• Denmark is a major international donor to the Palestinian Authority.
  • The Danish Foreign Ministry and Embassy have provided direct funds to Israeli NGOs with political agendas.
  • DanChurchAid channels funds from the Danish government to politicized NGOs in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A multi-donor secretariat run by the NGO Development Center (NDC - Ramallah) distributed $6 million of pooled funds from Denmark, Switzerland, Holland, and Sweden to 25 Israeli and Palestinian NGOs.
  • NDC is responsible for the “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct,” a document that demands its signatories reject “any normalization activities with the occupier, neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.”
  • Badil, an NGO funded by DCA and NDC, has referred to “Israel’s colonial apartheid regime,” “state-sponsored racism,” and “systematic ethnic cleansing.”
  • Overlap between sources of Danish funding allows NGOs to receive Danish taxpayer money through multiple channels.  Efficiency, accountability, and transparency should be required in the public-funding of NGOs.

Background: The Danish International Development Agency (Danida)
Denmark is one of the largest international donors to the Palestinians…In November 2007, the Danish Foreign Minister, Dr. Per Stig Moeller, pledged more than 120 million USD (589 million DKK) in support for Palestinians in 2008-10.”
– Representative Office of Denmark, Ramallah

Danish foreign aid and international development funds are distributed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Danish International Development Agency (Danida). According to Denmark’s official website, development assistance constitutes at least 0.8 percent of its GNP, making Denmark one of the world’s major aid donors. While Africa remains Denmark’s primary focus, “Gaza/West Bank”: received 51.5 million DKK in 2008 (approximately $10.3 million) – including 7.23 million DKK in project assistance and 4.25 million DKK in humanitarian assistance. Denmark is also “one of the largest donors to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In the last five years, Denmark has thus contributed more than 65 million USD to the regular budget and emergency appeals of UNRWA, including more than 14 million USD in 2007 alone.”[1]

Denmark’s stated goal in assistance to the PA is:

“[t]he strengthening of democracy, good governance and human rights in the oPt [2]. Therefore, Denmark actively supports a number of vital Palestinian institutions involved in this endeavour.”

Examples of “vital Palestinian institutions” which receive significant financial assistance from Denmark include the Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department, a quasi-governmental organization that promotes an anti-Israel political agenda, uses demonizing rhetoric such as “apartheid,” and denies the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state.

Denmark also directs funds through Danish NGOs, regarded as important partners of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that claim to focus on reducing poverty[3]. . These NGOs channel emergency humanitarian relief (p.4), as during the 2006 Lebanon War (p.7). In 2008, the total budget for Danish NGO development was 958.5 million DKK (≈$190 million).[4] Humanitarian assistance through NGOs was 478.2 million DKK (≈$95 million) (p.5).[5]

The four main frameworks for funding of highly politicized NGOs are the Danish Foreign Ministry, DanChurchAid (DCA), NDC (the multi-donor Secretariat), and Danish government funding via the European Union, including support for the Copenhagen-based EMHRN.  The following report will examine the available information (reflecting limited transparency from the Danish government) [6] on each of these frameworks.

Direct funding for NGOs via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
The Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the channels through which Danish government funds reach politicized NGOs. The ministry claims that the “overall aim of the regional assistance is to underpin the Middle East peace process by strengthening cooperation, confidence building and trans-national understanding in the region....” The Foreign Ministry’s Tel Aviv Embassy website is limited to 2006 grantees, including Bimkom, the Peres-Center for Peace, and the Parents Circle. Based on information from the Israeli Registry of Non-Profits, these groups continued to receive Danish funds in 2007. 

Bimkom – Ostensibly focusing on “the right to equality and social justice in matters of planning, development, and the allocation of land resources,” Bimkom regularly engages in political activity regarding topics completely unrelated to planning rights.  Bimkom has received Danish funding through the Foreign Ministry as well as through the NDC (see below). In 2006, Bimkom received 1,132,000 DKK from the Danish Foreign Ministry to conduct a “planning survey for a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem,” which would “be used as a model for other Palestinian neighbourhoods.”  As reflected in a July 2009 plan to “retroactively legalize illegal construction in Arab neighborhoods,” Bimkom’s work in this arena attempts to change Israeli government policy. [7]

Peres Center for Peace – The Peres Center for Peace was awarded 4,020,000 DKK from the Danish Foreign Ministry in 2006 for doctor and medical staff training that “is not otherwise provided to the Palestinians.” 

