The Israeli Knesset has belatedly become aware of the huge amount of money that is flowing into Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from European governments and other sources with anti-Israel agendas. Prof. Gerald Steinberg of the organization “NGO Monitor” spoke at the Knesset yesterday, saying in part,
As Israeli citizens, we do not know how much money is involved – it is at least tens of millions of euros – or the names of all the organizations that receive these funds. In most cases, we are also not informed of European government funding behind rallies in support of one policy or in protest to another.
The same is true for academic conferences on human rights, occupation, or international law; large advertisements on the front page of a Friday newspaper (at the cost of tens of thousands of shekels); when the High Court pronounces on a case regarding the location of the separation barrier or security checks at the airport; submissions to the United Nations committees condemning Israeli responses to terror; and in many other crucial issues that affect our lives and the policies of our democratically elected government.
The nature and scale of this manipulation is unprecedented in relations between democratic countries – in no other case does one government (or groups of governments) use taxpayer money to support opposition groups in another democratic country. And there is no precedent for allowing these groups to use foreign government money to influence and manipulate the civil societies, political discourse, legal process and foreign policies.
Imagine the French response [to] an American government program that secretly gave one billion dollars to anti-abortion campaigners in Paris, or to promote human rights in Corsica. Or the Spanish response to funds from foreign governments that promote Basque issues.
Some of the organizations that receive this funding are simply — there’s no other way to describe them — enemies of the Jewish state. For example, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) worked closely with Human Rights Watch (HRW) to develop the medical ‘evidence’ for Israeli ‘war crimes’ that were supposedly ‘documented’ in a tendentious HRW report that I called a “blood libel”. This report was then used as one of the sources for the Goldstone Commission’s slanderous report, which may be used to prosecute Israelis for ‘war crimes’.
Where does PHR-I get its money? NGO Monitor reports that
Funders include the NDC (Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands: $125,000 in 2008-9), Diakonia (SEK 1.02 million in 2008-9, from the Swedish government), EU (722,000 NIS in 2007), NIF ($155,000, 2007), Oxfam (211,000 NIS, 2007), Christian Aid (151,000 NIS, 2007), and other foundations and church groups (2007 information from the Israeli Registry of Non-Profits).
The NIF is the New Israel Fund, a left-wing American charity which I’ve discussed here. The 1.02 million Swedish Kroner is about $148,000. There are numerous such NGOs. Steinberg continues,
Externally, officials who run these ostensible “civil society” organizations speak in United Nations sessions on human rights, as well as in churches and university campuses around the world, condemning Israel for racism, ethnic cleansing, genocide, discrimination, war crimes, and other such accusations.
Many lead the BDS campaigns – boycotts, divestment and sanctions – based on the Durban NGO Forum strategy of isolating Israel. The Alternative Information Center, which is funded by Sweden, among others, denounces cooperation between Israeli and the Palestinian Authority as “normalization.” In a June 2008 conference, co-founder Michael Warschawski asserted that “one has to unequivocally reject the very idea (and existence) of a Jewish state, whatever will be its borders.”
What possible excuse is there for the use of European taxpayer funds for this political warfare being waged against Israel? A very small group of Israelis are seen to give them legitimacy, but fail to add a warning – these views have almost no support within the Israeli civil society, and paid for by European governments.
The degree of imperialist chutzpah displayed by the Europeans is incredible. This is an assault on Israel’s sovereignty which must be stopped. It’s bad enough that international NGOs like HRW slander and propagandize against Israel, but these are NGOs based in Israel.
The unifying theme seems to be anti-Zionism:
Ir Amim, which receives 67% of its budget from foreign governments, advocates and campaigns for the Palestinian narrative on Jerusalem, and directs these campaigns at influencing non-Israeli journalists, diplomats and opinion makers. It produced a film series, Jerusalem Moments, that has been described as “an exercise in the bludgeoning documentation of Palestinian victimhood and of allegedly mindless Israeli cruelty and aggression,” and a “skewed misportrayal.”
Other NGOs have used European support to oppose the Jewish character of the State: Adalah’s 2007 “Democratic Constitution” – based on the vision of “a one-state solution” – attempts to limit immigration of Jews for “humanitarian reasons” only; Mada al-Carmel’s “Haifa Declaration,” which has the European Union logo on it, calls for a “change in the definition of the State of Israel from a Jewish state” and accuses Israel of “exploiting” the Holocaust “at the expense of the Palestinian people.”
And, the Coalition of Women for Peace operates the “Who Profits?” divestment website, a project that tracks Israeli and international corporations that allegedly “are directly involved in the occupation.” Who Profits? led the anti-Israel divestment campaign in Norway, and is involved with a similar project in the UK.
These organizations are engaged in psychological, political and legal sabotage. Their actions are different in kind but similar in intent to those of the Arab terrorists that infiltrate across borders in order to place explosives. The goal is the same, to damage and weaken the Jewish state so that some day it can be replaced by yet another Arab dictatorship.