NGO Monitor slams funding of ‘+972’ blog

Shoah Foundation ends work with Israeli NGO that supports 'Nakba.'

newspaper laptop pencil 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
newspaper laptop pencil 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
BERLIN – The Jerusalem-based watchdog organization NGO Monitor sharply criticized a large German foundation on Wednesday for funding left-leaning online magazine +972 .
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, a German think-tank affiliated with the Green Party, provided 6,000 euros to the magazine, which uses Israel’s international calling code number as its title.
Professor Gerald Steinberg, head of NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post that “Heinrich Böll’s decision to support +972 fulfills no humanitarian purpose and does not foster peace and mutual understanding.”
He continued that Böll “cannot justify funding an online magazine that targets English speakers and routinely presents biased, one-sided perspectives on the Arab-Israeli conflict. This funding helps provide a platform used to demonize Israel. +972 reporters and bloggers, for example, invoke the hateful ‘apartheid’ analogy. Why is German taxpayer funding going to this counterproductive activity?”
+972 is a blog-based web magazine that is jointly owned by a group of Israeli journalists and bloggers, whose goal, they say is to “to provide fresh, original, on-the-ground reporting and analysis of events in Israel and Palestine.”
One contributor, Haggai Matar, wrote in +972 blog in January, “Dozens of Popular Committee activists gathered in Jericho for a ‘freedom ride’: an attempt to drive their cars to Ramallah on the fast lanes of the apartheid roads meant for Israelis only.”
Critics, including NGO Monitor, have argued that applying the term apartheid to Israel meets the criteria of modern anti-Semitism because it seeks to strip the Jewish state of its legitimacy.
When asked whether the Böll Foundation considers the comparison anti-Semitic, its spokeswoman Karoline Richter told the Post that Böll sees the apartheid application as part of “critical solidarity with Israel,” and the think tank does not want to censor +972.
Ralf Fücks, head of the Böll Foundation, wrote in a statement to the Post, “While the Heinrich Böll Foundation does not agree with each opinion expressed in individual contributions to the site, it has not and will not interfere in the content for its conviction for freedom of the press.”
“In this context, our grant to is part of a differentiated and pluralistic agenda we are following in Israel,” he added.
+972 did not immediately answer a Post query.
Steinberg said, “Contrary to Böll’s claims, +972 presents a one-sided, highly distorted view of the complex Arab- Israeli conflict. Such interference in the internal affairs of another sovereign state is a blatant violation of democratic norms.”
Meanwhile, the German Shoah Foundation EVZ cut its financial support for Zochrot, an Israeli NGO that supports nakba. The Palestinians use the word nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) to reject Israel’s existence and to commemorate an estimated 700,000 Palestinians who fled during the 1948 War of Independence.
Steinberg said, “This is a significant victory in the battle to hold funders accountable for their support of NGOs involved in demonization. Zochrot, a radical Israeli NGO, supports the Palestinian claim to a ‘Right of Return’ – which has no legal basis and would end the existence of Israel as the Jewish nation-state – endorsed the violent ‘Free Gaza Flotilla,’ and falsely accused Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘forcible displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.’”
In an e-mail to the Post on Wednesday, Eugen Esau, a spokesman for EVZ, wrote that “the support for the projects from Zochrot contractually ended on December 31, 2011.”