Want EU funding? Promote Palestinian positions

Israeli human rights groups are promoting Palestinian positions on the capital, says J'lem-based research organization.

ir amim 248.88 (photo credit: Screen shot)
ir amim 248.88
(photo credit: Screen shot)
Israeli human rights groups and other NGOs that are heavily funded by the European Union are promoting Palestinian positions on the capital, a Jerusalem-based research organization said on Tuesday. Several groups, including B'Tselem and Ir Amim, that are ostensibly devoted to further coexistence, are "pursuing an overtly anti-Israel agenda in a narrative war that seeks to rewrite 3,000 years of Jewish history in Jerusalem," NGO Monitor said. Both NGOs label Israeli residents of the Old City's Jewish Quarter as "settlers," as part of an overtly "political campaign," despite the presence of Jews in the area dating back to before the establishment of the state in 1948, and the West Bank security barrier is portrayed by B'Tselem as an attempt to annex land, while disregarding Israeli security concerns, the watchdog group said. The EU paid NIS 1.7 million of Ir Amin's NIS 4m. 2007 budget, NGO Monitor said. The British Embassy contributed an additional NIS 800,000, and the Norwegian government gave NIS 165,000. Similarly, the EU funded nearly 10 percent of B'Tselem's NIS 7.8m. budget in 2007 with its €120,000 (about NIS 675,000) contribution, again according to NGO Monitor. "The flow of European government funds, including from the EU, to political organizations such as B'Tselem and Ir Amim for use in the political war against Israel on the issue of Jerusalem is one of the most damaging aspects of European funding directed against Israel," said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor's executive director. "Similarly, these NGOs should not be abusing their moral claims on human rights and coexistence in order to support efforts to turn back the clock to the dark days of 1948-1967, when no Jews could live or even visit the Old City and the Jewish sacred sites," he said. B'Tselem on Tuesday denied that it had any political position on Jerusalem "or any other issue," and accused the NGO watchdog group of repeated "sloppy, irresponsible" reporting. "B'Tselem's only concern is that Israel respect its legal obligations and ensure the basic dignity of everyone living under its control," B'Tselem executive director Jessica Montell said. "Advancing equality and human rights in Jerusalem is a clear Israeli interest, and one that we all can support, regardless of our political views." In contrast, an Ir Amim official said the group was indeed seeking to advance a political agenda, and was not an organization geared to promote coexistence. "Without a doubt we have differing views on a range of issues, but this is the right of an NGO in a democratic state," said Haim Erlich, an Ir Amim official. "No one has ownership over the Israeli interest." The nearly 50% EU funding that the organization received in 2007 according to the NGO watchdog group was "within the framework of Israeli law," he said.