The Irish Catholic development charity, Trócaire, has removed from its website
a document for schools entitled, “Give Peace a Chance”. This follows criticism
of the organisation’s plying Irish schools with what many consider to be crude
Trocaire is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic church in Ireland and receives substantial funding from the Irish government. Its officer for Israel and Palestine is ex national co-ordinator of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Deep concern about Trocaire’s bias has been expressed in the media by elected representatives and commentators such as Richard Humphreys, Labour party Councillor for Stillorgan, near Dublin, and Mark Dooley, a Catholic philosopher. We applaud their determination to speak out on this issue.
NIFI met with the Belfast officers of Trocaire and its predominantly Protestant equivalent, Christian Aid, at Trocaire’s offices last year. We also raised this matter when we met with senior Catholic clergy in Belfast in October. We would like to thank NIFI supporters who wrote to the Belfast offices of Christian Aid and Trocaire to express their concerns. In December, over 160 people attended our event at which a Palestinian Christian gave a very different account of life in the West Bank from the narratives produced by Trocaire or Christian Aid.
NIFI welcomes this move by Trocaire and looks forward to working with relevant charities in Ireland to ensure their work and thinking about the Middle East takes into account Israeli as well as Palestinian perspectives. The lessons of the Northern Ireland peace process is that one-sided denunciations do not advance peace. Bridge building and dialogue are the only ways forward.
Councillor Richard Humphreys, in a statement issued last week, said: “Trócaire is an organisation set up by the Catholic Church and as such I would expect that it would make every effort to be even-handed on the Middle East. Sadly this is not the case. They have produced a document on the Israel-Palestine question which makes no effort at balance. It shows a Palestinian flag on the front cover and tells a one-sided story of Palestinian grievances in its content. Its potted history of the issue manages to make no reference to the Holocaust or the need for a Jewish state, and makes no reference to the fact that Israel was attacked in 1967. Its account of the rationale for the blockade of Gaza is laughably naïve and takes no account of the need to prevent terrorist attacks on Israel. And it frequently presents as facts what are tendentious and contested opinions, such as its views on the legality of Israel’s actions.”
“I appreciate that Trócaire is a campaigning organisation and as long as they direct their propaganda at adults one might say that this is all part of the robust exchange of ideas.” Humphreys said. “But as soon as they start insidiously introducing such propaganda to children, without giving an adequate account of the other side, there is a serious problem which warrants the attention of regulators, teachers, and the Catholic hierarchy. This shameful document should be condemned by all those who have an interest in ensuring that our young people are presented with a balanced and fair view of this issue.” Humphreys said.
“It is sadly ironic that Trócaire is choosing to demonise Israel while being markedly less militant on the mass slaughter of civilians by Syria. It is unacceptable, and indeed is unconsciously anti-Semitic, to condemn the world’s only Jewish state in a strident tone while speaking more softly, if at all, about much worse abuses by some Arab countries.”