European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will make his first official visit to Israel on July 9. Among the issues for discussion is the intense controversy over large scale EU funding for highly politicized Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, and the absence of transparency regarding this funding.
“This is an opportune time for ending the blatant lack of transparency, in violation of the EU’s own principles, and for undertaking a detailed review, particularly for the NGO grants that end in June and July 2012,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “Rather than automatically renewing this funding, the EU should carefully consider the implications of policies which secretly provide millions of Euros from taxpayer funds to Israeli and Palestinian political NGOs. An independent examination of the EU’s funding for these NGOs, including analysis of the procedures and impacts, if any, is long overdue.”
In a letter to President Barroso, NGO Monitor including examples of counterproductive EU funding for political NGOs:
- The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), which received €169,661 from the EC (concluded June 2012), is a fringe political NGO that fuels conflict by frequently accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing.” ICAHD officials are also active in promoting BDS campaigns, particularly in churches in Europe and North America.
- There is also need for a fundamental review of a grant to Parents Circle Family Forum, which received €351,006 for its “Crack in the Wall” project (concluding July 2012). PCFF presents itself as an organization “Promot[ing] reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge.” For some Israelis, including families of terror attacks, however, PCFF is a highly controversial politicized organization that promotes the narrative of Israeli aggression and Palestinian victimhood, as well as an immoral equivalence between Palestinian terrorists and victims of terror attacks. In addition, according to Ha’aretz (“Peace activists are sick of talking about soccer,” April 25, 2012), the EU funded project was significantly changed due to “skepticism and disinterestedness on the Palestinian side.”
- EU funding for Adalah (€627,526, concluding July 2012) “Combating and Preventing Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Prisoners held in Israeli Prisons and Palestinian Civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)” was shared with political advocacy NGOs Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and Al-Mezan. (The EU website omits mention of the partner organizations.) This funding enabled publication of On Torture, a compilation of articles that advances the tendentious and unproved allegation that Israeli physicians are involved in torturing Palestinian prisoners, further contributing to demonization of Israel in human rights frameworks at the UN.