In the past month, a plethora of emergency aid responses, organisational position statements and NGO campaigns have been launched in response to the catastrophic Israeli assault on Gaza. Unfortunately, these have been of mixed quality, with most of them making strong comments on the level of destruction in Gaza yet, meanwhile, refusing to publicly condemn the architect of this destruction – the Israeli state and its allies who provide resources regardless of their known complicity in war crimes.
Beyond this complicity in Israel’s destruction of Gaza, many parties are also maintaining complicity in Israel’s profiteering in Gaza’s reconstruction. Due to the nature of the land, air and sea blockade that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 (further compounded by the recent destruction of the majority of smuggling tunnels that were Gaza’s most important resource lifeline), the delivery of urgent humanitarian aid, including medical supplies, food, potable water and other necessities, is immensely challenging. Unfortunately, however, some organisations and private appeals have rushed to deliver these goods, without considering the manner in which they fundamentally strengthen the Israeli economy that resources the unrelenting attacks inflicted upon Gaza.
Furthermore, whilst the language and marketing style used throughout this campaign seek to suggest that that primary motivation of the campaign is one of dire humanitarian concern, donors should take caution. In an email circulated by the IPCRI on August 14, 2014, it is revealed that the original idea came not from IPCRI itself as a “peace” organisation, but from Israeli agricultural expert, Hillel Adiri. Adiri is currently a senior technical marketing adviser for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Beyond this, the economic rather than humanitarian motivations of this campaign are made exceedingly clear by Baskin himself. “They can’t market these potatoes [in Israel] because then the market would be flooded and the prices would go down…We don’t want our farmers to go bankrupt”, he said. In response to security and accountability questions, Baskin simply declared, “You’re not going to use potatoes to make rockets”.
PNGO subsequently calls on the international community to eschew recklessness in their distribution of aid funds to critically flawed campaigns that do nothing to sustainably assist the Palestinian people, yet do everything to support to Israel. Further we demand that FAO (and other humanitarian organisations) remain committed to its stated mission to “mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action”, and to “alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies” through rights advocacy, prevention mechanisms, and by “facilitating sustainable solutions”, instead of