Summary

  • Adalah, an Israeli political advocacy NGO, receives significant funding from the EU. At the same time, the organization employs an EU Advocacy Officer to “lobby European Union governments to continue their financial backing of the group.” This is a violation of the principles of good governance in democratic systems, creating a closed echo chamber effect that excludes pluralistic debate.
  • Miri Weingarten is Adalah’s EU Advocacy Officer. Weingarten has a long history of activism on behalf of NGOs and campaigns that promote delegitimization of Israel.
  • Adalah’s lobbying of the EU is also facilitated and amplified by membership in the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) network, which is also involved in intense partisan advocacy. EMHRN is another recipient of direct EU funding.
  • Adalah has not registered with the EU database of lobbying organizations.
  • This report was sent to the EU Delegation in Israel for comment. The brief response did not respond substantively to any of these issues.

Overview

This case study examines the phenomenon of an EU grantee, Adalah, engaging in political advocacy within EU frameworks, while lobbying the EU for funding. In contrast to EU justifications for funding Adalah based on promoting human rights within Israeli society, Adalah and its partners are very active outside of Israel in promoting a highly politicized narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Adalah lobbying of the EU reinforces a highly politicized agenda, erases complexities and alternate viewpoints, and seeks further support for the NGO.  In turn, EU officials repeat Adalah’s highly distorted version of events with automatic criticism of Israeli policy, and continue to fund the NGO.

This echo chamber, where EU funding facilitates the very NGO lobbying that informs EU policy, excludes pluralistic debate and ensures that the EU will extend funds for future Adalah and like-minded projects.

Adalah is currently receiving a three-year grant of €627,526 (2009-2012) from the EU.

Background

Adalah, an Arab-Israeli NGO based in Haifa, claims to “promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.”

Adalah has been receiving a three-year grant of €627,526 (2009-2012) from the European Union via the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy (EIDHR) for the project “Combating and Preventing Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Prisoners held in Israeli Prisons and Palestinian Civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).” According to an Adalah press release (April 13, 2011), this is an “EU-funded joint project” run by “Adalah, Al Mezan (Gaza) and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.”

A significant portion of the NGO’s activities are devoted to delegitimizing Israel in international frameworks. For instance, Adalah wrote and edited large portions of “Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?: A re-assessment of Israel´s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law,” a document that delegitimizes Israeli self-defense measures as “inhumane act[s] of apartheid...perpetrated in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another.”

International Advocacy” is listed as one of Adalah’s main goals. According to a media report (August 7, 2011), Adalah “hired an advocacy expert to lobby European Union governments to continue their financial backing of the group amid Israeli efforts to persuade EU officials to curb their funding of Israeli human-rights organizations” (emphasis added). This individual appears to be Miri Weingarten, Adalah’s “EU advocacy coordinator for Israel/OPT,” who has functioned in that capacity since March 2011.

According to Adalah, “One of the main priorities of the [work] in Europe was to raise awareness about the threats to HRDs [human rights defenders] and attacks on human rights organizations, and to expose anti-democratic / discriminatory trends in Israel.” “Interim results” of this lobbying include criticism of Israeli policies by European Parliament subcommittees and the EU Delegation in Tel Aviv.

The NGO has also “conduct[ed] its EU advocacy initiatives within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN).” The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN receives independent EU funding (€720,865 in 2010).

The European Union administers a database of “NGOs, think tanks - indeed any organisation or self-employed individual engaged in influencing EU policy making and implementation”; registration is “on a voluntary basis.”  As of October 23, 2011, Adalah has not registered its lobbying activities in the database. 

Examples of Adalah’s EU lobbying 

July 13, 2011 – On behalf of Adalah, PCHR-I, and PCATI, Miri Weingarten presented an “Urgent request” to members of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Authority regarding proposed Knesset legislation: “We are seeking urgent intervention from the European Parliament, the EU and EU Member States and their representatives, in the form of statements of concern and condemnation, and/or public or nonpublic bilateral approaches to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and/or Israeli Embassies and Representations.”

March 2011 – Weingarten participated in briefings in Brussels on “human rights defenders, including aspects of legislation, law enforcement, the role of the judiciary, media and the academia” to “all 27 EU member states in the MaMa [Mashrek/Maghreb] Working Group of the European Council [and] two MEPs of the European Parliament’s human rights subcommittee.”

June 23, 2010 –Submission to the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs on “Restrictions on human rights organizations and the legitimate activities of Arab political leaders in Israel.” This document included a defense of Ameer Makhoul, who was praised as  a “human  rights  defender.” In January 2011, Makhoul was sentenced to nine years in prison for spying on behalf of Hezbollah.

May 26, 2010 - Adalah briefed 15 Members of the European Parliament (MEP) before their visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

February 3, 2010 – A public event organized by EMHRN in Brussels endorsing the Goldstone Report included speakers from Adalah, as well as partner organizations Al-Mezan and PHR-I, B’Tselem, and Al Haq. 

Adalah EU lobbyist Miri Weingarten 

Since March 2011, Miri Weingarten has been working as the European advocacy officer for Adalah, as well as Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI). Since 2007, she has worked as an EU lobbying for PHR-I, and until at least February 2010 she represented B’Tselem as well. (In correspondence with NGO Monitor, B’Tselem claimed that Weingarten left the organization at the end of 2009, but the flyer for the above mentioned February 3, 2010 event on the Goldstone Report lists her affiliation with B’Tselem.)

In an October 2009 “working group” organized by EMHRN, she falsely and inflammatorily accused Israel of “entrenching a system of apartheid.” Similarly, in the article “Who’s Afraid of the Boycott” (July 19, 2011), Weingarten associates a Knesset proposal that opposed anti-Israel boycotts with “fascism” and compares it to Hitler’s April 1, 1933 “boycott of Jewish businesses.”

In 2009, Weingarten coordinated a joint letter by B’Tselem, HaMoked, and PHR-I to EU foreign ministers, calling on the EU to link the upgrade of EU-Israel relations to “respect for human rights” and “the rule of law,” a tactic employed by those calling for the EU to sanction Israel and sever the Association Agreement. On its website, PHR-I claims this campaign “bore fruit.”

Weingarten signed a December 2009 public letter to the British Prime Minister, urging him to support the Goldstone Report. She also claims to have “updated” diplomats in Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm, London, and Madrid on the progress of the Goldstone research before the publication of the report. After the publication of the Goldstone Report, Weingarten briefed UN representatives in Geneva, together with HRW. She also “informed” ministers and MPs on the “limitations” of internal Israeli investigations into operation Cast Lead.