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Cradley church's Gazan fundraiser sparks controversy
12:39pm Tuesday 31st July 2012 in News
CRADLEY worshippers who recreated the Gaza strip as part of a fundraiser for refugee children have been criticised for being “ill-informed” and “biased.”
Youngsters at Overend Methodist Mission spent 24 hours living on a piece of land at the side of the Banners Lane church to raise money for The Culture and Free Thought Association.
The Association, which is backed by Christian Aid, runs music, drama and education, sports and other activities for children in Gazan refugee camps.
But the move prompted a string of complaints by e mail and as well as 23 comments on the Halesowen News website.
Some were upset by the fact that worshippers were allowed to leave to use the toilet only after obtaining permission from an ‘Israeli guard’ and had to live on £1 a day.
Ruth Jacobs, director of the Birmingham based Israel Information Centre Midlands, said: “There are no Israeli guards in any of Gaza’s Palestinian Refugee camps preventing anyone from going to the toilet, as there are no Israelis in Gaza – civilians or soldiers - full stop.”
She went on: “Instead of promoting a biased ill informed attitude, would it not be more appropriate to provide an opportunity for local people to hear the voices of both Israeli and Palestinian moderates who would share their fears of the other as well as their hopes for the future of the two state solution?”
Hilary Mountford, said: “I'm contacting you to express my dismay that these young people were encouraged to act out this monstrous untruth.
“There is no humanitarian aid crisis in Gaza as Israel allows around 150 trucks per day in with aid. The Red Cross have officially stated there is no crisis. The young people failed to mention the 100s of rockets that land in Israeli towns every week.”
But some of the comments were supportive with Anne West saying: “Thank you to the young people of Overend Mission Church for highlighting the plight of people who live on The Gaza Strip.
Organiser Emma Alston, a youth worker at Overend Methodist Mission, said the seven youngsters taking part had not taken sides.
She said: “We picked that project because it had benefits for both sides in terms of the fact that it helps Palestinian children but also discourages them from becoming radicalised and getting involved in terrorism.
“The youngsters were trying to do something towards peace.”