Parents Circle – Parents Circle was granted 600,000 DKK in 2006 for a project called “Building Trust and Hope,” which aimed to “introduce Palestinians and Israelis to the idea of reconciliation through meetings with a joint Israeli and Palestinian facilitator team.” While Parents Circle’s activities are generally unbiased, leaders use this platform to attack Israeli policies and sponsor anti-Israeli-policy events.

Danish Funding through DanChurchAid (DCA)
DanChurchAid (DCA), a major Danish humanitarian NGO “rooted in the Danish National Evangelical Lutheran Church,” aims to “assist the poorest of the poor” and is funded through private donations, foundations, Danida, the UN, the EU, and other bilateral donors.

In 2008, the Danish government provided 213.9 million DKK to DCA – a significant increase from the 176 million DKK provided in 2007. [8]

DCA works multilaterally – with close ties to the World Council of Churches (WCC) – as well as bilaterally with local churches, church councils and civil (“folkelige”) organizations (p.13).  The WCC, a major supporter and leader of the anti-Israel boycott and divestment campaign, is active in efforts to condemn Israel at the UN and funds the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI has demonstrated an anti-Israel agenda, especially in publications such as “40 Years of Occupation” with an article advocating illegal and inflammatory activities to “end the occupation” – including hacking government websites, commemorating “Naqba,” and recognizing the “right of return.” [9]

DCA’s international aid framework focuses on 13 areas, including Israel/Palestine (p.13), and DCA partners include local churches, development programs, advocacy groups, and some of the most politicized NGOs working in Israel and the Palestinian Authority such as Badil and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).

Badil – An April 2006 report, conducted by DanChurchAid and Trocaire and then published with permission by Badil, demonstrates DanChurchAid’s close identification with Badil, especially in recognition of the NGO’s role in promoting the “right of return.” The evaluators praise Badil’s “important role in the coordination and launching of the BDS campaign which seems to lack coordination at the national level” (p.9).  Indeed, Badil is a leading actor in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and has called for a “targeted campaign to expose the lies of AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League and to expose the Jewish and Zionist community’s double standards regarding Nakba & Occupation.” Badil has also referred to “Israel’s colonial apartheid regime,” “state-sponsored racism,” and “systematic ethnic cleansing,” and claims that “[i]nstitutionalized racism and discrimination” is the “root cause…of the ongoing internal forcible displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.” Badil receives Danish funding through both DanChurchAid and the NDC (see below).

B’Tselem – This NGO received $133,776 from DCA in 2007 (information received from the Israel Registry of Non-Profit Organizations).  In 2006 B’Tselem received 693,822 DKK from DanChurchAid, [10] and DanChurchAid remains on its donor list. B’Tselem “endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories.” However, B’Tselem focuses almost exclusively on alleged Israeli violations, eliminating the context of asymmetrical war, mass terror, and intra-Palestinian violence. B’Tselem was one of the first NGOs to promote the “collective punishment” and “Gaza remains occupied” allegations.  B’Tselem’s credibility, particularly regarding statistics on Palestinian casualties, has been repeatedly challenged by independent researchers on grounds of faulty methodology, inaccuracy, unverifiable sources and distortion of context. B’Tselem also has received Danish funding through the NDC and EIDHR (see below).

PCHRPCHR regularly refers to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians as “resistance.” PCHR is a leader in the “lawfare” strategy of exploiting the universal jurisdiction statutes in democratic countries in order to bring cases against Israeli political and military officials for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” PCHR alleged that almost 70% of all casualties in the Gaza War were civilian, an unsubstantiated claim that was repeated in the media and in the Goldstone report. PCHR’s figures have been independently disproven through credible research. In addition to DanChurchAid funding, PCHR receives Danish support through the NDC and EIDHR (see below).

