The Honorable José Manuel Barroso
President, European Commission
1049 Brussels, Belgium
Dear President Barroso,
We welcome you on the occasion of your first official visit to Israel, scheduled for July 9.
There are many issues on the agenda of Israeli-EU relations, including the controversy over large-scale EU funding for highly politicized Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, and the absence of transparency regarding funding decision making and evaluations.
This is an opportune time for this discussion, as a number of EU grants for these NGOs are ending in June and July 2012. We urge the EU to freeze any new funding to these organizations pending an independent and transparent review, including demonstrations of positive impacts, if any, as well as the overall activities and political agendas of the NGO grantees. The statements from EU officials claiming that funding is provided to individual projects, and that the wider activities of the NGO and its officials are irrelevant to decision making and evaluation, is unsupportable. When an official body, provides funds for any project to an organization, the donor, including the EU, assumes responsibility for all of the activities of that group.
In particular, we call your attention to the follow examples of EU funding for NGOs that are clearly inconsistent with EU policy statements:
1) Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) received €169,661 from the European Commission (concluded June 2012). ICAHD is a fringe political NGO that accuses Israel of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and creating a “model of terrorising a civilian population into fear of resistance, [which] combined with warehousing them after traumatisation, provides a laboratory for oppression and exploitation of a people which is marketable for export to powerful states.”
Jeff Halper, director of ICAHD, is a frequent speaker at Sabeel conferences that promote anti-Israel activities and rhetoric in Christian denominations worldwide.
In Sabeel’s March 2010 conference held at the First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo, Calif, headlined “A Time for Truth, A Time for Action,” in which 500 participants were exhorted to become active participants in the anti-Israel BDS campaign, Halper was a keynote speaker, urging that the “discussion” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be reframed through references to “colonial imperialism and apartheid politics.”
He is also listed as a speaker on a program in Albuquerque, New Mexico in September 2012 under the topic “From Two States to Apartheid to Warehousing: Where Do We Go From Here?”
2) Parents Circle Family Forum received €351,006 from the EU for the “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.
- The documentary film “Encounter Point” features Robi Damelin, an Israeli who lost her son, and Ali Abu Awwad, a Palestinian who lost his brother; both are leading personalities in PCFF. The film blames Israel as solely responsible for the conflict. When Damelin is asked how she felt after the Palestinian sniper who killed her son became a folk hero in the West Bank, she responds, “I’m not focusing on this, what I’m focusing on is: Why was David in the occupied territories? Why was David guarding settlers who said their safety was more important than David’s life?” Damelin also invokes the false comparison between Israel and South African Apartheid.
- According to media reports, the EU funded project was significantly changed due to “skepticism and disinterestedness on the Palestinian side.” The project, as presented for funding, was intended to “facilitate direct communication between Palestinians and Israelis,” with “discussions about entertainment, hobbies, day-to-day experiences and others.” However, reports indicate that these discussions focused exclusively on sensitive political issues. The media reports also stated that “a gala event of the Bereaved Families Forum was relocated from the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour to metropolitan Israel, after 220 out of 300 Palestinian participants pulled out.” Similarly, monthly dialogue sessions in Beit Jala “have become rare.”
3) Adalah received €627,526 from the EU, concluding July 2012) for a project labeled “Combating and Preventing Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Prisoners held in Israeli Prisons and Palestinian Civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)”. The EU website does not report the involvement of partner organizations and political advocacy NGOs --- Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and Al-Mezan.
- The three NGOs used EU funding to publish On Torture, a compilation of articles that advances the tendentious and unproved allegation that Israeli physicians are involved in torturing Palestinian prisoners.
- This project, and the EU funding, has also contributed to the demonization of Israel in human rights frameworks at the UN.
- Adalah published a 2007 “Democratic Constitution,” which calls for replacing the Jewish foundation of the state with a “democratic, bilingual and multicultural” framework. Jewish immigration would be permitted for “humanitarian reasons.”
I look forward to your response to these issues, and wish you a productive and pleasant visit to Israel.
Professor Gerald M. Steinberg
President, NGO Monitor
Table of EU Grants Ending in June and July 2012
||EU grant (€)
|Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
||Home Demolitions and the Law
||To ensure that the basic rights of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and Areas B and C of the OPT are met; To contribute to the cessation of punitive, military and administrative house demolitions in East Jerusalem and Areas B and C of the OPT.
||Crack in the Wall (project location in Israel – only)
||The project will capitalise on the lessons learned and successes of the peace-building endeavour, the "Hello-Shalom" project, the present action aims to develop an innovative technological platform (The Wall) which would engage significantly more individuals with far more accessible and convenient technological features. The project will engage as many individuals as possible in the platform in dialogue and exchange between Israelis and Palestinians and thus instilling messages and values of respect and understanding.
|Adalah (PHR-I and Al-Mezan are partners, but the EU website does not say so)
||Combating and Preventing Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Prisoners held in Israeli Prisons and Palestinian Civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)
||To contribute to the fight against impunity and to support the rule of law in Israel, to combat and prevent torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons and detention centers and Palestinian civilians in the OPT.
||The West Bank Human Rights Defenders Action
||The overall objective of this project is to protect human rights defenders in the West Bank, and bring about changes in Israel's policies to ensure respect for rights of protestors. The specific objectives are: To develop effective and common guidelines for addressing protests in the West Bank and Israel's responses to them within the context of domestic and international law; To improve Israel's injurious policies towards West Bank human rights defenders through advocacy and legal channels; To raise awareness of ongoing violations of the rights of human rights defenders in the Israeli and international media, legal, political and public arenas.
||Implementation of Justice for West Bank Palestinians employed by Israelis
||The overall objective of the project is to prevent Israeli employers from violating the human rights of Palestinian workers in the economic sphere. To force the Israeli government to protect workers living under territories occupied by Israel and to enforce international law and Israeli Supreme Court decisions.
|Women Against Violence
||Women and Employment Project (project location is Israel – only)
||Overall Objective: To promote the equal status of Palestinian women citizens of Israel by enhancing their access, materially, socially and politically to employment resources and opportunities. To create employment resources for Palestinian women citizens of Israel. To raise public awareness throughout Palestinian society that women's employment should not be conditional on any other obligations or terms; To encourage both Jewish and Palestinian citizen employers to pursue the hiring of Palestinian women as an active initiative; To advocate for more employment resources for Palestinian women on the part of the State; To advocate for an equal (representative) number of job openings for Palestinian women citizens in the public sector; To advocate for proactive government initiative to promote employment of Palestinian women.
|Arab Center For Alternative Planning
||Promoting Equality in Planning for the Arab Minority through Due Representation in State Planning Institutions
||Research and analyse existing institutional mechanisms (both legislative and administrative) related to planning procedures and processes on various levels in order to completely understand, identify, and address areas of discrimination against Arabs.
||Equality for Women in Israel: Adopting a Holistic Approach
||Mitigate discrimination against women within and out of the Israeli labour market, and reduce prejudices and stereotypes that violate the equality and dignity of women in society.
|Association Institut Pour La Cooperation En Mediterranee Groupe D Aix
||The Arab Peace Initiative and Israeli-Palestinian Peace: the political economy of a new period
||The project will explore the economic dimensions of the "Arab Peace Initiative" (API) on the relations between Israel, Palestine and the Arab countries. In this regard, an in-depth publication with broad analysis of the economic impact of implementing the API on the future economic relations between Israel, Palestine and the Arab countries will be produced and presented to key decision-makers and additional "agents of influence" (local and international) for them to understand the economic issues and possible scenarios when deciding on policy for the Middle East region. The project will also create public awareness on the tackled issue through a wide media coverage.