January 27: Look outward

In the same period 90 grants for democracy and human rights projects were provided to fund projects submitted by Israeli civil society organizations.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Look outward
Sir, – With regard to “Netanyahu, Lapid begin effort to form coalition” (January 24), last week’s general election was the first in recent memory that was decided by a middle-class electorate whose primary concern is quality of life and economic policies. This, while Iran continues to develop long-range atomic weaponry and generously shares its shorter-range conventional stockpile with Hezbollah to our north and Hamas to our south, and while a daily terrorist threat continues to challenge our security forces throughout Judea and Samaria.
The election’s outcome has possibly compromised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s ability to implement the security measures that are necessary to continue to protect our country on all fronts, successful measures that seem to have engendered the illusion of safety and allow us to focus our concerns on domestic matters.
I hope for Israel’s sake that this is not the case.
Opening the window
Sir, – Yitzhak Santis (“Opening the door on EU funding,” Comment & Features, January 23) throws out a number of unsubstantiated statements that need correcting.
He writes: “A central element of EU foreign policy is its funding of NGOs in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza....” Santis insinuates that this funding specifically targets Israel.
In fact, the EU supports human rights and peace projects all over the world. He fails to explain why human rights projects may be funded by the EU in the US, Russia or India, or why peace projects may be supported in Northern Ireland and Cyprus (itself an EU member), but not in Israel or the West Bank.
Santis also claims that since 2001 his organization has “documented the transfer of over one hundred million euros from the EU and various European governments to scores of NGOs carrying out the Durban Strategy.”
First, I would like to stress that EU funding has no connection whatsoever with the so-called Durban Strategy, and I would like to protest this implied linkage.
Second, in the 12-year period (1999-2011) under the EU Partnership for Peace Program, 158 grants were provided to projects implemented by Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and European organizations. The total budget for 1999-2011 was approximately ¤61 million.
In the same period 90 grants for democracy and human rights projects were provided to fund projects submitted by Israeli civil society organizations, with a total budget of just over ¤17 million. Hence, in total, EU funding under these programs over this period (which includes grants to non-Israeli organizations under Partnership for Peace) amounted to ¤78 million for 236 projects, the overwhelming majority of which do not appear on NGO Monitor’s black list.
How “scores” of projects could add up to 100 million euros in a similar period therefore remains a mystery. And later, “over one hundred million” becomes “hundreds of millions of euros in taxpayer funds [that are] are secretly disbursed.”
For the benefit of Santis and anyone else, this “secret” information is readily available on the “List of Projects” page on the website of the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel. For every project funded by the EU, the list gives the name of the project; the name of the implementing organization; the size of the grant and its proportion compared to the total budget of the project; a description of the project; and the precise duration of the project.
ANDREW STANDLEY Ramat Gan The writer heads the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel
Sir, – Yitzhak Santis cites the Israel Committee against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) as “a radical Israeli NGO that promotes a ‘one-state’ solution.” He names it as an example of “scores of NGOs carrying out the Durban Strategy.”
This is unjust. The Durban Strategy is to delegitimize, demonize and isolate Israel.
ICAHD is not in this category. It is trying to stop the Israeli government from carrying out cruel and inhuman punishment.
In a democratic state people and groups are allowed to oppose their government’s policies within legal limits. Even though ICAHD’s exposure of home demolitions is painful to our feelings and makes our government look bad, the exposure is legitimate and legal.
ICAHD should not be classed with the virulent so-called Durban strategists who want to wipe the State of Israel off the map.
Hazards ahead
Sir, – Islam has increasingly entrenched itself in Europe’s strategic nerve centers, aiming to impose religious social and political rules on passive, submissive, politically correct citizens, intimidating and insulting those who do not adhere to its values (“Muslim ‘modesty patrol’ stalking streets of London,” January 22).
Where is the outrage or, at the very least, an effective backlash emanating from proudly British Londoners, whose sheer effrontery and exuberance so impressed me back in the 1960s? The dhimmi policies of submission, humiliation, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, together with appeasement and conciliatory governance shown by Western politicians and their socalled intellectual elites within the media, are a forewarning of hazardous times ahead.
Far from home
Sir, – In “Palestinian study: Allow population of Gaza Strip to expand into Sinai” (January 22), Khaled Abu Toameh quotes Egyptian columnist Ahmad Naguid Roushdy as saying: “The Egyptian government should force any Palestinians in Sinai now to return to where they came from.”
The vast majority of the nonrefugee population of the current Gaza Strip, and also of the refugee population from the coastal area as far north as Ashkelon and Ashdod, are descendents of Egyptian peasants from the Nile Delta who were settled there by Ibrahim Pasha in the 1830s in what had previously been a very sparsely populated area. Common Palestinian surnames such as Masri (Egyptian) or Hindi (Indian) are perhaps the clearest indicator of their non-indigenous origin.
Given this history, the implications of the Egyptians’ reaction might be exactly the opposite of their real intent.
Svoboda’s claims
Sir, – With regard to “Ukrainian far-Right party attempting to lose anti-Semitic image” (January 21), contrary to Yuri Syrotyuk’s statement that there have “never been any anti- Semitic calls or actions by Svoboda,” party leader Oleg Tyahnybok and other Svoboda members have made anti- Semitic remarks on many occasions.
Svoboda members have called Jews an enemy of the Ukrainian nation, opposed the annual pilgrimage of Breslov Hassids to the grave of Rabbi Nachman in Uman, and called for a commemoration of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which fought alongside the Nazis. Several members of Svoboda have been linked to violent anti- Semitic attacks.
While Syrotyuk claims that the word “zhyd” has “never had a negative or offensive connotation,” the term is considered offensive by Ukrainian Jews. The use of this derogatory, racist term is unacceptable.
Until Svoboda’s members demonstrate their commitment to tolerance and a pluralistic society, NCSJ, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, will continue to insist that Ukrainian authorities and the political opposition denounce and distance themselves from Svoboda.
MARK B. LEVIN Washington, DC The writer is executive director of NCSJ