Promoting peace or raising tensions?

By funding some of the worst NGO promoters of demonization and conflict in the region, the EU is in direct violation of its own principles.

anti semitic gaza poster 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
anti semitic gaza poster 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The first official visit by Baroness Catherine Ashton, who recentlytook over as the European Union’s equivalent of a Foreign Minister, islikely to add more anxiety to Israel’s already stressed-out bodypolitic. Following Vice President Biden’s headline-making trip, Ashtonis expected to plant the EU’s flag, again, squarely in the middle ofthe peace process, by attacking Israeli policy.
Ashton’s recent statements reflect the European emphasis onsettlements, without gaining any concessions from the Palestinians.Coming a few days after the flap over Israel’s policy on Jerusalemconstruction that dominated Biden’s visit, this issue will no doubt beanother top priority for the EU delegation. Ashton has even suggestedtrade sanctions against Israel as a means of increasing the pressure.
At the same time, Israel has its own list of issues with Europe. Morethan the US, Europe generally needs to be reminded of continuedPalestinian violence, incitement, the potential for another war withHamas in Gaza and the threats Israel faces from the wider region,including Iran.
The Israeli agenda should also include the role of European governmentfunding for radical non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Israelimedia has recently focused on the New Israel Fund’s support for 20 ofthe most politicized groups leading the political warfare. But the EUand its member states grant even greater amounts to almost all thesegroups, affording them tremendous power and impact.
The EU also funds many radical Palestinian NGOs that are centralplayers in the demonization, delegitimization and double-standardsemployed against Israel. This strategy was codified by 1,500 NGOs atthe 2001 UN Conference against Racism, held in Durban. Their statedgoal is “the complete isolation of Israel” internationally – throughBDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) and lawfare. The EuropeanParliament’s disturbing endorsement of the biased Goldstone Report,which falsely accuses Israel of war crimes in Gaza, is a reflection ofthis strategy.
ADALAH IS one of the more egregious examples of an EU-funded NGO thatgoes beyond civil rights claims to promote demonization. This group,which was referenced 36 times in the Goldstone Report, will be therecipient of over  € 600,000 between 2009 and 2012, and similar amountsfrom a number of individual European governments. Among its activities,Adalah published a proposed constitution for Israel that wouldrecognize Palestinian claims to a “right of return” – a euphemism forthe attempt to destroy Israel demographically. This document alsodeclares that Israel should cease to be Jewish in character, and thatimmigration of Jews should be dramatically restricted.
Another disturbing example is Mada Al-Carmel. This NGO, which receivedNIS 356,356 in 2008 from the EU, helped compose the Haifa Declaration,a document that calls for an end to Israel as a Jewish state, andaccuses Israel of “exploiting” the Holocaust.
The declaration makes the absurd claim that “Israel carried outpolicies of subjugation and oppression in excess of those of theapartheid regime in South Africa.”
Mada al-Carmel was one of the partner organizations behind the “MyLand, Space, Body and Sexuality: Palestinians in the Shadow of theWall” campaign, featuring a poster that suggested sexual contact
between a Palestinian woman and an Israeli soldier, alongside thecaption: “Her husband needs a permit to touch her. The occupationpenetrates her life everyday!”
This crude political warfare should not receive the assistance of European governments.
THE ISRAELI Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) is now fundedvia the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR),after receiving support from the EU’s Partnerships for Peace Programfor many years. ICAHD has issued statements accusing Israel of being an“apartheid” state, and of engaging in “ethnic cleansing” and “bloodyand sadistic actions.”
Citing ICAHD, the Goldstone Report made the tendentious claim that thewar in Gaza was Israel’s attempt at “getting rid of Gaza in order toconsolidate its permanent hold on the West Bank.”
For all of these reasons, the funding raises serious questionsconcerning the highly secretive decision making process by which the EUawards NGO grants. Indeed, this issue is central to NGO Monitor’sJanuary 2010 lawsuit against the European Commission, based on theviolation of its own transparency regulations. In keeping this processsecret, the EU is indicating that public revelation of thedecision-making details would be embarrassing.
If the EU wants to promote peace in the region, Ashton and otherofficials urgently need to address these issues. In a recent statement,Europe’s new head of foreign policy asked to play a “more credible” role in the region. This will require implementation of thestated principles of the EU, based on the “support for [NGO]initiatives that promote peace, tolerance and non-violence in the Middle East.”
The long-standing EU funding for some of the worst NGO promoters ofdemonization and conflict is entirely inconsistent with theseprinciples.
The writer is a researcher at NGO Monitor.