- The EU claims to fund projects that advance human rights, peace, tolerance, and confidence building measures, but, as NGO Monitor research demonstrates, the activities of many NGO grantees are inconsistent with these goals.
- It is a gross misrepresentation that the EU-Israel Association Agreement provides the mandate and justification for funding Israeli opposition groups, including B’Tselem, Ir Amim, and Breaking the Silence.
- Contrary to EU claims that its decision making is transparent and open, the selection process and the criteria that are employed by the anonymous evaluators are entirely hidden. The EU refuses to release information necessary to illuminate the factors that would explain why some projects receive EU funding, while many others are rejected.
- Although the EU claims to fund projects and not organizations, project funding inevitably is used to promote the overall organization and its activities. In several cases, EU funding comprises 50, 60, or even 75% of an NGO recipient’s entire budget.
- Many recipients also use the EU symbol on their publications to bolster their legitimacy, even if the publication itself was not a part of the EU-funded project.
- The EU funding process for NGOs demonstrates the overwhelming political bias for left- (and far left-) wing organizations. While proposals from all sectors may be welcomed, the outcomes are entirely one-sided.
- While the EU now provides the lists of grant recipients under the PfP and EIDHR programs, much information remains hidden, including the amount of funding that primary recipients transfer to NGO partners.
- The EU provided NGO Monitor with a CD of about 50 documents, from which most of the relevant information was deleted, including the names of NGO partner organizations and the evaluation criteria. It was impossible to decipher the few fragments and numbers that remained.
On November 18, the European Commission office in Tel Aviv responded to questions on its NGO funding policies to the Israeli newspaper, Makor Rishon. The following is a detailed analysis of the EC’s claims.
1. Claim: The EU-Israel Association Agreement provides the mandate and justification for funding Israeli opposition groups that claim to promote human rights, such as B’Tselem, Ir Amim, and Shovrim Shtika.
Response: To claim the EU-Israel Association Agreement mandates funding for political NGOs is a gross misrepresentation of this treaty. The Agreement, between the governments of the EU Member States and Israel, is clearly intended to foster economic cooperation and political dialogue between the parties on a symmetrical basis. The agreement regulates such matters as free movement of capital and goods, tariffs, and intellectual property. The section on “political dialogue” (Article 5) refers solely to communications between officials of the parties. Nothing in this agreement would appear to provide for the funding of opposition groups under a rubric of “human rights”. Moreover, doing so without consultation with the Israeli government could be interpreted as a violation of this agreement.
2. Claim: The EU claims its NGO funding mechanisms, such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and the Partnership for Peace Programme (PfP) are designed to promote human rights, peace, tolerance, confidence building measures, as well as fostering practical activities that promote communication and understanding
Response: The EC has failed to provide evaluations demonstrating that these goals are furthered by such NGO funding programs. In contrast, NGO Monitor’s research demonstrates that many of the recipients of these EC funds actually work against the goals claimed to be supported by the EU. For example, the Ir Amim film series Jerusalem Moments was described by the editor of the Jerusalem Post as an “exercise in the bludgeoning documentation of Palestinian victimhood and of allegedly mindless Israeli cruelty and aggression.” Similarly, a 2006 PfP grant "From Crisis to Opportunity – Inclusive Approaches to the Arab-Israeli Conflict," provides funds to Conflicts Forum, an NGO which encourages and engages in "encounters with political Islam - with both non-violent and armed resistance groups," including Hamas and Hezbollah. The increased terror and hatred from both groups clearly shows that such encounters funded by the EC are counterproductive to the stated goals.
3. Claim: The EU does not support organizations but rather specific projects.
Response: This claim makes a distinction without a difference, as project funding inevitably is used to promote the overall organization and its activities, including the significant costs of writing more grant applications. In several cases, EU funding comprises 50, 60, or even 75% of an NGO recipient’s entire budget. Many recipients also use the EU symbol on their publications to bolster their legitimacy, even if the publication itself was not a part of the EU-funded project. And because money is fungible, EU funding ostensibly allocated to specific projects also supports the NGO’s infrastructure including funding for staff, equipment, office space, publicity for the organization and its campaigns, and allows officials of these NGOs to travel and promote their agendas around the world. EU funding for projects therefore also supports the political activities and campaigns of the NGOs, including boycotts and the rejection of normalization.
4. Claim: The EU has open and transparent calls for proposals.
Response: While the calls for proposals are open, the actual selection process and the criteria that are employed by the anonymous evaluators are entirely hidden. The EU refuses to release information necessary to illuminate the factors that would explain why some projects receive EU funding, while many others are rejected.
5. Claim: The EU does not favor NGOs from the left (or far left) of the political spectrum and welcomes proposals from every sector of Israeli society.
Response: In fact, the results of the EU funding process for NGOs speak for themselves, and demonstrate the overwhelming political bias. While proposals from all sectors may be welcomed, the outcomes are entirely one-sided.
6. Claim: EU projects are selected on the basis of relevance, effectiveness and sustainability of the project and the financial and operational capacity of the applicant is closely examined.
Response: This claim is impossible to evaluate as the EU refuses to provide any relevant information on the selection process, or on periodic reviews of the projects, if any.
7. Claim: Details of support for projects funded under EIDHR and PfP are clearly displayed in the Cooperation and Funding section of the EU’s Israel Delegation website.
Response: Following earlier NGO Monitor reports on the lack of EU transparency regarding NGO funding, the lists of recipients under PfP and EIDHR are now made available. However, there is no uniform or central data source for NGO funding provided by other EC frameworks, such as ECHO, or via different mechanisms. And when some information is made available, entirely different systems are issued, making comparison and analysis, including overlapping grants to the same organizations, particularly difficult. Moreover, the names of NGO partners that receive funds from a primary recipient under an EC program, as well as evaluation processes, if any, are secret.
8. Claim: The EU has complied with a large proportion of NGO Monitor’s request for documents and some of these requests were rejected for the protection of public security and the protection of privacy.
Response: The EU provided NGO Monitor with a CD of about 50 documents, from which most of the relevant information has been deleted, including the names of NGO partner organizations and the evaluation criteria. It was impossible to decipher the few fragments and numbers that remained. [Example of document provided on the CD, another example]
Moreover, claims that documents could not be disclosed on a general assertion of “public security” or “privacy” are disingenuous justifications for a lack of transparency. The organizations that apply for and receive this funding are public civil society entities and the funds involved come from European taxpayers.