Over the years Yvonne Ridley has helped raise millions of pounds for a wide variety of charities through television appeals, fundraisers, overseas events and speaking engagements but her favourite organisation is the one she describes as “the most heroic” I’ve ever encountered.
She is talking about the British charity Interpal which, over the last 25 years has become one of the foremost UK specialist NGOs working in Palestine, helping to protect the human rights of thousands of Palestinian families every year.
They have steadfastly helped to protect the human rights of Palestinians for so long despite some of the most aggressive and unprecedented forms of global bullying ever encountered by an NGO.
Some believe it is a miracle that Interpal has survived so long. The latest bruising encounter came in April 2020 when the British bank HSBC was drawn into the ugly political row when it announced it would be stopping processing standing order payments to the Palestinian aid charity.
Members of Parliament from both opposition parties and the governing Conservative Party joined forces in a chorus of condemnation of HSBC, with one senior Tory MP accusing the bank of “appalling moral cowardice”. Andrew Slaughter, an MP for the main opposition Labour Party and a former shadow justice minister, dispatched a letter to the chief executive of HSBC, Ian Stuart, demanding an explanation for HSBC’s decision.
Not only did HSBC make this decision during Ramadan but its impact in the Middle East will be felt by the poorest and most vulnerable in the region.
The charity has been investigated forensically by the Charity Commission previously but has always emerged with a clean bill of health with some of the many toxic allegations laid against it being proved to be totally unfounded.
“I really have to question the mindset of those who lodge objections against Interpal. It’s like grabbing the bread from the mouths of starving children. Why would you want to do that and what would motivate you?” asked Ridley.
Abu Yusuf, Interpal’s founder, also said that HSBC’s actions would “deny little children from access to necessities”.
“This action by HSBC… is a decision of such appalling moral cowardice, that it should shame the decision-makers and end any pretence that HSBC might claim to wider integrity and ethics,” Crispin Blunt, a Conservative MP and former chair of parliament’s influential foreign affairs select committee, recently told Middle East Eye.
The political storm erupted amid mounting concern that a charity could be undermined through the banking system even while operating completely legally within the UK.
Astonishingly HSBC has remained silent in the face of such criticism but there are many who believe it is a direct consequence of pressure exerted from the US, where the bank has extensive business interests and has previously been heavily fined for failing to comply with money-laundering regulations.
In other words, the international banking system is effectively being manipulated and used by US foreign policy especially in the Middle East. As a result of this financial bullying Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese and Iranians in the UK have had their personal and business accounts closed down, not because they have fallen foul of laws but simply because of their birthplaces.
Well, all I can say is that as individuals we must stand up to the bullies, no matter how powerful they may seem. Donald Trump’s America is not going to stop me putting bread on the table for those who need it most.
Therefore I would urge you to join me and continue to support Interpal. Here are its details and the website explains exactly how you can beat the bullies: https://www.interpal.org
This is a tiny charity which punches well above its weight. The charity’s driving force is its founder who is a one-woman tour-de-force when it comes to fighting for the vulnerable.
This includes refugee families, orphans and detained unaccompanied children that are at risk of organ trade, trafficking and kidnappings if left in detention centres, prisons or homeless on arrival to the Greek islands. They also conduct homeless aid distributions to help local populations including Greek nationals.
I am left breathless by everything the Goodwill Caravan founder Hanan Ashegh does and was moved to tears when I first heard about her work. More details are here: https://www.goodwillcaravan.com
Al Khair Foundation
This charity was launched without much fanfare in 2003 and has now become the third-largest Muslim charity in Britain today thanks to the hardworking and determination of the team of workers and volunteers led by Imam Qasim.
The reason why I mention Al Khair is because of its transparency and push to make other charities clean up their acts when it comes to distributing donations.
If you are a donor, like me, you want to know how your money is being spent. There’s been too much abuse and financial chicanery in the charitable sector but now the accounts of all registered charities are laid bare on the website of the Charity Commission.
Trust is vital in this sector and I trust Al Khair. There’s more information on the foundation’s website: https://alkhair.org