BDS IN THE PEWS
Update on Swedish Funding for NGOs
July 22, 2012
- The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) funds Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) through multiple channels: directly from Sida, via Swedish “framework organizations,” and via the NGO Development Center (NDC) in Ramallah.
- Sida identifies “Promoting peacemaking and the peace process” and “Promoting the creation of a democratic Palestinian state” as the “focus areas” for its funding in the West Bank and Gaza. However, some of the NGO funding is entirely inconsistent with these goals, in particular support for groups that lead anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns and reject a negotiated “two-state” framework.
Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS)
- It appears that Sida is funding calls for boycotts of Israeli products and academics within Sweden. Since 2008, Sida (via Forum Syd) has provided SEK 8,603,000 ($$$) for 16 programs run by pro-BDS group Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS). Four of these programs (totaling SEK 3,328,000) were for PGS lobbying and propaganda projects in Sweden itself, which, among other goals, attempt to “influenc[e] Swedish foreign policy” and calls for “refraining from consuming products from Israel.”
- Swedish Minister of Development Aid Gunilla Carlsson criticized a PGS booklet entitled “Colonialism and Apartheid - Israel's Occupation of Palestine”: “One side [of the conflict] is demonized and they [PGS] clearly side with one party and are lobbying. But this is not what tax-payer money should be used for.”
Church NGOs (Sabeel and ELCJHL)
- Another Sida grantee (via Diakonia) is Sabeel, which received SEK 225,000 in 2011 for a four-month program “A strengthened community that works for justice and peace for all the people of the land through a spirituality of non-violence.”
- Sabeel is active in anti-Israel political campaigns, including church divestment campaigns, and supports a “one state solution,” meaning the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.
- Sabeel claims that Palestinians represent a modern-day version of Jesus’ suffering, using “liberation theology,” replacement theology, supercessionist rhetoric, and the concept of deicide to demonize Israel. According to the European Union, this is seen as a modern, politicized version of historical theological antisemitism.
- Director Naim Ateek employs themes and imagery that demonize Israel by associating it with the killing of Jesus: “As we approach Holy Week and Easter, the suffering of Jesus Christ at the hands of evil political and religious powers two thousand years ago, is lived out again in Palestine…In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull…” [sic]
- Sida (via Diakonia) also funded Sabeel’s Nakba Memory program in 2008 “to commemorate the Nakba [Catastrophe] of 1948, examine the current struggles for freedom, equality, and identity, and confront the continuing problems of the 1948 refugees.”
- Between 2006 and 2012, Sida provided SEK 7,160,600 to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and The Holy Land (ELCJHL) via the Church of Sweden. ELCJHL supports the Kairos Palestine document, which calls for BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) against Israel and denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel; President of the Synod of ELCJHL Mitri Raheb is one of the original endorsers of the document.
- The Church of Sweden also endorses and promotes the Kairos Palestine document. Other biased activities include involvement in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and support for BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions).
- Sida’s description of one of the ELCJHL projects notes that “[Palestinian] churches are also a driving force in advocacy for human rights, democracy and a just peace between Israel and Palestine in line with UN resolutions.” It is unclear whether this funding went to anti-Israel campaigns, such as divestment calls, in which ELCJHL and the Church of Sweden are active.
Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS)
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
- In 2010, Sida funded the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) - a leader in the NGO “lawfare” strategy of exploiting the universal jurisdiction to bring cases against Israeli officials alleging “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” (Information on 2011 and 2012 could not be found.)
Funding via the NGO Development Center (NDC, Ramallah)
- In 2008, Sweden, along with Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, established the Human Rights and Good Governance Secretariat (HR/GG Secretariat) run by the NGO Development Center (NDC) in Ramallah.
- As part of this joint framework, Sweden pledged SEK 31.5 million for 2010 – 2013.
- NDC, which administers the program on behalf of the governments, NDC “facilitated” and funded the “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct” which demands that Palestinian groups reject “any normalization activities with the occupier, neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.”
- A significant number of HR/GG grantees advance anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) campaigns – including PCHR ($425,000), Al-Haq ($134,000), DCI-PS ($639,000), Al Mezan ($425,000), ARIJ ($40,000), BADIL , Miftah ($110,000), and ICAHD ($76,000)
 BADIL originally received a grant of $575,000 over three years, but its funding was frozen in May 2011 after BADIL posted antisemitic images on its website.