DanChurchAid and BDS
In addition to supporting NGOs active in Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) – WCC, BADIL, PCHR and East Jerusalem YMCA – DCA has commented: “DanChurchAid does not believe boycott to be morally wrong, but it does not believe that a general boycott will be effective” (p.22).

Danish funding to political NGOs through the multi-donor secretariat – the NGO Development Center (NDC)
The concept of a multi-donor secretariat to provide funding to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs originated in 2005 with an agreement between Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.  Denmark negotiated on behalf of the donor countries to arrange management of the secretariat, which subsequently changed hands a number of times. Since July 2008, the NGO Development Center in Ramallah has been managing the grants on behalf of Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands (scheduled to end December 2009). The NDC distributed $6 million to 25 Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, many of which are among the most radical groups operating in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The selection of NDC to manage Denmark funding is surprising. Danish policy in the region calls for the promotion of “pluralistic societ[ies],” “tolerance,” and “cooperation.” Yet, NDC is responsible for facilitating and funding the “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct,” a document that rejects “any normalization activities with the occupier, neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels” (p.11).  The document also calls for the “return of the refugees to their original homes” – the effective end of Israel as a Jewish state.  These declarations are in direct conflict with above-stated Danish values regarding support for civil society. 

NDC recipients include Badil ($100,000), B’Tselem ($450,000), PCHR ($400,000), Bimkom ($150,000) – see above. Also PCATI ($240,000), Al Haq ($500,000) and Al Mezan ($500,000) – see below. NDC also funds other highly political NGOs, including ICAHD ($80,000), HaMoked ($500,000), and the Palestinian NGO Network  ($130,000).

Danish NGO funding through the European Union
Note: A detailed list of EU-funded Israeli and Palestinian NGOs can be found in NGO Monitor’s Europe’s Hidden Hand (April 2008).

Danish contributions to development cooperation within the European Union account for almost 15 percent of Denmark’s multilateral development assistance, or approximately 7 percent of Denmark’s total aid budget (section 6). Many local NGOs benefit from European Union funding through the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy (EIDHR), and thus, indirectly, from Danish funds. Moreover, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) receives 80 percent of its funding from the EU. EMHRN, based in Copenhagen, also receives direct funding from Denmark.

EMHRN encompasses over eighty NGOs, which claim to promote human rights. It receives an annual budget of approximately €1 million via EIDHR, under the general framework of supporting “democracy, good governance and rule of law.” EMHRN’s official mandate is to develop “synergies between regional and local human rights work, the human rights instruments of the Barcelona process as well as the wider Arab world.” EMHRN funds are allocated to conferences, research, and educational materials produced for its member NGOs. EMHRN assists these NGOs in influencing public opinion by providing them access to Europe’s policymaking community.

Other EMHRN activities include facilitating dialogue and assistance among its members and lobbying to advance the policy goals of affiliated NGOs. The EMHRN members from Israel and the PA consist exclusively of NGOs active in advancing Arab and Palestinian political goals. As shown in NGO Monitor’s detailed analyses, many of these NGOs are active in promoting the strategy of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) based on the final declaration of the NGO Forum at the 2001 Durban Conference. EMHRN reports often contribute to this process, advance specious Palestinian claims and erase the context of terror against Israel, thereby exacerbating the perception of the conflict in countries where EMHRN is widely received, especially across North Africa (Source: Europe’s Hidden Hand, pp. 23-25).

For instance, at the beginning of the Gaza conflict, EMHRN released a joint statement claiming that Israel had “directly targeted the civilian Palestinian population” and accused Israel of enacting “collective punishment.” EMHRN’s criticism of the EU largely regards the Gaza war, claiming that “[r]ather than a clear and firm condemnation [by the EU] of the intolerable situation caused by the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, this seems to be nothing more than a face-saving operation by the EU.”

EMHRN also provides a platform for and promotes the views of its partner NGOs, which include the following NGOs. Of these NGOs, Al Haq, Al Mezan, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), PCHR, and B’Tselem also received NDC grants.

