22 January 2013
Why does Catholic charity Trócaire teach Irish and Arab children to hate Israel?
By Jacqueline Mulhern Twitter @JacqMulhern
Following embarrassing public revelations, Irish Catholic charity Trócaire has withdrawn a lesson plan it distributes in schools both in Ireland and Palestinian areas. It also has advertised for a consultant to overall its educational programs.
Trócaire, which means mercy in the Irish language, has no mercy for Israel’s suffering at the hands of terrorists. Instead, this group blames Israel for all the problems in the region, teaching children that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria and the military blockade of Gaza is the central reason for one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.
Trócaire is the official development agency of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. It receives funding not only from private donors, but also Irish Aid, the official development agency of the Republic of Ireland. It distributes collection boxes in Catholic schools for children to take home. Its Lenten and Christmas campaigns are heavily promoted.
These holiday campaigns, which often feature photos of smiling Africans in remote villages, camouflage their hatred of Israel. Trócaire actively petitions politicians for a boycott of Israeli settlement produce in the European Union, in violation of a trade agreement between the European Union and the State of Israel. The petition garnered approximately 1,500 signatures, a small showing in a nation of 4 million. Oddly, its documents and website do not feature Christian imagery or references.
“Give Peace a Chance” is an educational booklet that was intended to guide educators to teach about human rights. However, only the rights of Gazans seem important in this edition, which was deleted from Trócaire’s website. It says in a 2009 edition of the same document that “Because of a blockage on Gaza’s borders, people are forced to live in appalling conditions. Power cuts are a daily fact of life and homes destroyed because of conflict cannot be repaired. Their efforts to recover from the sustained bombardment and conflict have been made almost impossible because of an illegal blockade on the people of Gaza that has been in place since June 2007.” Egypt’s military blockade of Gaza is not a problem for them. The reasons for the blockade are not discussed. This document was distributed in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
No mention of suffering of Christians, homosexuals, women, political dissenters and ordinary citizens at the hands of Hamas is mentioned. Both the U.S. State Department and the European Union have put Hamas on a list of active terrorist groups. Tróocaire and Irish Aid send money to Gaza and this aid is classified as humanitarian and educational in nature.
The booklet, which provides exercises to promote discussions of human rights, features the story of a Palestinian boy in a UNWRA camp. There is a list of children’s human rights, although the numbers are not chronological. Trócaire does not make any mention of supplies provided for children in Gaza, but complains that Israel has prevented children from getting necessities and sports equipment: “Due to the blockade Gazans cannot access basic items such as spare parts for cars and buses, plastic sheeting for shelter, wheelchairs for their disabled, books and stationery for their students, or even footballs and music instruments.” [page 11]
Irish Labour politician and Dublin city counselor Richard Humphreys deconstructed the flaws in the educational plan in a recent editorial in the Irish Independent. Surely Israel isn’t the planet’s worst human rights offender?
You don’t need to be much of a lawyer to know that when it comes to political debate, words like “illegal in international law” or “war crimes” are often used as if these were proven matters of fact rather than, as they sometimes are, tendentious and biased opinions.
Although it has withdrawn the plan and advertised for an outside consultant to audit its programs, in Trócaire denies anti-Israeli bias claim it defends its educational plan as part of their campaign for “A Just World.”
Trócaire does not have an office in Israel, but prefers to fund local non-government groups that criticise the government. The list includes Rabbis for Human Rights, Breaking the Silence, B’Tzelem, but no pro-Israel charities.
Contact Joe Costello, the Irish member of parliament who oversees Irish Aid. His title is Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Trade and Development.
Why does a country that calls itself politically neutral support only one side of this conflict? Tell him that Trócaire should stick to charity, and stay out of politics.
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Further reading: Trócaire, NGO Monitor