Imam Zaid, in his last clarification, encouraged Muslims to work towards eradicating malaria, and recommends that "this is an issue that should transcend politics."
Unfortunately, the reality is that we live in a political world, and I think it would be very naive to think that we can just ignore how some charities work, and the kind of political individuals who are involved in such organizations.
There is a notion that we can just ignore the war crimes (or minimize the crimes by calling them "politics") of Bush/Blair and their ilk, and work with them on single issues, such as "malaria." I think that is plainly absurd - how can one work with people who are complicit in the killing of hundreds of thousands, upwards of a million, with one hand, while pretending to "do good" with the other? Perhaps we need to be reminded:
And when they are told, "Do not spread corruption on earth," they answer, "We are the ones who put things right!" (Qur’an 2:11)
Malaria No More's board of directors is a study in charity politics, composed of individuals with high powered resumes - not a single one appears to have any prior direct experience with the issue (malaria) (The science and health advisory board (four individuals) does appear to have some who might be familiar with the issues):
Four or five of those on the board of directors, are members of the notorious pro-empire, Council on Foreign Relations.
Two members especially stand out:
John Bridgeland, the vice chairman: co-directed the policy transition for the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition team and was Deputy Policy Director for the Bush-Cheney 2000 Presidential campaign.
Ann M. Veneman (Executive Director, UNICEF)
"The notion that Veneman would be placed in a position to decide how to feed and care for the planet's most destitute children is every bit as alarming as the notion that Wolfowitz would be charged with providing aid to developing countries."
"Indeed, as Ravi Narayan, coordinator for the global secretariat of the People's Health Movement, wrote in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the members of the executive board of UNICEF: 'Ms. Veneman's training and experience as a corporate lawyer for agribusiness do not qualify her for the substantial task of leading the agency most responsible for the rights of children worldwide. There is no evidence in her tenure as U.S. secretary of agriculture, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, or deputy undersecretary for international affairs of the USDA of her interest in the world's children or their health and well-being.
The CEO is especially interesting, he is the founder of "priceline.com" - now, that might be a more or less business venture - but how exactly does that transfer over to malaria?
Well their website answers that question - and should serve as a red flag to anyone seriously interested in working to improve health care conditions - malaria, or otherwise:
Malaria No More is not a typical global health organization. We aren't strictly a funding body, or a grassroots movement, or an advocacy shop, or an on-the-ground implementer. Rather, we are a uniquely entrepreneurial organization with elements of each. What unites these disparate activities is leverage.
Lets go ahead and give 'em the benefit of the doubt --- but why would Muslims want to affiliate ourselves with a group that debuts with a Bush event?
On December 14, 2006, the President and the First Lady hosted a White House Summit on Malaria.
Attendees included representatives of the U.S. government, including key leaders from the President's Malaria Initiative/U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department, the National Security Council.
And lets briefly compare this group with the highly respected and effective public health organization, Doctors Without Borders. You'll find that half of the members of their Board of Directors are Medical Doctors, and their advisory board are mostly made up of community based individuals (who understand the need and how to effectively respond) - Not high flying political/big business individuals (who have zip connection with the issues, and no way have the know how to respond effectively). Click here for an article on Doctors Without Borders's work on malaria.
Perhaps Malaria No More has made some difference, fine and well ---- but puleeze, lets not delude ourselves that they are beyond, or transcending politics. Muslims very much need to evaluate the politics of groups that approach us (especially important for those of us in leadership capacity) - otherwise, we may well find ourselves in cahoots with some of the worst war criminals.
And then we'll only have ourselves to blame.