaint describes as “dog-whistle fundraising.” This undermines public trust and confidence in War on Want and brings the charitable sector into disrepute.
UK Lawyers for Israel and The Lawfare Project have therefore asked the Charity Commission to take appropriate steps to ensure the proper administration of this charity and to ensure that its conduct is limited to activities for the public benefit within its charitable objects.
War on Want’s stated charitable objects, as indicated by the charity’s name, include a focus on global poverty relief and advocacy towards that goal. Yet the complaint makes clear that the charity’s disproportionate focus on Palestinian political campaigns is not in keeping with its charitable objects. By any metric used to measure global poverty, the Palestinian Territories do not in fact suffer from particularly high levels of poverty in global terms.
In practice, however, much of War on Want’s work involves political campaigns with little or no connection to global poverty. Of its annual income of over £1.9 million in the year to 31 March 2017, £526,692 was spent on “raising funds” and £555,315 was spent on “campaigns and policy”. A substantial part of that spending may have been used for the misleading and antisemitic propaganda described at length in the complaint.
In addition, War on Want spent £961,591 that year on “international programmes.” According to its website “around half of the money War on Want spends each year goes out to our partners around the world…..”. This suggests that War on Want funds Palestinian partner organisations such as Addameer, Al Haq and the BDS National Committee, all of which have well established links to terrorist organisations.
Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive of UK Lawyers for Israel, a voluntary organisation of lawyers fighting against the delegitimisation of the State of Israel, said:
”The name ‘War on Want’ is a misnomer. Much of their effort is devoted to a propaganda war against Israel, instead of combatting poverty in the really poor countries of the world. This misuse of charitable funds leaves children in Africa to starve, while promoting the goals of terrorists in the Middle East.”
Brooke Goldstein, the Director of the Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and litigation that files cases against antisemitic discrimination around the world said:
“The issue of left-wing antisemitism that has dominated British news this summer didn’t just come out of nowhere. There is an infrastructure of hatred against Israel that has fed and nurtured antisemitic narratives. NGOs like War on Want are vital to that infrastructure and it is about time the Charity Commission held them to account. It is unacceptable for a charity to misuse its funds to cosy up to groups with terrorist links, spread hatred and mislead the public.”
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING THE COMPLAINT
Links to the PFLP
War on Want has established links with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) via other NGOs with whom it has partnered.
Around half of War on Want’s expenditure goes to its partners around the world, so it is likely that War on Want makes substantial payments to these NGOs, thereby effectively using its charitable funds to support the PFLP and the implementation of its strategy, which aims to bring about the destruction of the State of Israel.
The PFLP is designated as a terrorist organization by the UK, US, EU, Canada, Israel and other countries. Recent atrocities for which the PFLP has claimed responsibility include:
- an attack on those praying at a synagogue in West Jerusalem on 18 November 2014, in which five Jewish worshippers and a Druze policeman were murdered and six other worshippers were injured, with axes, knives, and a gun;
- a drive-by shooting of passengers in a car on 29 June 2015, injuring four Israelis, one of whom died the following day.
The PFLP’s manifesto states that its object is “to destroy the state of Israel as a military, political and economic establishment which rests on aggression, expansion and organic connection with imperialist interests in our homeland.”
NGOs supported by War on Want connected to the PFLP include:
- Addameer (an official PFLP affiliate whose vice-chair is described on the PFLP website as its leader, and who was indicted in 2015 for calling for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.)
- Al Haq, whose General Director has convictions for recruiting for the PFLP and arranging PFLP training and is prohibited from travelling abroad due to his involvement in terrorism
- The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC). According to its website, “War on Want … works in partnership with the Palestinian Boycott National Committee to mobilise action against companies complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.” The BNC is an umbrella organisation whose members are listed on its website . The first in this list is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine (PNIF). PNIF’s members include Hamas, the PFLP, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, each of which has been designated as a terrorist entity in the US and the UK.
POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS WITH NO REAL CONNECTION TO CHARITABLE OBJECTS
War on Want’s charitable objects focus on relieving global poverty and this is reinforced by its name. War on Want raises money on the basis that it is fighting a war on “want”. However, much of its activity and expenditure are directed to promoting Palestinian political campaigns. These include:
- The “Political Prisoners’ Stories” campaign with Addameer, which falsely portrays terrorists imprisoned by Israel as political prisoners;
- The promotion of “Israeli Apartheid Week” at British universities;
- Campaigns to prevent Israel (and only Israel) obtaining military equipment;
- Promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel (and only Israel).
MISLEADING CLAIMS REGARDING POVERTY IN THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
War on Want justifies the political activity outlined above on the basis of poverty in the West Bank and Gaza, but its argument is misleading. By any of the metrics used to measure global poverty, the Palestinian Territories do not suffer from particularly high levels of poverty in global terms. Furthermore, the situation in Gaza has improved in this regard since 2007 when Israel imposed various controls (characterised by War on Want as a “siege” or “illegal blockade”) following the takeover of Gaza by the Hamas terrorist organisation.
Metrics used by the UN, World Bank and CIA through which the Palestinian Territories are shown to not suffering from the level of poverty misleadingly portrayed by War on Want include but are not limited to:
- Poverty gaps:
- a poverty gap from the World Bank poverty line of US$1.90 a day of 0.1% in 2011, compared to 17.8% for sub-Saharan Africa and 3.3% globally
- Life expectancy:
- in Gaza, life expectancy is 74.2 years, placing it mid-way in the chart, at number 124 out of 224 countries listed
- Child Malnutrition:
- Malnutrition of children under 5 years old in Gaza and the West Bank has reduced significantly since 2007 and is much lower than in sub-Saharan Africa, India, Indonesia, and many other countries. It is also significantly lower than in the neighbouring countries, Egypt and Jordan, and slightly lower than in Turkey
- The most common form of malnutrition in Gaza and the West Bank in 2014 was overweight
- Overall 15.4 % of children in Gaza and the West Bank suffered from some form of malnutrition in 2014. By contrast, in sub-Sahara countries over 60% of children suffer malnutrition, e.g. Comoros: 66.7%, Lesotho 64.9%, Gambia 64.9%, Ethiopia 64%, Niger 62.3%.
FALSE ALLEGATIONS REGARDING ISRAEL
In addition to War on Want’s misleading claims regarding levels of poverty in the Palestinian Territories, it also makes numerous false allegations regarding Israel that mislead donors and other members of the public and promote prejudice and antisemitism. This misconduct is contrary to the public benefit as it stokes hatred of Israel and Jews and encourages antisemitism. It is also liable to bring War on Want and charities generally into disrepute.
- Describing Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorism offences, including the murder of Israelis as “political prisoners”
- False allegations that “Israeli prisons and detention centres are known for their poor conditions and detainees often suffer from medical problems as a consequence, further compounded by the denial of adequate medical care.” In fact, Palestinians held in Israeli prisons receive medical treatment when required, their religious rights are respected, education is encouraged, and hot water, showers, sanitation, ventilation and electric infrastructure are provided. There are regular visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- Misleading descriptions of Israeli legal proceedings: War on Want alleges that “There is no semblance of due process in [Israeli military] courts”. In fact, the same evidentiary rules apply in the military as in civilian courts. For example, no prisoners can be convicted on a confession alone. Almost all defendants had legal representation.
- Exaggeration of violence by Israeli residents in the West Bank
FOR THE FULL COMPLAINT TO THE CHARITY COMMISSION PRESS HERE: