Key Issue:Extremist Populism and NGOs – Misinformation, Radicalization, and Incitement to Violence
Several European-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict appropriate the language of human rights and international law in order to distort historical and political contexts and blur moral distinctions. Often, this occurs to the point of propagating thinly veiled libelous claims or endorsing violence and terrorism. Some of the NGOs even have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a designated terrorist organization by the EU, US, Canada, and Israel.
The German Federal Government directly and indirectly provides millions of euros to political advocacy NGOs that engage in violent demonstrations, incitement, and the glorification of terrorism, and some additionally have alleged ties to terrorist organizations. German funding to groups in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza is channeled through a variety of frameworks, including German federal funding programs of the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Federal Foreign Office, government-funded church aid, and independent development NGOs.
The Civil Peace Service (ZFD), an NGO-funding program of the BMZ, funds a project titled “Strengthening Nonviolent Initiatives” (2013-2019). In 2013-2016, one of the participating organizations was the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), a Palestinian NGO that has organized protests that have turned violent. PSCC’s Twitter activity repeatedly employs “martyr” rhetoric and posts photos of demonstrators hurling rocks. A PSCC board member, Manal Tamimi frequently utilizes virulently antisemitic rhetoric and imagery on social media.
In 2011, BMZ commissioned Riccardo Bocco to evaluate ZFD projects in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Bocco is a Professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and has questioned Israel’s status as a democracy, accused Israel of “state terrorism,” equating it with Hamas, and has ties with fringe anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) groups. In his report, Bocco recommended the PSCC as a local partner for BMZ.
Another ZFD project, “Nonviolent Conflict Transformation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories,” was co-implemented by Palestinian NGO Kairos Palestine, which authored and promotes the 2009 Kairos Palestine document that refers to “armed resistance” as “Palestinian legal resistance.” In a statement issued in the midst of a wave of terrorism against Israeli civilians in November 2015, Kairos Palestine declared, “We are mourning all innocent victims of the recent weeks. Resistance is a right and a duty for Christians and all Palestinians. We clearly support this right to resist the prolonged occupation and aggressions by successive Israeli governments and hereby call for a resistance in the logic of love” (emphasis added).
The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), a German federal enterprise, funds Palestinian NGOs PASSIA and MIFTAH. PASSIA appears to violence and terrorism and promotes distorted historical accounts. MIFTAH has described Wafa Idrees, one of the first female Palestinian suicide bombers, as “the beginning of a string of Palestinian women dedicated to sacrificing their lives for the cause.” Idrees detonated herself on January 27, 2002, killing one and injuring 150 Israeli civilians. She is further described as one of “several young women” who “decided to join the ranks of the resistance movement.”
In March 2013, MIFTAH published an article written by Nawaf al-Zaru that repeated the antisemitic blood libel that Jews use Christian blood to bake Passover matzah. After significant public criticism, MIFTAH removed the article, but attacked the blogger who exposed the article for “smearing” the organization and downplayed the centrality of the blood libel in the article.