See NGO Monitor’s report on Swiss Government Funding, NGOs, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (published May 10, 2015).
Click for a compilation of articles highlighting NGO Monitor’s contributions to the broader conversation about NGOs, funding, and accountability in Switzerland. These include blogs and op-eds written by NGO Monitor and staff, as well as articles citing NGO Monitor, or otherwise relevant to our mission.
- The Swiss government funds numerous Israeli and Palestinian NGOs through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC/EDA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and representative offices in Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Switzerland indirectly funds NGOs by outsourcing to church groups and aid organizations such as HEKS, Diakonia, and Oxfam GB.
- In 2016, the Swiss government provided over CHF 11 million in direct and indirect funding to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) active in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many of these NGOs do not further Swiss interests and foreign policy in the region, such as promoting peace and a two-state framework.
- On March 8, 2017, the Swiss Parliament voted (111 to 78 with 4 abstentions) to “amend the laws, ordinances and regulations so that Switzerland can no longer subsidize, even indirectly, development cooperation projects carried out by NGOs involved in racist, antisemitic or hate incitement actions, or in BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns.” The bill moves to the Swiss Council of States for a May vote.
- 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.
- In MP Christian Imark’s speech in the Swiss Parliament before the vote, he stated “We have tried countless times – without success, unfortunately – to persuade the government of Switzerland (and the relevant Department) to take a stand regarding the specific accusations and to present the matter from its point of view. For instance, Switzerland either directly or indirectly supports the following NGOs with some millions of Swiss francs: Badil, Addameer, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Breaking the Silence, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Adalah, Zochrot and Israel Social TV. These organizations promote and carry out boycotts and sanctions against Israel; incite hatred of Israel and conduct juridical warfare, anti-Zionist and racist campaigns; call for the destruction of the state of Israel; and even, in some cases, have direct ties to terror organizations.”
- The Swiss government recently denied requests from a concerned Swiss citizen and NGO Monitor to provide public information about Swiss funding to the Secretariat. The government’s response claimed, “access to official documents is likely to affect the interests of Switzerland in matters of foreign policy and international relations.”
- According to articles published in January 2017 by Basler Zeitung (Pierre Heumann, Palästinenser kritisieren EDA, January 16) and Jerusalem Post (Benjamin Weinthal, Swiss government hosts $85,000 event aiming to unify Hamas and Fatah, January 16), the Swiss government and Finnish NGO Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), spent a combined $85,000 on a workshop in Geneva whose purpose was to promote reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
- Switzerland, together with the governments of Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands, jointly fund the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Secretariat). This funding mechanism had a $17.6 million four-year budget (2013-2016).
- The Secretariat funds Al-Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children International -Palestine (DCI-P), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and Stop the Wall, which have alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S., EU, Canada, and Israel.
- NGO Monitor has extensively documented numerous concerns related to the Secretariat.
- Funds highly politicized NGOs that engage in legal warfare against Israeli officials and companies that do business with Israel, promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns, advance a “1948 agenda,” exploit the false “apartheid” analogy to demonize Israel, and even promote antisemitic propaganda.
According to information on file with NGO Monitor, the Swiss government distributed the following direct funding in 2016 to NGOs working in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The following chart shows the amount distributed to each NGO in 2016, the funding source, and the relevant project (as reported by the Swiss government).
- Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) received CHF 180,000 from EDA in 2016 as part of a CHF 1.04 million project (2016-2019).
- On June 19, 2014, Israel’s Defense Minister declared Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) to be illegal, based on its alleged role in funneling money to Hamas, and banned it from operating in Israel and the West Bank. According to news reports, the decision was made after “the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the coordinator for government activities in the territories, and legal authorities provided incriminating information against IRW.”
- In November 2014, the United Arab Emirates banned IRW as a terrorist organization.
- In January 2016, HSBC Banking group in the UK severed ties with IRW over terror financing fears.
- NRC received CHF 279,000 in 2016 from EDA as part of a CHF 710,000 project (2015-2017).
- NRC supports politicized “Litigation of public interest cases …through Israeli courts and international mechanisms,” as stated in their 2016 project plan. Previously, NRC funded over 4,000 cases and legal interventions in Israeli forums.
- A lawyer affiliated with the NRC program stated that the objective of these cases is an attempt to “try every possible legal measure to disrupt the Israeli judicial system… as many cases as possible are registered and that as many cases as possible are appealed to increase the workload of the courts and the Supreme Court to such an extent that there will be a blockage.” (emphasis added)
- Diakonia received CHF 531,900 in 2016 from EDA, as part of the CHF 2,988,000 Swiss budget to Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law Resource Center (IHLRC) (in existence since 2012). The IHLRC focuses exclusively on Israel, and Diakonia does not conduct similar types of programs in terms of content or resources involving any other conflict region in the world.
- Diakonia does not reveal how much it distributes to NGOs in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. (See below.)
