Over 20 civil society organisations and activists have written to the Charity Commission asking what action it has taken against two British registered charities that are supplying combat equipment to the Israeli army, in apparent contravention of its regulations.
Charity Commission: supposedly investigating UKAWIS
First, and the UK Friends of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israeli soldiers (UKAWIS) is a London based organisation. It says it is “dedicated to enhancing the well-being of Israeli soldiers.” UKAWIS’s website previously showed a video of what appears to be a Palestinian throwing a projectile and being blown up immediately afterwards followed by a montage of air strikes on Palestinian targets. UKAWIS has since deleted the page, and has removed the video from YouTube.
An article published in Byline Times on 8 Jan 2024 quotes the commission as saying that there is an “active case” against UKAWIS based on a historic complaint about fundraising activities.
The letter to the Charity Commission, coordinated by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), states:
Even if that is the case, we struggle to see how providing support to armed forces, especially one that is currently on trial for waging a genocide against an occupied and besieged population in Gaza can be consistent with any bona fide charitable aims.
Then, the letter also criticises the commission’s failure to act firmly and decisively on previous complaints. The signatories say this has led to a situation whereby charities continue to exploit the financial advantages conferred by charity status to raise money from the public for the pursuit of the military objectives of a foreign force.
This is in reference to a complaint made by IHRC in 2015 regarding the activities of UK Toremet. It is a UK charity that provides a portal that funnels money to a range of Israel-based organisations, including the Israeli army.
The outcome of the Commission’s enquiries confirmed IHRC’s accusation but it appears that the commission has not taken strong enough action against UK Toremet and there are still question marks over how effectively it is being scrutinised.
UK Toremet is still being used as a conduit for funds to be distributed to organisations helping soldiers in the Israeli army.
One of these organisations is One People. It was set up after 7 October 2023 to, in its own words:
provide IDF soldiers and rapid response teams with the bulletproof vests, helmets and other lifesaving equipment.
One People’s website previously listed UK Toremet as a partner organisation through which people can donate to it. One People was also listed by Yad L’Olim, a non-profit organisation in Israel, as a conduit for funds to Israeli soldiers and their units, supplying lone soldiers with helmets, vests, armour, tactical glasses, knee pads, and tactical gloves.
Last week IHRC submitted a fresh complaint to the charities watchdog about UK Toremet.
The signatories of today’s letter say that the supply of military equipment to a state army that is currently on trial for genocide in the International Court of Justice barely meets the threshold of what is legal, let alone what can be considered a charitable purpose.
Charity funding for military equipment?
Moreover, the letter states that:
continued fundraising for an army accused of committing a genocide brings the charities involved into disrepute and runs the real risk of tarnishing the reputation of the entire sector as people may view charities as a means to raising funds in the UK to break laws abroad.
In recent years the Charity Commission has waged a crusade on Muslim organisations accused of infractions of charity regulations. Even when the infractions have been minor or the complaints dubious and/or malicious, the commission has brought down the full weight of its powers on the charities concerned.
However, the regulator’s enforcement of regulations against Jewish charities has been toothless in comparison.
The full letter can be read here.
Featured image via the IDF – Flickr