SWC Condemns World Vision Official for False and Damaging Remarks About Israel

January 30, 2015

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemns remarks made by a ranking figure of World Vision, the global charity giant, that malign Israel and undermine her very right to exist. The address by Steve Hass, Vice President and Chief Catalyst for World Vision US appeared in a journal of the Lausanne Movement, the forum for evangelical political, social, intellectual, and religious thought founded decades ago by Billy Graham, ironically a long time friend of Israel.

“Haas embraces the big lie of Israel practicing ‘apartheid on steroids,’ ” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Associate Dean of the Wiesenthal Center. “Hamas and Hezbollah are criticized, albeit not by name, for ‘violent reprisals.’ Hass implies that suicide bombers, terror tunnels, and thousands of rockets aimed at Israel’s civilians are nothing more than expected “reprisal” for the crimes of Israelis, including – contrary to fact – ‘the largest and longest occupation of another people group in modern history.’ The worst is his dismissal of the validity of Israel’s right to exist as the Jewish State. Hass speaks of Israel as the place ‘which Jews perceive [emphasis ours] as their sovereign homeland.’ He cynically ignores thousands of years of Jewish connection---from the Biblical era to modern times – a continuous presence in the Holy Land, including a century and a half of Jewish upbuilding of the modern State. World Vision (WV) has a storied reputation for bringing relief where it is needed around the world, and should stick to its mandate of bringing relief to the needy, and not add to an international chorus of those seeking to demonize and delegitimize Israel, the lone democracy in the Middle East, the only nation in the region that protects the rights of all religions within its borders.”

“Unfortunately, Haas’ calumny is just the latest in a series of actions of World Vision that are hostile to the Jewish people,” added Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s director of interfaith affairs. “World Vision calls Grassroots Jerusalem one of its ‘strongest advocacy partners.’ Grassroots promotes the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement that globally seeks to destroy Israel by delegitimizing it. World Vision endorsed ‘With God on Our Side,’ a hopelessly biased and inaccurate film aimed at luring evangelicals away from support of Israel. WV President Richard Stearns charged in 2012 that Israel allowed only a small number of Christians to attend Easter services. Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren then demonstrated that ‘any Christian from the West Bank can reach Jerusalem on Good Friday and Easter’ and that ‘All allegations to the contrary are flagrantly untrue and represent a reckless attempt to defame the Jewish state.’ A retired VP who had just left WV referred to Hezollah’s terror-czar Nasrallah as among 'our friends', and spoke of working with him to influence the Obama administration.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center calls on World Vision to reconsider its hostile stance on Israel, on evangelicals to reaffirm their historic friendship to the Jewish State, and on Jews to speak to their Christian friends about where they can better direct their charitable contributions without damaging the interests of Israel and of Jewish-Evangelical relations.

For further information please contact Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein at 310.772.2464, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).