UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

MuslimGiving removes Education Aid for Palestinians

The specialist Muslim fundraising organisation “MuslimGiving” has today removed Education Aid for Palestinians (EAP) from its platform.

This follows a letter from UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), pointing out that EAP is banned in Israel for its links to the Hamas terrorist organisation.

MuslimGiving is an online donation platform, launched one year ago,  whose goal is to help UK Muslim charities raise funds.  EAP was one of the charities using the platform, and its own website donation pages had recently been redirected to the MuslimGiving site.

Although EAP is authorised as an English Charity under the auspices of the Charity Commission,  it is a banned organisation in Israel, because of its links to the Hamas terror group.     Furthermore, one of EAP’s trustees is personally designated by Israel’s terror financing prohibition agency as part of the Hamas network.

Since online fundraising platforms operate globally, they must be aware that if they fundraise for organisations that are designated as terrorist entities in certain countries, they are likely to  be in breach of those countries’ anti-terrorism laws.

EAP has a close relationship with the UK organisation  Interpal,  an English  charity, regulated by the Charity Commission,  which is designated as a terrorist organisation in the US  Canada,  [1]  Australia  [2]  and Israel.  Interpal denies that it is a terrorist entity but the designations remain in force.  Interpal describes itself as “a specialist, non-political charity working to support the most vulnerable and support Palestinian communities and says “We exist to empower Palestinians to face their challenges and hardships in our principal areas of operation: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.”

Interpal provided EAP with a grant of over half its total income in the year to 31 December 2017, according to EAP’s 2017 accounts.    Page 17 of EAP’s 2017 Annual Report states that Interpal made a grant to EAP in 2017 of £764,839, which is over 50% of EAP’s total income for 2017, which was around £1.4 million (including gift aid).

Page 10 of EAP’s Annual Report states, under the heading “wider network”,  that EAP has signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Interpal whereby “both parties will collaborate in humanitarian relief and development projects, exchange of information and cooperation in all relevant areas to facilitate their common goals.”

EAP’s 2017 annual report containing the above information is available on the Charity Commission website HERE

EAP is itself banned as a terror organisation in Israel.   In July 2008 EAP was named as one of 36 organisations from around the world that were banned by Israel for being members of the “Union of Good”, part of the network that raised funds for, supported and assisted Hamas.[4]   The Union of Good was also designated by the US as a terrorist organisation in December 2008.[5]

One of EAP’s current trustees is Zaher Birawi.    In December 2013 Israel’s money laundering and terror financing Prohibition Authority declared that Zaher Birawi personally had an unlawful association with Hamas. [8]

MuslimGiving has acted quickly to remove EAP from its platform. Ebadur Rahman,  one of its co-founders,  thanked UKLFI for bringing this matter to his attention. He wrote:  “We were not aware of the information that you provided us with. I can confirm that we have terminated all fundraising pages for EAP on MuslimGiving and immediately ceased providing services to EAP forthwith.  We believe in safer giving and work with all agencies to ensure this.”

In February 2019, donations to EAP were severely disrupted when their credit card donations facility was withdrawn, and they were also dropped by the Just Giving fundraising platform. Their website was closed down for around a week, then re-opened with a direct link from the donations page to the Muslim Giving fundraising platform.   Now this too has been withdrawn.

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “ Muslim Giving acted quickly in removing its services from EAP.  It is good news for Muslim Charities when Muslim organisations act in such a responsible manner.  It is surprising that the Charity Commission allows organisations that are designated as terrorist entities elsewhere in the world to continue to operate as charities in the UK, and to benefit from thousands of pounds of government Gift Aid.”