The head of a controversial charity is leaving without a job to go to amid investigations by the Charity Commission into the organisation’s “campaigning and political activities”.War on Want was actually the major sponsor of Israeli Apartheid Week this year, as this poster detail shows:
John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, will step down next month after growing controversy about the charity’s work against Israel. War on Want funds Israeli Apartheid Week, an event at universities that Jewish Human Rights Watch has accused of “targeting and harassing Jewish students and inviting anti-semitic speakers to campuses”.
At this year’s event, War on Want paid for the accommodation of a speaker, Steven Salaita, who appeared to defend violence, saying: “If we are going to reduce a project of ethnic cleansing, illegal settlement and military occupation to the minuscule chance that a soldier or a settler will be harmed by an act of resistance by the natives, then we forfeit all right to be taken seriously.”
Another speaker, Malia Bouattia, who is now president of the National Union of Students, claimed UK government policy was fuelled by “Zionist and neocon lobbies”. A third called for Israel’s destruction.
War on Want also campaigns against the “violence of neoliberalism”, saying benefit cuts in the UK are a form of “violence against the poor”. British law says an organisation cannot be a charity if its purposes are political, but War on Want explicitly says it is a “political organisation” that believes in “justice, not charity”.
Its website states: “We do not provide humanitarian relief or deliver services to the poor . . . For War on Want, change comes from contesting power through concerted political action.”
The Charity Commission said it had received complaints about War on Want, “particularly in respect of its campaigning and political activities”, and would be publishing an “operational case report” into the charity, a rare procedure that is carried out only when there is “significant public interest in the issues involved” or “lessons that other charities can learn” from it. The case began last year after a complaint by Jewish Human Rights Watch.
Hilary has repeatedly denied the existence of any inquiry, calling it a “complete fabrication.” This year he said the Charity Commission had “rebuffed all the complaints which were made against War on Want in the past by certain different Zionist groups”.
However, in an email seen by The Sunday Times, a commission official, Neil Robertson, said it was “not necessarily” taking up Jewish Human Rights Watch’s specific concerns but had identified “regulatory issues of our own that require attention”.
Hilary said: “My decision to leave the organisation was taken many months ago, in view of the fact that I have been at War on Want for 12 successful years. Any implication there is another reason . . . is pure fantasy.”
Their website brags:
War on Want has worked for decades to support the call for justice for Palestinians. We support the activist movement behind the Palestinian call for a global campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, focusing on high-profile actions and direct challenges to corporations complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. War on Want coordinates its actions closely with the Boycott National Committee in Palestine, as well as with Palestinian social movements and human rights groups opposing Israel’s continuing oppression of the Palestinian people. We confront UK and EU support for Israel through our call for an immediate cessation of all contact with Israeli arms manufacturers, including those responsible for building the next generation of UK military drones. Our credibility and strong partnerships with Palestinian organisations give War on Want a unique position as the largest mainstream charity demanding justice for Palestinians.Notice it doesn't say "occupation." The organization is against Israel altogether, and Israel is the only country it targets in such a way.
One of its funders is Interpal, which is designated by the US State Department as a terrorist organization.
(h/t Adam Levick)