Internet giant Google has been under fierce attacks from around the world this week, after replacing the name of Palestine on its maps application with Israel.
The Palestinian Journalists Front slammed Google for the move, stating that the removal of Palestine’s name from the maps was an attempt by the “Israeli scheme to establish its name as a legitimate state for generations to come” while obliterating Palestine forever.
PJF claimed the move was part of an effort to distort history and geography “as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland,” and “a failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs.”
PJF demanded that Google reverse the changes made in the maps application, since the move was “contrary to all international norms and conventions.”
The fact that there is no such entity as the State of Palestine did not come up in the attack.
A search for “Palestine” in Google Maps does yield a proper reference to the entity, but with a blank map of Israel, with the areas of Gaza, Judea and Samaria marked with a broken borderline but not mentioned by name. The information provided on the left under the title “Palestine” is:
The State of Palestine, also known simply as Palestine, is a de jure sovereign state in the Middle East that is recognized by 136 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state.
Israel, a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea, is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the biblical Holy Land. Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem. Within its Old City, the Temple Mount complex includes the Dome of the Rock shrine, the historic Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its financial hub, Tel Aviv, is known for Bauhaus architecture, beaches and nightlife.
The Arab daily Al Quds last week published an extensive report on the scope of youth emigration from Judea and Samaria, suggesting that as many as 400 thousand young Arabs have emigrated abroad over the past few decades. The report describes entire villages, such as the majority Christian village of Dir Dabuan, which are full of deserted mansions, with a smattering of elderly residents still living in the area.
A resident of Ramun village said that, out of his 44 classmates in the local school, 40 are living in the US, and the rest are inundated with offers to emigrate, because life in the US is much more comfortable for Arabs than life in Judea and Samaria. Apparently, an office in Ramallah coordinates Arab immigration applications and interviews at the American consulate in eastern Jerusalem. According to Al Quds, a survey of Gaza Strip residents found that 45% would like to emigrate if they could.
Demographer Jacob Feitelson said earlier this year that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, as well as the US census, hide or modify the data regarding the high emigration figures of Judea and Samaria Arabs, which he claims reach 10,000 a year. He says the PCBS keeps Arabs listed as living in the PA for seven years after they emigrate.
A 2006 study titled “The Million Person Gap: A Critical Look at Palestinian Demography,” by Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid and Michael L. Wise, suggested that population statistics and predictions of the PCBS are unreliable. A Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) study that subjects Palestinian demography to rigorous analysis shows that the 2004 Palestinian population of Judea, Samaria and Gaza stood at 2.5 million; not the 3.8 million claimed by the Palestinians. The 1997 PCBS population survey — which has been widely used as the basis for subsequent studies — inflated numbers by including more than 300 thousand Palestinians living abroad and double-counting more than 200 thousand Jerusalem Arabs included in Israel’s population survey. Later PCBS broadcasts echoed the forecasts of the 1997 study, reporting unrealized birth forecasts, including assumptions of a mass Palestinian return that never happened, and disregarding significant Palestinian emigration from the territories to Israel and neighboring Arab countries. The resulting PCBS report for 2004 inflated the size of the Arab population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza by more than 50%. The BESA study and further demographic research indicate that Israeli concerns about demographic pressure from Judea, Samaria and Gaza have been exaggerated.
It should be noted, in this context, that Louie Shabanah, a former Head of the PCBS, stated during a June 8, 2005 debate at Haifa’s Technion, trying to explain the inconsistencies between the figures offered by the PCBS and other Palestinian departments: “The Palestinian Health Department accounts for fewer births because – unlike the PCBS – it excludes overseas births….”
According to former ambassador Yoram Ettinger, the misuse of statistics by the Palestinian Authority has afflicted Israel and its supporters with an unwarranted mix of pessimism and fatalism. The aim has been to cajole Israeli policy-makers into a false assumption that conceding the Jewish geography of Judea and Samaria is a prerequisite to securing Jewish demography.
Ettinger insists that “in spite of Palestinian statistics, and the display of gross negligence by the international establishment — which accepts the PCBS and all other central bureaus of statistics at face-value without proper auditing – in July, 2016, there is a solid, long-term, 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefiting from an unprecedented robust tailwind of Jewish fertility and migration. Moreover, in July, 2016, there is a gap of 1.15 million people between the PCBS contended number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria (2.9 million) and the well-documented number (1.75 million).
Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law and an expert on constitutional and international law, tweeted Thursday night, following the indictment of the director of the World Vision charity in Gaza for diverting to terrorist ends the millions in charity contributions from evangelical Christians intended to support Gaza’s indigent population, noted Thursday night that WV was not an innocent bystander in this story of deception and terror. He pointed to a World Vision official publication titled, “Advancing a Just Peace in the Holy Land,” which states clearly:
“WV is committed to supporting initiatives, whether exclusively Palestinian, Israeli, or joint, operating from a framework of ‘coresistance.’ We welcome Israeli actions that resist the occupation and work towards restoring rights for Palestinians living in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Clearly, despite their hectic claims to the contrary, WV saw its mission in Gaza, Judea and Samaria as going much farther than feeding the children of the Holy Land, as its Australian CEO claimed Thursday.
Kontorovich then asked, speaking of innocent bystanders, “Can Israeli ‘human rights’ organizations that are World Vision’s ‘partners’ in ‘co-resistance’ please comment on that partnership?”
The same WV publication lists the charity’s numerous local partners in supposedly improving the lives of the suffering civilian population in Gaza. In a separate section headlined “OUR PARTNERS,” the charity lists “a number of local Israeli and Palestinian partners” with whom it collaborates, “along with international partners,” on “advocacy campaigns that focus on issues affecting the wellbeing of children in the Holy Land.”
We’ve already learned from the state prosecutor on Thursday that the work carried out by World Vision’s director and staff had nothing to do with the wellbeing of those children, but supported instead the murder of Jewish children and other Jewish civilians on the other side of Israel’s border. Now it’s time to examine who was in cahoots on the ground with the Hamas-run organization, and they should conceivably provide a record of their activities with Mohammed El Halabi, the Hamas-member director of the charity in Gaza.
Would a Knesset committee assemble the following NGOs’ representative for a hearing on their ties with El Halabi? According to World Vision, these NGOs are:
B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Hamoked, ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions), Rabbis for Human Rights, as well as local advocacy partners in “Palestine,” such as the Defense for Children International-Palestine Section, Ma’an Development Center, and Grassroots Jerusalem.
Israeli legislators and policymakers should find out the extent of the cooperation between these organizations and the man who was central to the advocacy campaign against Israel in the past decade, and who was also an agent for a major terror organization condemned by the civilized world.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has suspended aid to evangelical charity World Vision’s work in the “Palestinian Territories” following the indictment of the charity’s head in Gaza who was charged Thursday for funneling millions of dollars in cash and provisions to the terrorist Hamas organization of which he is a member.
According to AAP, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is investigating the “deeply troubling” matter.
“Any diversion of the generous support of the Australian and international community for military or terrorist purposes by Hamas is to be deplored and can only harm the Palestinian people,” a department spokesman told AAP on Friday, adding, “We are suspending the provision of further funding to World Vision for programs in the Palestinian Territories until the investigation is complete.”
According to AAP, Australia allocated World Vision $5 million over five years for agricultural projects and child trauma programs in Gaza.
World Vision Australia chief, Rev. Tim Costello told AAP, “We have absolutely nothing to do with terror. We audit every cent that goes through.”
Apparently not so, according to the prosecutor in Israeli district court in Beer Sheva who on Thursday charged Mohammed El Halabi, the Gaza director of World Vision, of diverting millions of dollars intended for Gaza’s needy to the Hamas projects of digging terror tunnels into Israel, paying the salaries of members of the Hamas military arm, and diverting humanitarian provisions to the Hamas terrorists during the 2014 Gaza war.
“I want to reassure Australians that World Vision’s money in Gaza is being spent on reducing poverty for Palestinian people, not terrorism,” Costello insisted, noting that El Halabi is a well-respected manager.
But according to El Halabi’s confessions to his Shabak interrogators, he has been a member of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas, since 2004, and usurped millions of dollars in donations, moving them to the Hamas coffers, diverted humanitarian aid to Hamas terrorists and their families, and transferred to Hamas’s possession thousands of tons of iron rods, digging equipment and plastic hoses, originally intended for agricultural use but in reality utilized by the Hamas tunnel builders.
For the past four years, Tel Aviv based civil rights center Shurat HaDin has been warning that funds provided to Gaza by the world’s largest evangelical charity World Vision were being utilized for terrorism, the organization said in a statement Thursday, following the indictment by Israel of Mohammed El Halabi, a Hamas terrorist and senior WV employee who is accused of transferring as much as $50 million in charity funds to support Hamas terrorist activities.
In 2012, Shurat HaDin notified the Australian government that its aid money administrated by World Vision was being transferred to front charities of Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. Both the Australian government and WV rejected Shurat HaDin’s warning.
In 2015, Shurat HaDin again cautioned the Australian government that WV was operating as an active arm of the PFLP and other terror groups. WV chief executive Tim Costello vehemently denied the charges and claimed that WV had “no interest in supporting terrorism.”
However, as of this week, Shurat HaDin’s warnings against WVA have been proven true. Israel’s internal security service has arrested a senior employee of World Vision ver the course of several years, to Palestinian terror organization Hamas.
