NGO Monitor urges Germany to halt antisemitic aid arm in Gaza, West Bank

Screenshots of the alleged Corporation for International Cooperation employee antisemitism can be viewed on the NGO Monitor website.

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March 31, 2018 21:25
4 minute read.
NGO Monitor urges Germany to halt antisemitic aid arm in Gaza, West Bank

Mohammed Al Mutawakel’s Facebook post from May 31, 2010. (photo credit: NGO MONITOR)

The Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor called on the German government on Friday to immediately halt the activities and funding of its Corporation for International Cooperation operating in Jordan, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Federal Republic because of widespread antisemitism spread by employees of the humanitarian relief organization.

The deepening scandal – first reported by The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday – that has engulfed the German Corporation for International Cooperation prompted a flurry of responses from the Merkel government and corporation officials, promising an investigation into the alleged antisemitic Facebook posts by corporation workers.

NGO Monitor’s president, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, told the Post that “self-reporting and internal investigation by powerful institutions are entirely ineffective and inconsistent with good governance. This is particularly the case for government offices that move large budgets in sensitive areas, such as GIZ [the German Corporation for International Cooperation]. The officials in Berlin, Amman, the West Bank and Gaza who tolerated or were blind to examples of gross antisemitism cannot credibly make sure that this behavior stops completely. Only an independent and public investigation has credibility. Until then and the implementation of new procedures to ensure that German taxpayer funds do not go for hate, all GIZ funding and activities in the region must be suspended.”

Steinberg added that “other branches of the German and other governments that fund aid and NGOs would be well advised to undertake independent investigations as well.”

When asked on Thursday about the allegations of antisemitism at the Corporation for International Cooperation, corporation spokeswoman Katja Hans said she would answer the queries by email.

In an email response to the Post on Thursday, the corporation wrote, “As a federal company it is clear: We do not tolerate antisemitism. We take the allegations that are currently against us very seriously. We are currently investigating each individual case and holding a meeting with each of the employees. Disciplinary action is also being considered, depending on the specific case. We do not tolerate antisemitic comments; this is a breach of our Code of Conduct. This also applies to comments made privately if there is any connection to GIZ.”

The statement added, “At all offices, including the country offices in Palestine and Jordan, regular discussions take place to raise awareness among employees and to assert the fact that we do not have a political mandate and therefore do not make political statements. GIZ is a service provider acting on behalf of the German government. This specific feature means that our employees are required to refrain from making political statements, including on social media.”

A FORMER German employee turned whistle-blower of the corporation told the Post her contract was not extended because she had written a pro-Israel comment on Facebook.

After the Post reported on her termination for objecting to a campaign waged by German Corporation for International Cooperation employees to stoke hatred against Jews and Israel, she told Channel 2 that the problem of antisemitism at the corporation “isn’t a small problem with interns or junior employees. It comes from the very highest level.”

She told the Post that Rudolf Rogg, who oversees Middle East department for the corporation, has “three Facebook accounts with anti-Israeli agitation.”

The former employee expressed deep skepticism that a Corporation for International Cooperation inquiry will lead to change in a workplace culture permeated with vile antisemitism.

Rogg urged the EU and the UN to “end Israeli collective punishment,” and claimed the EU- and US-designated terrorist organization Hamas was not responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in 2014. The Post sought an interview with Rogg. The corporation and Rogg declined to respond to Post queries.

Screenshots of the alleged Corporation for International Cooperation employee antisemitism can be viewed on the NGO Monitor website. Mohammed al-Mutawakel, who is currently a project manager at the corporation’s headquarters in Bonn and was previously a project manager in Jordan, compared Israel to the Hitler movement. He posted an Israeli flag on Facebook and replaced the Star of David with a swastika. “I hate Israel,” he wrote.

Ulrich Nitschke, a senior corporation employee in the Middle East, celebrated, according to NGO Monitor, the nomination of the BDS movement for the Nobel Peace Prize.

According to NGO Monitor, Tobias Thiel, who heads the corporation’s Strengthening Reform Initiatives project, shared articles claiming that Israel committed a “deliberate massacre” in the Gaza Strip, and that Israel does not have the right to defend itself.

The German government rejects the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party platform says: “Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called [under the Third Reich] to not buy from Jews. That is nothing other than coarse antisemitism.”

The German Corporation for International Cooperation states on its website that it employs a staff of 145 in the Palestinian territories.

According to German media, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development provides the most funds to the corporation. The ministry provided €111.7 million for the corporation’s operation in Jordan in 2017.

A ministry representative wrote the Post by email on Thursday that the “German government rejects every form of antisemitism.” The ministry added that we do not tolerate antisemitic statements from its employees.

When asked why Corporation for International Cooperation employees are permitted to post anti-Israel, allegedly antisemitic statements on Facebook and an employee was fired because she defended Israel, the head of the corporation’s Jordan office in Amman, Michaela Baur, declined to answer.


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