23 FEBRUARY 2002, Page 34

From Dr Daleep Mukarji Sir: The suggestion behind Melanie Phillips's

article was that Christian Aid has been infiltrated or otherwise influenced by those espousing anti-Semitic views. We deny that idea completely. Christian Aid's mandate is to strengthen the world's poor, firm in the belief that all people are made in the image of God and therefore of equal worth. We have spent more than 50 years fighting poverty, racism and exclusion. In Israel and the Palestinian territories we work with Jewish, Muslim and Christian people, and have done so for more than 25 years. Criticism of Israeli government policy, which we have voiced and which we will continue to voice as we see fit, is purely in the context of humanitarian concern and our wish to see a just and lasting peace for all communities.

It is not as though Miss Phillips was unaware of our position, having spoken at length to a member of our Middle East team. The reason given for her inquiry was, however, a completely different story, and at no time was the theme of anti-Semitism mentioned. In the event, not a word of what we did say appeared in The Spectator article. What remains is a baseless attack on the integrity of Christian Aid and others. This does nothing to further the cause of peace. Daleep Mukatji

Director, Christian Aid, London SE I