According to Shurat HaDin President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, “for years we have been warning that WV is funding Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. WV has repeatedly denied our charges and refused to seriously investigate where its funds are going. They assured us that the organizations they fund had been vetted and were not engaged in terrorism. Who knows how many of Hamas’s missiles and stabbing attacks were funded by WV after they were put on notice that theey were financing Palestinian terror. The assistance to Gaza by foreign aid organizations is directly responsible for the murder of scores of Jews in Israel.”
On Wednesday, Christian Today reported that Mohammad El Halabi, an employee of World Vision (WV), the world’s largest evangelical Christian charity, had been detained on June 15 at the Erez crossing “on his way home from routine meetings” and was being held “without access to legal counsel or family visits,” which is normal fare in Israel with regards to security prisoners.
Last Friday, when El Halabi’s detention had been extended until August Tuesday, Aug. 2, WV’s eastern Jerusalem office released a statement saying, “World Vision stands by Mohammad who is a widely respected and well-regarded humanitarian, field manager and trusted colleague of over a decade. He has displayed compassionate leadership on behalf of the children and communities of Gaza through difficult and challenging times, and has always worked diligently and professionally in fulfilling his duties.”
It should be interesting to see the charity’s response to the charges submitted against El Halabi by the Southern District Prosecution in Beer Sheva District Court Thursday, describing him as Hamas activist who has been using his high position in the charity organization to systematically divert millions of dollars to the military arm of Hamas, financing, among other things, the digging of terror tunnels. The monies, according to Thursday’s indictment, was taken out of funds and resources that had been dedicated to humanitarian assistance to Gaza Strip residents. The indictment includes 12 counts of security violations of passing information to the enemy, membership in a terror organization, funding terrorism, participation in an unlawful association, and contact with foreign agents.
The facts included in the indictment describe El Halabi as having a master’s degree in engineering. A member of Hamas since 1995, in 2004 he joined the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas. In 2005 he was hired by WV to carry out administrative assignments at the charity’s Gaza branch. His job provided him with an entry permit into Israel. El Halabi exploited his visits to Israel to locate and mark [via GPS] sites near the Erez Crossing that potentially could be used as egress points for Hamas attack tunnels.
Carrying out his assignments, according to the prosecution, El Halabi usurped millions of dollars in donations that arrived from foreign countries such as the US, Australia, Germany and the UK, and were slated for humanitarian needs, agricultural, education, and psychological support.
According to El Halabi, the humanitarian aid donated for the residents of the Gaza Strip was in actual fact given almost exclusively to Hamas terrorists and their families. Non-Hamas members almost never received any benefit from the aid, despite their relative level of need. Needless to say, this is in contradiction to the accepted practice of the humanitarian aid organizations. Every month, El Halabi distributed thousands of packages of food, basic commodities and medical supplies to Hamas terrorists and their families, commodities that World Vision had intended to go to the needy.
Over his many years working for WV, El Halabi transferred to Hamas’s possession thousands of tons of iron rods, digging equipment and plastic hoses, originally intended for agricultural use but in reality utilized by the Hamas tunnel builders and for building military bases such as the “Palestine” military base which was built in 2015 entirely from British aid money. Some of the money went to pay the salaries of Hamas terrorists and, in some cases, senior Hamas terrorists took large sums of money for their own personal use. During the war of 2014, Hamas terrorists received WV food packages to sustain them above and below ground, including in terror tunnels.
El Halabi also provided plastic sheets bearing the WV emblem to cover the openings of tunnels, making them look like agricultural hothouses.
According to the indictment, around the year 2012, El Halabi was engaged by Hamas to initiate a greenhouse project, to use greenhouses to hide the sites where terror tunnels were being dug. In addition, a project for the rehabilitation of (fictitious) fishermen was actually used to provide motor boats and diving suits for Hamas’s military marine unit.
The Shabak investigation revealed that the main method El Halabi used to divert money to Hamas was to put out fictitious tenders for WV-sponsored projects in the Gaza Strip. The “winning” company was simply informed that 60% of the project’s funds were to be designated for Hamas.
El Halabi told his interrogators that a regular method of acquiring equipment for Hamas was to disguise Hamas warehouses as WV warehouses. Trucks bringing supplies to the Kerem Shalom Crossing between Israel and Gaza would then unload their goods at Hamas warehouses instead of legitimate WV warehouses. Hamas operatives would pick up the supplies in the dead of night.
According to Shabak, the El Halabi investigation revealed much information concerning additional figures in the Gaza Strip who exploited their work for humanitarian aid organizations and UN institutions, on behalf of Hamas. El Halabi’s statements portray a troubling picture in which UN institutions in Gaza are in fact controlled by Hamas.