Overlap between different frameworks for Danish NGO funding
Many NGOs received funds from different frameworks within the Danish government. This overlap raises questions of government oversight in funding processes. For genuine humanitarian projects, this phenomenon increases the bureaucratic overhead and waste that does not reach the organizations and individuals who need the aid.  Efficiency, accountability, and transparency should be required of all publically-funded NGOs.

NGO Direct Gov't DanChurchAid
NDC
EU
Bimkom 24,725 NIS (2007)*   $150,000 (2008-9)  
Peres Center for Peace 4,020,00 DKK(2006)     Partnerships for Peace
Badil   DCA Website $100,000 (2008-9)  
PCHR   DCA Website $400,000 (2008-9) EMHRN
B'Tselem   $133,776 (2007)* $450,000 (2008-9) EMHRN
PCATI     $240,000 (2008-9) EMHRN
Al Haq     $500,000 (2008-9) EMHRN
Al Mezan     $500,000 (2008-9) EMHRN

 

*Information from Israeli Registry of non-profit organizations.

Conclusion
The Danish Foreign Ministry – both directly and through its international development agency Danida – along with DanChurchAid, the NDC, and via EU frameworks, provides significant funding to some of the most politicized NGOs. Many of these groups use support from Denmark to oppose Israeli policies.

DanChurchAid, which receives tens of millions of dollars annually from the Danish government, supports and partners with active participants in the BDS campaign against Israel. NDC funds NGOs that distort international law and human rights rhetoric to condemn Israel. Such funding is inconsistent with Danish government policies and commitments to promoting peace and compromise, and frustrates the stated goals of “strengthening democracy, good governance and human rights.”

Endnotes
NGO Monitor sent an earlier version of this report to officials from the Danish Representative Office in Ramallah and DanChurchAid. While the Danish government did not respond, DanChurchAid did send comments (to read DanChurchAid’s letter, click here). To read NGO Monitor’s reply to DanChurchAid, click here.

[1] The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs carries out bilateral NGO assistance in the fields of development and humanitarian aid through Danish NGOs and relevant UN-organizations. Funds are also provided for direct governmental activities, such as sending out of personnel through the “Internationale Humanitaere Beredskab” (IHB - “International Humanitarian Emergency Unit”) and efforts made by “Beredskabsstyrelsen” (“Emergency Management”) and the Danish defense forces (Danidas NGO-Samarbejde 2008, page 5). NGOs also receive financial resources for specific projects beyond the NGO and humanitarian allocations, including the “Det Arabiske Initiativ” (“The Arab Initiative”), “Naboskabsprogrammet” (“The Neighborhood Program”), “rekvirerede opgaver,” as well as resources for activities that are financed through the “Oblysningsbevillingen” (“The Information Grant”).

[2] Like many NGOs and development agencies, the Danish government has adopted the politicized, not legal, term OPT – Occupied Palestinian Territory – to refer to this disputed area.

[3] See Danidas NGO-Samarbejde 2006

[4] This was 11.8% of Danish bilateral development assistance and 7.8% of the global Danish aid funding in 2008.

[5] This was 37.9% of the total humanitarian assistance and 3.9% of the total Danish assistance in 2008.

[6] The Danish government provided NGO Monitor with a comprehensive list of NGOs funded by Danida, through 2007. However, complete information on other Danish funding instruments for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs was not provided.

[7] In 2007 Bimkom received 24,725 NIS (≈$5,000) from the Danish Embassy (information received from the Israel Registry of Non-Profit Organizations).

[8] See Danidas NGO-Samarbejde 2008, Appendix 1. 114.314 million DKK for development assistance and 64.581 million DKK for humanitarian aid. 

[9] The WCC hosted the 2006 “global advocacy week concerning the situation in Palestine and Israel,” including “solidarity visits with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron,” a “settlement tour with ICAHD“ and an opportunity to “witnes[s] the destruction in Jenin Refugee Camp.”

[10] This information is based on a July 9, 2008 e-mail from a DanChurchAid official. However, in documents received from the Israeli Registry of Non-profit Organizations, B´Tselem reported only $115,783 in donations from DCA.