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Monday, July 13, 2009

Greek telethon for Gaza a scam

From JTA (h/t Vicious Babushka):
A campaign in Greece to raise money to rebuild a Chrisian Palestinian hospital in Gaza allegedly destroyed by Israel appears to be a scam, JTA has learned.

The hospital that was the focus of a campaign, which included the participation of Greece’s president and foreign minister, never actually existed.

For nearly a week in February, Greece’s official state television network inundated viewers with news about a telethon that would take place Feb. 9 to raise money to “rebuild the Christian hospital in Gaza that Israelis destroyed with their bombs” during the Israeli army's operation there in January.

In its announcements, the network made clear that it was referring to a specific Christian hospital destroyed by Israel.

The telethon included recorded video messages by Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, along with a parade of Greek politicians, singers, public personalities and trade unionists. Many used the telethon to cast broadsides at Israel.

The campaign raised $1.67 million, according to telethon organizers, who said little Greek children had gone so far as to break their piggy banks to offer $14 to Palestinians in need.

A JTA investigation revealed, however, that no Christian hospital was on the list assembled by the United Nations and the Red Crescent Society of structures in Gaza damaged and destroyed as a consequence of the Israel-Hamas war in January.

...

One thing is certain: In a six-hour telethon loaded with Israel bashing, the Greek public was deceived that money contributed would go to rebuild a Christian hospital destroyed by the army of the Jewish state.

What remains unclear is whether organizers deliberately perpetrated the fraud or the telethon had fallen into the deception by accident.