How the Money Was Transferred to Hamas
Some of the money raised to support injured children in Gaza was diverted to the families of Hamas terrorists, by fraudulently listing their children as wounded.
Money designated for psychological support, education and health in Gaza ($2 million/year) was used to pay the families of Hamas terrorists.
Part of the WV donations was transferred in cash and recorded fraudulently as aid to needy children.
Monies were paid out as salaries to Hamas terrorists and activists, who were registered as employees of the aid organization when in fact they never worked for WV.
Costs for legitimate infrastructure projects were inflated, with the difference going to Hamas.
Straw companies — two farmers’ associations and a fake charity for the benefit of the injured — were established with false registers to launder money.
Unemployment payments were diverted to Hamas terrorists. El Halabi arranged for one-third of the allowances WV transfers to Gaza for the unemployed to go to members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The terrorists received a larger allowance ($392 instead of $300).
Using lists of fictitious beneficiaries, $2 million a year were designated as aid for farmers and diverted to Hamas activists. El Halabi reported a larger sum than what was actually transferred to the farmers to World Vision. The difference was diverted to Hamas.
Project costs were inflated. For example, WV invested in the construction of 500 greenhouses and the preparation of land (495 acres) for agriculture. El Halabi reported to the charity that the cost was $1,000 per quarter acre, while the real cost was $700. The difference – $300 per quarter acre – was transferred to Hamas.
In their 2014 report titled “Filling in the Blanks — Documenting Missing Dimensions in UN and NGO Investigations of the Gaza Conflict,” NGO Monitor and UN Watch have cautioned: “The willingness of World Vision workers to openly discuss these issues is exceptional; however, the answers leave little doubt as to World Vision’s willingness to negotiate and coordinate with armed groups. This raises questions as to whether the group would prevent components of its aid from being misappropriated by terrorist organizations, if it felt that taking a stand would jeopardize the organization’s ability to continue its operations in a given area.”
The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities recently issued the final draft of a report titled, “What’s Changed About Being Jewish in Scotland,” the catalyst for which was the huge spike in anti-Semitic incidents in August 2014 (the time of the Gaza War), when SCoJeC received almost as many reports in a single month as in the entire previous year:
“The large increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Scotland during the third quarter of 2014 following the war in Gaza came as an unwelcome shock, not only to the Jewish community, but to civil society at large. During august 2014 alone, SCoJeC received more than 25 reports relating to at least 12 separate anti-Semitic incidents, almost as many as in the whole of 2013, and police in Scotland advised us that they had received reports of threatening phone calls and e-mails, graffiti on synagogues, and two cases of incitement to break the criminal law. In addition, many people told us that they now felt uncomfortable, anxious, and in some cases even afraid, going about their day-to-day activities as Jewish people in Scotland. Although these absolute numbers may not seem high, the most recent Scottish government figures reveal that, when the size of the different faith communities is taken into account, Judaism is almost 8 times, and Islam 3 times as likely as Christianity to be the victim of religious hatred,” SCoJeC related on its website.
Like the 2012 study, the new report provides a comprehensive overview of what Jewish people in Scotland are thinking, feeling, and experiencing, based on responses from a significant cross-section of the Jewish population of Scotland, spread across the entire country “from the Borders to the Shetlands, from members of the larger Jewish communities in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the smaller ones in Dundee and Aberdeen, and also from Jewish people who live very many miles from the any Jewish facilities.”
“We heard from Jewish people whose families had lived in Scotland for generations, and people who had very recently arrived in Scotland from other parts of the world,” the organization says, adding, “We heard from members of the Orthodox, Reform, and Liberal Jewish communities, as well as from people with no connection to formal Judaism, from people who had no interest in the Jewish religion or Jewish ritual, but who, in a wide variety of ways, felt connected to Jewish culture or for whom particular foods or melodies evoked their childhood, as well as from people who only found out they were Jewish as adults.”
“As a child and teenager growing up in Edinburgh, I was proud to say I was Jewish and it was viewed positively by Edinburgh people who often had memories themselves of growing up alongside Jewish people and spoke enthusiastically of that. I am very wary now to be up front about being Jewish in certain circles, and especially after the events this summer .” (F, 60s, Edinburgh)
“As far as the children are concerned we are telling them to be less open about being Israelis. Two years ago it wasn’t like this. It is a question of safety now.” (M, 40s, Edinburgh)
“As more and more of my friends have moved away, I increasingly feel like a minority. I am not aware of any other Jews in my workplace (it is a large organization). I think this has made it even more important to me to represent my race in Scotland. It has also changed in the last year due to the Scottish reaction to Operation Protective Edge, in particular the raising of the Palestinian flag. I am using social media much more regularly to try and educate friends about the situation in the Middle East. (F, 30s, Glasgow)