US Congress 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – Members of Congress received a report on Monday from NGO Monitor – a
watchdog group for nongovernmental organizations based in Jerusalem – that
highlights federal funding for some NGOs whose political activities may be
inconsistent with US foreign policy goals.
The report is meant to bring
the attention of congressional leaders to recent grants bestowed to Palestinian
organizations by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID, despite
what NGO Monitor believes are operations by these groups that undermine
democratic ideals and the peace process in the Middle East.
has been well received as constructive criticism by members of Congress, and has
prompted a flurry of meetings on Capitol Hill.
NED officials say they
plan on meeting with NGO Monitor representatives later this week to discuss
Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, says that US
government officials “have been very forthcoming, very willing to meet and very
eager to explain”– a contrast, he finds, to their European
“But major differences remain,” Steinberg
“When you fund projects, you fund salaries and websites and
infrastructure that aren’t in your control. And they rely on organizations for
what they call self-reporting.
They’re all political organizations –
they’re not going to tell you what they don’t want you to hear.”
which is funded through an act of US Congress, has provided one such
organization with nearly $180,000 between 2007 and 2012. The Palestinian
nonprofit, called MIFTAH, took heat this year for resurfacing a centuries-old
smear on its website that accuses Jews of using Christian blood to make Passover
Questioned on the report by the The Jerusalem Post
, the NED sent a
statement strongly defending its actions and questioning the quality of research
in the new report.
“The main thrust of the NGO Monitor report is that
some of the groups NED has supported to carry out democracy building activities
in the West Bank and Gaza have engaged in anti-Israel advocacy, and that the
Endowment has not properly monitored and evaluated the grants or reported on
them with sufficient transparency,” the statement reads. “The facts are
otherwise. Not a single project that NED has supported has included activity
that can reasonably be characterized as anti-Israel advocacy or incitement of
hatred against Israel.
“The report demonstrates a poor understanding of
NED’s rigorous grant making and monitoring practices,” it adds.