Comic Relief is one of the UK’s major charity campaigns, which has raised over ₤67 million since its establishment in 1985. According to their website, “The idea was simple – use comedy and laughter to raise money and change lives – while making sure that everyone had great fun at the same time.” But it turns out that in 2006 Comic Relief contributed ₤189,000 to UK registered charity War on Want (WoW). As NGO Monitor has reported, WoW claims to campaign “against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice,” placing great emphasis on its “Palestine” campaign. Despite a number of investigations by the UK Charity Commission for its political activities, WoW continues to ignore Palestinian terrorism, misrepresent international law and promote apartheid rhetoric, to justify boycott, sanctions and divestment campaigns against Israel. War on Want (WoW) also continues to use anti-Semitic imagery in its criticism of Israel. It has also adopted traditional anti-Semitic libels (such as “poisoning the wells”), repeating unsupported allegations that the IDF targets Palestinian water sources as a “punitive and discriminatory tool”. Its not clear how Comic Relief’s donation to WoW is spent. But even if grants are directed toward humanitarian projects, money is fungible and increases the NGO’s credibility. WoW’s total budget of £1,432,348 includes £535,536 allocated to “campaigning and policy work,” a major chunk of which is spent delegitmizing Israel. Below are some examples:
- UN Special Rapporteur and anti-Israel activist, John Dugard is featured in several places on the WoW website. Its “Time for Sanctions” webpage is introduced with a quote from Dugard, stating, “Israel’s defiance of international law poses a threat not only to the international legal order but to the international order itself.” Dugard’s activities have been documented as virulently anti-Israel and actively campaigns against the Road Map
- War on Want’s former General Secretary, George Galloway, is an MP in the UK for the RESPECT anti-Iraq war party whose website says “Israel has been formulating and directing UK and US foreign policy.”
- As reported by NGO Monitor, on July 9, 2006, War on Want held a meeting in London called “Profiting from the Occupation: A People’s Tribunal to expose the Corporations behind the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.” The keynote speakers list included Jeff Halper of ICAHDMIFTAH. The event’s political program sparked an investigation by the UK Charity Commission, as to whether WoW was abusing its legal status as a charity organization .
and Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and board member of the Palestinian NGO,
War on Want is also connected to the independent “Stop the Wall” campaign although the nature of the relationship is ambiguous. WoW claims that “it supports the work of Stop the Wall” and has described it as a “partner organization.” The lack of transparency in WoW accounts, however, makes it impossible to determine if this is a financial partnership. Like WoW, Stop the Wall campaigns for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, which it describes as an “apartheid state”. It is partnered with PENGON, a Palestinian umbrella organization whose primary political agenda is demonstrated by its continued promotion of the myths and distortions of events that took place in Jenin in April 2002. In May 2006, Stop the Wall also lobbied the UK’s largest teachers union, NATFHE, recommending that its members boycott Israeli academics. Stop the Wall said “the NATFHE vote is an important step towards the implementation of the call for academic boycott…and shows the determination of British academics not to be complicit with or supportive of Israeli Apartheid.”
Source NGO Monitor and NGO Monitor Blog