- Diakonia supports settlement boycotts and accuses Israel of “collective punishment,” “war crimes,” and “violations of international humanitarian law (IHL),” ignoring Hamas terror attacks against Israeli civilians and Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense.
- AIDA received CHF 240,000 in 2016 as part of a CHF 450,000 project (2016-2017).
- Accuses Israel of “violations of international law,” “collective punishment,” “forcible population transfers,” and using “coercive tactics to heighten the pressure on Palestinian Bedouin communities.” These accusations are part of the broader NGO campaign to delegitimize Israel in the international arena.
- ARIJ received CHF 282,050 in 2016. It is unclear what this funding is for.
- ARIJ is among the leaders of the political warfare against Israel, seeking to further BDS campaigns against Israel, false accusations of Israeli “apartheid” and “racism,” and support for a Palestinian “right of return” that is inconsistent with a two-state framework.
- GCMHP received CHF 741,356 from EDA in 2016 as part of a CHF 1.4 million project (2015-2017).
- GCMHP uses unsubstantiated medical claims as an avenue to criticize the Israeli government, including allegations that Israel engages in “systematic state organized violence,” “collective punishment” “massacres,” “war crimes,” and a system of “apartheid” against Palestinians.
- Breaking the Silence received CHF 40,000 from the MFA in 2016. In 2015, BtS received NIS 159,500 from the MFA (see below).
- Active in promoting “war crimes” charges against Israel based on anonymous and unverifiable hearsay “testimonies.”
- Although claiming to address Israeli society, the NGO’s lobbying and media advocacy focus on international audiences, including presentations in Europe and the United States.
- The cultural center in Zurich hosted an event, June 4-14, 2015, featuring a Breaking the Silence photo exhibition, as well as “testimonies.” The event was sponsored by the Swiss Foreign Ministry, the Municipality of Zurich, and several church groups that are active in delegitimization campaigns against Israel.
- Adalah received CHF 70,000 from the MFA in 2016. Adalah reported receiving NIS 279,749 in 2013-2014 from the MFA, and NIS 694,473 in 2015-2016 from the FDFA.
- Adalah publishes an online “Discriminatory Laws Database.” This deceptive list does not distinguish between laws and legislative proposals and refers to Zionism pejoratively. Furthermore, laws regarding the historic Jewish connection to Israel are labeled as discriminatory, including the use of symbols and the Hebrew calendar.
- Gisha received CHF 60,000 from the MFA in 2016. Gisha previously received 233,806 from the Embassy in 2015.
- Employs “apartheid” rhetoric and vocabulary based on international law and human rights to promote a partisan political and ideological agenda.
Indirect Funding to NGOs in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza
Indirect funding from the Swiss is transferred through Diakonia, HEKS, Caritas Switzerland, and Medico International.
- Diakonia received CHF 531,900 in 2016 from SDC, part of the CHF 2,988,000 Swiss budget to Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law Resource Center (IHLRC). See above.
- Diakonia partners with a number of NGOs that promote BDS and lawfare campaigns against Israel, and some even blatant antisemitism, such as: BADIL, Sabeel, Al-Haq, Alternative Information Center (AIC), and Al-Mezan.
- Al-Haq: Al-Haq’s General Director, Shawan Jabarin, has alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization and, as such, has been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan. (Click here to read a translation of the decision by the Israeli High Court of Justice, June 20, 2007.)
- Alternative Information Center (AIC): Prior to the organization’s founding, AIC co-founder Michael Warschawski was a leader of “Matzpen,” the anti-Zionist Trotskyite organization. Warschawski was jailed in the 1990s for publishing an informational pamphlet for the PFLP terror group (verdict on file).
- AIC is a registered Israeli NGO, and in 2016 the Israeli Registrar of Non Profits requested that the organization be served a liquidation order by the court due to it “operating illegally, in violation of its declared objectives and statutes.”
- BADIL: BADIL is one of the primary NGOs advocating for a Palestinian “right of return” and is a leader of BDS and political warfare campaigns against Israel. The organization publishes antisemitic cartoons on its website, as well as imagery calling for the destruction of Israel (also a form of antisemitism) and denying Israel’s right to exist. A cartoon published by BADIL included classic antisemitic tropes and featured a Jewish man, garbed in traditional Hasidic attire, with a hooked nose and side locks. He stands above a dead child and skulls, holding a pitchfork dripping with blood. Additional graphics deny the legitimacy of Israel in any form, and oppose peace agreements.
- Al-Mezan: Regularly describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid,” accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “war crimes,” promotes the “nakba” narrative and refers to Israeli security measures as “collective punishment.”
- HEKS (Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz) is the aid organization of the Protestant Churches of Switzerland.
- In 2015, HEKS had a total annual income of CHF 69 million, 24% of which came from government sources (“Confederation/cantons/municipalities”).
- In 2016, HEKS’ total project funding for “Palestine-Israel” was CHF 1.6 million. HEKS published information on funding to projects (listed below), amounting to CHF 1.13 million.
- Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI): CHF 225,000 from HEKS in 2016. Founded by the WCC, EAPPI promotes BDS campaigns, and utilizes rhetoric accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” and “war crimes.” EAPPI sends volunteers to the West Bank to “witness life under occupation”; upon their return, EAPPI dispatches these volunteers to promote BDS in their home countries.
- Open Forum: CHF 760,000 to civil society organizations in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza through a project called Open Forum, “a network for Jewish and Palestinian organisations in Israel as well as organisations in the occupied Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem.” Partner organizations include:
- BADIL: (see above)
- Zochrot: Accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “ongoing destruction of Palestinian localities,” “expulsion,” “massacres,” and “disregard for the rights of refugees and displaced people.”
- Coalition of Women for Peace: A leader in international BDS campaigns against Israel, including through initiating the “Who Profits?” project.
- Emek Shaveh: (see above).
- Kerem Navot: In 2016, BDS activists targeted Israeli membership in FIFA. Kerem Navot was centrally cited in Human Rights Watch’s FIFA document. Its own document on the issue accused Israel of a “takeover of land,” including “pirate tactics.”
- Yesh Din received NIS 240,640 from 2013-2015. The organization engages in a “lawfare” strategy and presents misleading data about Israeli law enforcement. Michael Sfard, Yesh Din’s primary legal counsel and an editor of many of the NGO’s reports, claims, “If war crimes are committed and an apartheid system is being deployed under our eyes, it is the moral duty of a citizen of the country responsible, to combat this, even if it means using external legal means.”
- Other recipients include Kayan and New Profile.
- Physicians for Human Rights-Israel: CHF 75,000 (see above).
- Culture and Free Thought Association: CHF 70,000.
- Social TV received over NIS 90,000 in 2015. Acts as a platform for accusations of Israeli “apartheid,” “racism,” “discrimination,” and perpetrating a “Nakba” against the Palestinian population, and to advocate the “one-state” solution and a Palestinian “right of return.”
- In 2015, HEKS also provided over $25,000 to American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). AFSC actively promotes BDS campaigns against Israel; accuses Israel of “apartheid against Palestinians”; and advocates for a Palestinian “right of return,” meaning the end of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- In 2015, Caritas Switzerland’s total assets were over CHF 64.1 million (CHF 65 million in 2014). Of this, CHF 36.8 million was public government funding, with CHF 15.3 million from federal sources, and CHF 21.5 million from cantons and communes. 15.7% of the budget came from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
- Sadaka Reut (see above) received CHF 255,800 from Caritas Switzerland (2013 to 2016).
Medico International Switzerland
- In 2015, Medico International Switzerland’s assets totaled CHF 1.1 million and were CHF 1 million in 2014. Medico international Switzerland is funded by a variety of private sources, as well as public municipalities and cantons.
According to Medico International Switzerland, the organization runs six projects in “Palestine/Israel.” In 2015, Medico International Switzerland provided a total of CHF 118,248 (CHF 158,746 in 2014).
- In 2015, Medico International Switzerland funded Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (see above), Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) (see above), Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), and Medical Relief Society (PMRS operating in Jerusalem) for a first aid project in Jerusalem “because of the increasing violence in East Jerusalem.” Specific amounts of funding to each organization are not provided.
- Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) repeatedly claims that Israel violates “human rights,” employs methods of “collective punishment,” “deploys non-conventional weapons against civilians,” and seeks to “oust the Palestinians… into densely populated enclaves fully controlled by Israel and geographically separate.”
Direct Funding from Swiss Government to NGOs active in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza (as of January 15, 2017)
|Organization||2016 Funding (CHF)||Funding Source||Project funding (CHF)|
|Islamic Relief Worldwide||180,000||EDA||1,040,000
|Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)||279,000||EDA||710,000
|NIRAS – Secretariat||975,000||EDA||3,800,000
|Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA)||240,000||EDA||450,000
|Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)||292,050||EDA||Unable to independently verify|
|Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP)||741,356||EDA||1,404,000
|Independent Commission of Human Rights (ICHR)||400,000||EDA||1,405,000
|Breaking the Silence||40,000||MFA||See below|
|Terrestrial Jerusalem||55,260||MFA||See below|
|Emek Shaveh||51,600||MFA||See below|
|Molad||60,300||MFA||Unable to independently verify|
|Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA)||143,451||EDA||1,180,000
|Geneva Initiative||641,664||MFA||See below|
|Human Rights Defenders Fund||62,604||MFA||See below|
|Negev Coexistence Forum||64,576||MFA||See below|
|Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)||769,305||EDA||1,500,000
|Terre des Hommes Lausanne||240,000||EDA||Unable to independently verify|
|Human Rights Defenders Fund||7,000||Representative Office in Tel Aviv||See below|
|B’Tselem||10,000||Representative Office in Tel Aviv||See below|
- Swiss Legislature Passes Bill to Stop Funding for Boycotts of Israel Benjamin Weinthal, The Jerusalem Post, March 9, 2017
- 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