Avaaz, or the Avaaz Foundation, is a global “e-advocacy” nonprofit organization whose chief function is to promote leftwing political agendas through Web-based movement-building and campaigns. Its mission is to "organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want." Its primary methods of activism are: mass e-mailings, online petitions, videos, "write-your-leader" campaigns, and targeted citizen organizing. The global counterpart of the George Soros-funded MoveOn, Avaaz also seeks to influence elections directly, particularly in Canada, and is a registered a non-profit lobbying organization in the state of Delaware.
Avaaz (a word that means "voice" in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages) was co-founded by Res Publica and MoveOn, with support also from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Res Publica claims to have gotten the Avaaz project off the ground as early as 2006. The main individuals involved in the formation of Avaaz were:
Ricken Patel: A Canadian, Patel is both the executive director of Res Publica and president/executive director of Avaaz
Eli Pariser: The executive director of MoveOn, Pariser is Avaaz’s board chairman and also serves on the advisory board of Res Publica.
Tom Perriello: This former U.S. congressman from Virginia co-founded Res Publica and has been a longtime advocacy partner with Ricken Patel.
Administered out of Res Publica's headquarters in New York City, Avaaz operates in 14 languages and, as of July 2011, claimed to have more than 9.65 million “members” in 193 countries. An individual can become an Avaaz member simply by submitting a verified email address to the organization. In 2008, Avaaz spent $1,067,848 on global campaigns in such far-flung regions as Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, North America, and South America. Since at least 2007, its major campaign issues have included the following:
Burma Relief: Following the 2008 Burma cyclone disaster, Avaaz directed hundreds of thousands of dollars for relief efforts in the region, including a grant to the Open Society Institute which was earmarked for that purpose.
Canadian elections: In 2008, Avaaz spent $137,724 to support environmentalist political candidates in Canada against their Conservative Party rivals, one of whom was Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The strategy was to “target 3 of Harper’s top MPs.” Avaaz has since been registered as a third party in Canada.
In addition, Avaaz launched a vigorous campaign against the proposed establishment of a Canadian television station called Sun TV, which Avaaz claimed would become “Fox News North”; Avaaz accused the Canadian Harper government of conspiring with media mogul Rupert Murdoch to create a Conservative Party propaganda outlet that would bring “American-style hate media” to Canada.
Israel and the Middle East: In a “peace video” arguing in favor of a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Arab conflict, Avaaz portrayed Israel generally, and Jews specifically, as malevolent, militaristic occupiers guilty of forcing Palestinians to live in apartheid-like conditions where their human and civil rights were routinely violated.
Avaaz contends that the Arab-Israeli conflict is “at the heart of” the underlying rage that inspires Islamic violence against non-Muslims around the world. As part of its “Stop the Clash” campaign, Avaaz and Agit-Pop Communications collaborated to produce the video “Stop the Clash of Civilizations,” which won a 2007 YouTube Award for political videos and was seen by millions of people.
In another ad and petition, Avaaz claimed that one of the motives for Arab violence against Jews is the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, which alegedly prevents “fuel, food, and medicines” from entering the region. Moreover, the Avaaz petition called on Israel to negotiate for peace with the terrorist organization Hamas, which currently occupies the seat of governmental power in Gaza.
Avaaz is funded in large part by its members' support. ABC News reports, however, that the organization also receives financial backing from George Soros, MoveOn.org, and the SEIU. In addition, Avaaz has received funding from Res Publica, which is bankrolled, in part, by the Open Society Institute.
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