Antisemitism is a very virulent and enduring form of racism that has unfortunately been reemerging to levels not seen since the 1930s, in the period leading up to the Holocaust. Throughout Europe, Jews have been deliberately targeted, violently attacked and murdered at synagogues, schools, kosher markets, and museums. Jews wearing yarmulkes (skull caps) or other religious markings are subject to harassment and violence. Crowds at soccer matches chant “Jews to the gas” and other genocidal taunts. Mass demonstrations in European capitals, ostensibly to protest Israeli actions towards the Palestinians, are rife with antisemitic and Nazi sloganeering and imagery. University campuses have seen extreme targeting and singling out of Jews. In Iran, state-sponsored Holocaust denial and calls to “wipe Israel off the map” are entrenched. Arab media is filled with vitriolic antisemitism and blood libels.
Government and UN Funding Used to Promote Antisemitism
As antisemitism rises and reaches crisis levels in Europe, NGOs that claim to promote human rights and humanitarian agendas in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict and executing the Durban Strategy have fueled and exacerbated hatred of and discrimination against Jews, promoting antisemitic themes and imagery, as at the Durban Conference. These groups, which include international, Palestinian, and Israeli NGOs, also fail to report on or condemn antisemitism and incitement against Jews.
Despite the extensive evidence of NGO antisemitism – egregious examples are provided below – governments, in particular in Europe, continue to fund these groups with hundreds of millions of dollars, pounds, euros, and kroner, and enable the problematic activities and rhetoric.
For instance, BADIL, a rabidly anti-Israel NGO, has been awarded $251,000 in core funding for 2014-16 by Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat. These governments, which ostensibly provide funding to support human rights and international law, are instead enabling an NGO that has engaged in egregious antisemitism (see below).
Project-based funding, which is ostensibly provided for a specific project, with its own intended outcomes and objectives, can be abused, as well. Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), an NGO receiving massive funding from countries such as the EU, UK, Australia and others, has been active in anti-Israel lobbying for years. However, its founding director, Dr. Swee Ang Chai, has also promoted virulent classical antisemitism (see below).
Moreover, funding is fungible. Justifications that NGO projects are unrelated to a grantee’s wider agenda and expressions of antisemitism belie government funders’ full responsibility for the activities of their grantees. Moreover, there is no doubt that if these groups had engaged in anti-black or LGBT discrimination, they would not receive funding from these governments. Yet, antisemitic activity does not serve as a bar to funding.
The harmful effects of this government support for NGOs are sustained by the secrecy that governs funding processes and shields NGO funding from public scrutiny. This lack of transparency is manifest in government websites and databases that do not provide basic information (i.e. amounts, project descriptions) on NGO grants, the refusal of funding agencies to release documentation on evaluations and decision making, and the refusal of government officials and diplomats responsible for allocating funds to NGOs to respond substantively to inquiries.
The ongoing government funding for NGOs that engage in antisemitic activities and use antisemitic rhetoric highlights the persistent double standard: Hatred of Jews is tolerated in a way that would be unthinkable for other racial, ethnic, or religious groups. Likewise, Jewish and Israeli targets are often denied the right to define what constitutes discrimination against them.
Main Forms of NGO Antisemitism
As seen in the following examples, when conducting anti-Israel campaigns, and especially during periods of intense conflict (e.g. the 2014 Gaza War), NGOs frequently use opposition to Israeli policies and purported anti-Zionism as cover for antisemitism. This is usually tied to accusations of Israeli “war crimes” and human rights violations, which reinforce these campaigns. They regularly include a radical fringe of Jews, recruited in an attempt to deflect accusations of antisemitism, double standards, and demonization – which is itself a form of antisemitism. These groups include international NGOs (Amnesty International,Human Rights Watch), Palestinian NGOs (MIFTAH, BADIL, Sabeel, Kairos Palestine , Electronic Intifada, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme), and Israeli groups (Alternative Information Center, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions).
Contemporary antisemitism is evidenced in NGO political campaigns based on the strategy adopted by the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference, through the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDSM) and legal attacks (“lawfare”). These campaigns regularly include a radical fringe of Jews, recruited in an attempt to deflect accusations of antisemitism, double standards, and demonization – which is itself a form of antisemitism.
