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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.

Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat

Direct Funding

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

  • 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.

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)

  • 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

  • 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.

Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA)

Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)

  • 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.

Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP)

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

Indirect Funding

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

    • 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

Caritas Switzerland

Medico International Switzerland

Direct Funding from Swiss Government to NGOs active in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza (as of January 15, 2017)

Organization2016 Funding (CHF)Funding SourceProject funding (CHF)
Islamic Relief Worldwide180,000EDA1,040,000
(2016-2019)
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)279,000EDA710,000
(2015-2017)
Diakonia531,900EDA432,380
(2016)
NIRAS – Secretariat975,000EDA3,800,000
(2013-2017)
Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA)240,000EDA450,000
(2016-2017)
Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)292,050EDAUnable to independently verify
Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP)741,356EDA1,404,000
(2015-2017)
Independent Commission of Human Rights (ICHR)400,000EDA1,405,000
(2015-2016)
Oxfam GB980,000EDA3,398,588
2015-2017
Oxfam Italy480,000EDA3,400,000
(2011-2017)
Breaking the Silence40,000MFASee below
Terrestrial Jerusalem55,260MFASee below
Emek Shaveh51,600MFASee below
Adalah70,000MFASee below
Gisha60,000MFASee below
Molad60,300MFAUnable to independently verify
Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA)143,451EDA1,180,000
(2016-2018)
Geneva Initiative641,664MFASee below
Human Rights Defenders Fund62,604MFASee below
Bimkom45,000MFASee below
Negev Coexistence Forum64,576MFASee below
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)769,305EDA1,500,000
(2015-2017)
Terre des Hommes Lausanne240,000EDAUnable to independently verify
Human Rights Defenders Fund7,000Representative Office in Tel AvivSee below
B’Tselem10,000Representative Office in Tel AvivSee below

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Further Reading