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Late last year, the European Court of Justice ruled against a petition NGO Monitor filed to challenge the European Union’s lack of transparency regarding major funding for non-governmental organizations spearheading the delegitimization of Israel. The court affirmed our factual claims regarding the EU’s refusal to provide the documents under the EU’s Freedom of Information statutes. Nonetheless, the court permitted the EU to continue hiding its NGO funding procedures.
Eleven years earlier, in September 2001, only days before 9/11, the UN held its World Conference on Racism in Durban. A major component of the conference was its virulent NGO Forum, where some 1,500 NGOs embraced a declaration calling on the “international community to impose a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel.”
This declaration of political war – what we dubbed the “Durban Strategy” – seeks to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish peoples’ right to sovereign equality.
Five months later in February 2002, I covered the first national student conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement at the University of California at Berkeley.
What I witnessed was a local repetition of the Durban NGO Forum.
By then terrorists had already killed hundreds of Israelis, mainly civilians, in the “al Aksa” intifada. The 250 radical student activists from across the US who gathered in Berkeley opted to support the intifada’s carnage. True to the Durban Strategy, they used the language of “peace” and “human rights” to support violence and war crimes. They declared their “solidarity with the popular Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid.” They also resolved to launch a national campus-based anti-Israel divestment campaign.
At the time, I wrote in the Bay Area’s Jewish newspaper that conference organizers “were not seeking peace with Israel, but rather ‘peace’ without any Israel.” I predicted that this “divestment movement, whose aim is to delegitimize, demonize and dehumanize the State of Israel, will make its presence known on college campuses nationally... Jewish and non-Jewish students alike will be challenged in their thinking about Israel’s very right to exist.”
This is the essence of the Durban Strategy: to undermine popular acceptance of Israel’s legitimate place in the international community. The Durban Strategy has since proliferated throughout the world.
We see it today in mainline churches, labor unions, university campuses, local and national governments, corporate stockholder meetings, and the arts.
A central element of EU foreign policy is its funding of NGOs in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. This is accomplished via the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Partnership for Peace, the Anna Lindh Foundation and other structures.
In the decade since the Durban conference, NGO Monitor has documented the transfer of over one hundred million euros from the EU and various European governments to scores of NGOs carrying out the Durban Strategy.
Some of the NGOs that have received EU funding in the past decade include the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD), a radical Israeli NGO that promotes a “one state” solution; the Democracy and Workers Rights Center Association (DWRC), which promotes boycotts, divestment and sanctions; and Mada al-Carmel, which was instrumental in composing the Haifa Declaration, which calls for a “change in the definition of the State of Israel from a Jewish state,” and the implementation of the Palestinian “right of return.”
Many of these NGOs use human rights as a façade to foster political programs contrary to the EU’s official policy for resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions, the deliberate distortion of international law through lawfare and the exploitation and misapplication of human rights principles.
The European Court of Justice’s ruling favoring secrecy over transparency will not be the final word. The door has been opened to expand the “naming and shaming” of European governments that secretly fund the Durban Strategy, and their NGO clients.
In the months to come, NGO Monitor will lead a major political and media campaign designed to expose the ways hundreds of millions of euros in taxpayer funds are secretly disbursed to promote radical anti-Israel NGOs.
Eventually the truth will emerge, and when it does European taxpayers will learn the details of how their hard earned euros have contributed not to peace, but to further conflict and strife between Israelis and Arabs.
The author is chief programs officer for the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.