Contrary to NGO claims that they are engaging in “legitimate criticism” of Israel, the NGO rhetoric, publications, and activities often violate accepted standards, including the EU and U.S. definitions of antisemitism. Notably, the U.S. Department of State Fact Sheet “Defining Anti-Semitism” lists the following examples of antisemitism “with regard to the state of Israel”:
Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions
DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL:
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist
The following provides several examples of NGO promotion of antisemitism in their campaigning:
Blood libels, “Protocols,” Classical Antisemitism
Since the Middle Ages, massacres of Jews have been triggered by “blood libels” – the charge that Jews ritually murdered Christian children and used their blood to bake Passover matzah (unleavened bread) and/or to prepare sacramental wine. Similarly, “the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions,” notoriously featured in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, have frequently driven antisemitism, particularly Nazi racial antisemitism.
These pernicious canards have been revived by NGOs, often in the context of calling for boycotts, sanctions, and other punishments for supposed Israeli wrongdoing.
The Lancet Medical Journal and Medical Aid for Palestinians
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) donors include: The EU , UK , Australia , Ireland , Trocaire ( Ireland ), Netherlands , UNICEF, UN Central Emergency Response Fund, The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), and Big Lottery Fund (Britain). According to its own financial reports , MAP claims to have received over £153,000 from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) but this information is not included in the DFID database beyond a project that ended in 2010.
On July 23, 2014, The Lancet published An Open Letter for the People of Gaza, which accused Israel of “war crimes” while ignoring Hamas’s crimes of rocket fire and terror tunnels from Gaza into Israeli territory. The letter included unsubstantiated allegations regarding both the use of illegal weaponry by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the utilization of those weapons to deliberately kill civilians. It denied Israel’s right to self-defense, failed to mention Hamas at all, and accused Israel of carrying out a propaganda campaign that “justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre.” The letter, written by Drs. Mads Gilbert, Paola Manduca, and Swee Ang Chai (see below), ends with the statement, “We declare no competing interests.” Yet, all three authors are associated with highly politicized NGOs engaged in anti-Israel campaigning.
The Lancet also allowed its website to be used to collect over 20,000 email signatures to “support the letter ,” demonstrating the editorial board’s active role in backing the letter.
The July 23, 2014 “Open Letter” was not the first time Dr. Swee Ang Chai advanced harsh and unjustifiable attacks against Israel in The Lancet. A February 2009 article of a similar nature was removed from The Lancet’s website shortly after publication, following exposure of its “ factual inaccuracies.”
On August 14, 2014, Dr. Paola Manduca forwarded an email from Dr. Swee Ang Chai with the subject line “ CNN Goldman Sachs & the Zio Matrix” to the Italian Google group Sempre Contro la Guerra. Ang wrote in her email, “This is shocking video please watch. This is not about Palestine – it is about all of us!” The email also contained, in bold red lettering, “SEE THIS VIDEO BEFORE IT IS REMOVED FROM CIRCULATION – Please do pass on to others who you think would be interested and would pass on>>>The whole world needs to know.”
The video made by white supremacist, David Duke, is described as “reveal[ing] how the Zionist Matrix of Power controls Media, Politics and Banking and how each Part of this Tribalist matrix supports and protects each other!” The video labels the Federal Reserve Bank as “the Zio Club FED,” calls NBC News anchor Brian Williams a “good Shabbez goy Zioscript reader,” identifies U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan as a “Zio tribalist,” and states, “Zios invaded and took over Walt Disney Corp. just as they invaded and took over Palestine.”
Paola Manduca had previously disseminated antisemitic content:
- On September 9, 2014 Manduca posted an article by Paul Larudee with the subject line “israel and parassites” (sic). The article’s main theme is that Israel, through the American Jewish community, is a “parasite” feeding off the host/victim nation – the United States – by controlling key U.S. institutions.
- Manduca posted an email on May 1, 2014 titled “Egyptian ruler General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi is a Jew.” In it, Manduca describes Judaism as a “‘blood determined’ religious group with ethnic and racist background and imperialist and genocidal in the context of Palestine.” (sic)
- On April 16, 2013 Manduca forwarded an email that provided a conspiracy theory behind the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing: “There is no mention of billions made by investors with inside knowledge; no mainstream media tried to investigate the short selling and the US stock market collapse that happened hours BEFORE the bombings (who profited?)… Let us hope that someone in the FBI is smart enough to look more carefully at the clues in Boston and find the real culprits behind these bombings instead of buying the Zionist spin.”
