See NGO Monitor’s report on Swiss Government Funding, NGOs, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (published May 10, 2015).
- The Swiss government provides millions of Swiss francs annually – through direct and indirect funding processes at the federal, cantonal, and municipal level – to highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Switzerland, Europe, US, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
- Grants are provided to NGOs that demonize Israel and support BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). These NGOs have no competence or experience in the areas for which they are officially funded, such as promotion of peace or the development of democratic and economic norms.
- Funding for these NGOs often lacks transparency. NGO Monitor research has identified several government grants that have not been reported on Swiss government websites.
- NGOs receive Swiss federal funding through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and three large church-based organizations – Diakonia (a Swedish NGO), HEKS, and Caritas Switzerland. NGOs also receive funding through development projects sponsored by the Geneva Canton and Geneva Municipality.
- In April 2016, Swiss MP Christian Imark submitted a motion signed by 41 MPs (out of 200 members of parliament) demanding that the government adjust funding regulations so that Swiss taxpayer money would not be directly or indirectly distributed as aid to “racist and anti-Semitic” groups or those involved in BDS campaigns and hatespeech. MP Imark also submitted two written questions, regarding Secretariat activities as well as general Swiss funding to NGOs, to the Swiss Parliament.
Swiss Aid for Development and Cooperation
- The goal of the SDC is “reducing poverty,” fostering “economic self-reliance and state autonomy,” and providing “better access to education and basic healthcare services.” Regarding Gaza and the West Bank, SDC claims to work toward “building a democratic and viable Palestinian state, and to enhancing the prospects of peace for Palestinians.”
- Some SDC funding to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs is channeled through a governmental donor consortium jointly operated by Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, known as the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (“the Secretariat”). Switzerland contributed CHF 3 million for 2013-2017. Click here for more information on the Secretariat
- SDC provides direct funding to Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and Oxfam Great Britain.
- In addition to the funding disclosed by the SDC, independent research reveals Swiss government funding for Adalah, Terrestrial Jerusalem, and Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF).
Human Rights and Humanitarian Law International Secretariat
- Together with Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, Switzerland funds Israeli and Palestinian NGOs through The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the “Secretariat”). This funding mechanism has a projected budget of $17.6 million over four years, including $13 million for NGOs. The funds are managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) and a European multidisciplinary consulting company, NIRAS.
- In February 2014, IoL-BZU published a 15-page report, “Advocating for Palestinian Rights in conformity with International Law: Guidelines” (English and Arabic). This document is a strategic manual for exploiting legal terms and rhetoric to demonize and isolate Israel internationally (“lawfare”), as well as to emphasize that Israel regardless of its borders is among “racist regimes which are absolutely prohibited in their entirety.” This report was posted prominently on the Human Rights Secretariat Facebook page.
- Through the Secretariat, Swiss funds are redirected to several politicized NGOs, such as Badil, which promotes “resistance” and “martyr” rhetoric, and promotes anti-peace initiatives and a “one-state” framework. The organization also promotes the Palestinian “right of return” and leads international BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns, by also engaging in blatant antisemitic activities. In 2010, Badil signed a document explicitly rejecting the Roadmap for Peace and the Arab Peace Initiative, in sharp contradiction to the goals and policies of its government sponsors. Badil also sponsors annual “right of return contests” in which it has published antisemitic cartoons on its website, as well as imagery denying Israel’s right to exist. After the antisemitic cartoons were revealed by NGO Monitor in 2010, the Swiss government announced a funding freeze for this NGO; it appears that funding has been renewed.
- In August 2014, The Secretariat announced “emergency funding” to nine Israeli and Palestinian NGOs to “document the violations by all parties of human rights and international humanitarian law arising from the armed conflict.” Switzerland donated CHF 100,000 to this fund. All nine of these NGOs (Al-Dameer, B’Tselem, Badil, Breaking the Silence, DCI-Palestine, Al Mezan, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Women’s Affairs Center, Women’s Affairs Technical Committee) have extensively accused Israel of unsubstantiated “war crimes,” while disregarding clear Hamas human rights violations. In addition, some of these NGOs played a pivotal role in providing dubious and inaccurate statements to the discredited 2009 UN Goldstone.
- In September 2014, the Secretariat approved project funding for the period of September 2014 to August 2015. Over $1.2 million was authorized for 20 NGOs, many of which accuse Israel of “de-Palestinization,” “apartheid,” “colonization,” “collective punishment,” “forced displacement,” violations of “cultural and religious rights,” “repression,” “restricting movement,” “water theft,” and a “ghettoization project,” as well as support BDS campaigns and agendas. Funding was directed also to the “Stop the Wall Campaign,” a leader of international BDS against Israel, for an overtly political project “To contribute to a situation of accountability and respect for human rights by all duty bearers by creating mechanisms to implement the ICJ decision related to the separation Wall.”
- In 2013 approximately 9% of its expenses (about 45 million SEK of 470 million SEK) was directed to Middle East programs.
- Political advocacy within the Arab-Israeli conflict is a central element of Diakonia’s agenda.
- Switzerland contributed CHF 2.2 million to Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law Program for 2012-2014. This donation accounted for more than 40% of the Program’s budget.
- Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law Program provides funding to Al Haq and Al Mazan, two Palestinian NGOs highly active in lawfare campaigns against Israel.
- In 2013, HEKS’s total revenue was CHF 66.6 million.
- HEKS’ 2013 budget for “Palestine/Israel” was CHF 1.13 million. The SDC provided CHF 361,382, which amounted to 31% of this budget.
- HEKS funds political advocacy NGOs Badil, Zochrot, Yesh Din, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I).
- In 2013, Caritas Switzerland had an operating income of CHF 94 million. In 2013-2014, SDC contributed CHF 20 million to Caritas Switzerland.
- In 2013, Caritas Switzerland funded six projects in Israel and Palestinian territories.
- Two of these projects are carried out by Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) and Youth Empowerment Center (affiliated with DanChurchAid , based in Denmark).
- Caritas does not publish any information on the four remaining projects, its partners, activities, or results.
- Swiss Parliament Launches Inquiry into Anti-Israel NGOs Benjamin Weinthal, The Jerusalem Post
- Kidnapped Israeli Teens Compel Scrutiny of Hamas's International Finances Matthew Levitt, The New Republic, June 24, 2014