Ryan Rodrick Beiler was the Sojourners web editor from 1999 to 2010. He currently works as a freelance photojournalist based in Oslo, Norway.
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Undeterred by the Facts
ON JUNE 15, 2016, Mohammed el-Halabi, manager of World Vision’s Gaza programs, was arrested by Israeli authorities, accused of funneling millions of donor dollars to Hamas, the Islamist political party that rules inside Gaza.
The case made international headlines—and had a dangerous chilling effect on Christian aid organizations working in the Middle East.
Well before el-Halabi had the opportunity to be tried—let alone convicted—of any crime, the Israeli foreign ministry prepared talking points, background materials, infographics, and videos, ordering the country’s diplomats to hype el-Halabi’s alleged confession to media and senior government officials around the world.
“Contacts, journalists, and relevant opinion makers should be briefed,” ordered senior foreign ministry officials, with particular focus on targeting “liberal and religious groups,” reported an Israeli newspaper.
But cracks in the Israeli government’s case appeared almost immediately. The most gaping: “World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past 10 years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted hard to reconcile,” said Kevin Jenkins, president and CEO of World Vision International.
According to World Vision, its programs in Gaza are subject to internal and independent audits and external evaluations to ensure that funds benefit those intended, precisely the nearly half of Gaza’s population living in poverty under a crippling blockade enforced by Israel. El-Halabi was accused of embezzling $50 million, yet World Vision’s accountability process caps signing authority at $15,000.
Undeterred by the facts, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson told Australian media: “It’s like when you catch a serial killer; the question of whether he killed 50 people or 25 people is not really relevant, is it?”
Pro-Israeli, Pro-Palestinian, Pro-Jesus
Evangelicals are no longer automatically taking a one-sided approach to conflict in the Middle East—and with that change comes hope for a troubled region.
Gaza: The Persistent Paradox
Gaza, a land at once ugly and impoverished—and beautiful and rich.
Toothbrushes, Towels, and Tackling Root Causes in Gaza
We met 10-year-old Noor Al-Abid in November during our first visit to Gaza.
Nakba Day Protests: Palestine's Arab Spring?
The scenes were stunning: Hundreds of demonstrators pouring across the fence between Syria and the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.
Nonviolent Activists in Palestine Face Harassment, Prison, and Violence
Last Friday, at a protest against the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank town of Bil'in, Palestinian nonviolent activist Jawaher Abu Rahmah was killed by http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fmondoweiss.net%2F2011%2F01%2Fde...
Planning for Peace
A Prophetic Milestone Toward Peace
Palestinian Christians call for a nonviolent movement to end the occupation.
Video: Colbert Interviews Elizabeth Warren on Financial Reform
Stephen Colbert does the second best interview in recent memory with economist, passionate advocate for consumer protection, and veteran Sunday school teacher Elizabeth Warren. Second best, that is, to Sojourners' interview with her for our April magazine cover story.
Images from White House Immigration Rally and Civil Disobedience
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