The fact that The Lancet, a reputable UK-based medical journal, readily published inflammatory and unverified materials from the same doctors who distributed these virulently antisemitic materials, is highly problematic. These instances may have directly enflamed antisemitic feelings and incidents within the UK .
Similarly, Dr. Swee Ang Chai founded Medical Aid for Palestinians as a UK charity in 1984. This NGO has also been used as a vehicle to promote antisemitism.
MAP utilizes politicized language accusing Israel of “indiscriminate attacks” and “collective punishment” against Palestinians while alleging that Israeli defensive measures are “arbitrary.” MAP also holds ongoing programs where Israel is consistently demonized. A central theme in its work is describing the founding of the State of Israel as the “nakba” (catastrophe) thereby using Palestinian nationalist references. MAP is also a partner with The Lancet medical journal in The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA).
Antisemitic statements have been made at MAP events and are also evident on MAP’s website.
- At a December 2013 joint MAP-LPHA event held at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, a third Gaza “open letter” author, Sir Iain Chalmers, made a comment echoing the antisemitism of the Duke video. In an audio recording of the event, Chalmers decries how “Zionists” have “control in so many different domains” and how The Lancet is one publication “they [Zionists] cannot suppress.” Chalmers also mused over the “interesting figure” of “six million” in relation to the number of non-Jews “whose lives” the “Jewish state… controls.”
- While speaking at a 2012 MAP event , “Pitching for Palestine,” The Lancet’s editor Horton described an invented situation in which Palestinians have no access to health care whatsoever, blamed Israel, and called for a global “uprising” against Israel:
And when the world sees the reality of Palestinian society, right now, today, this second, there will be an uprising. And there will be shame and horribles (sic) on Israel.
- In 2008, when MAP received the proceeds from an anti-Israel Christmas campaign organized by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. “Bethlehem Now: Nine Alternative Lessons and Carols for Palestine,” an event that offered an “alternative carol service,” to “highlight current reality in the Holy Land,” was held at Anglican St. James Church in Piccadilly, London. The alternative carols demonized Israel,including “Twelve Days of Christmas,” which was sung as, “Twelve assassinations/Eleven homes demolished/Ten wells obstructed/Nine sniper towers/Eight gunships firing/Seven checkpoints blocking/Six tanks a-rolling/Five settlement rings. Four falling bombs/Three trench guns/ Two trampled doves/And an uprooted olive tree.” Lord Carey of Clifton, former Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke out against the event, arguing that it demonstrated that “anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews still lurked beneath the surface in Christian circles in Britain.” Referring to the carol service, he added: “Such actions strengthen an anti-Israeli agenda, trivialize the political issues and nourish an anti-Semitic culture.”
Amnesty-UK Rejects Campaign Against Antisemitism while Staffer Makes Antisemitic Tweets
Although Amnesty claims that it does not accept donations from governments or political parties, in 2008 the organization received a 4-year grant from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), totaling £3,149,000 . In 2010, AI received £842,000 from DFID. Amnesty International and its branches have also received funding from the European Commission, the Netherlands, the United States, and Norway.
On April 19, Amnesty International-UK (AIUK) held its 2015 Annual General Meeting, and adopted 16 of 17 motions. The only proposed resolution that was rejected called on AIUK to “Campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK,” as well as “Lobby the UK Government to tackle the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain” and “monitor anti-semitism closely.” According to the motion, “neither AIUK nor the [Amnesty] International Secretariat have undertaken research or campaigning work specifically on anti-Semitism in the UK.”
The AIUK vote also took place in the context of repeated antisemitic incidents within the organization itself – in particular the activities of staff member Kristyan Benedict, who currently is listed as “crisis response manager.”
“The USA plays both Arab and Israel sides to generate money, power and control. The main reasons are: The Arms Trade: The conflict makes loads of money for the ‘weapons trade’. Israel always pushes the buttons to make all the surrounding Arabic states such as Syria, Lebanon feel insecure. So they then buy weapons off other states and this is a great profit-making industry… Also, it seems that many in the current coalition are driven by a feeling of ‘ethnic supremacy’.”
Benedict’s antisemitism was most pronounced in an incident during the November 2012 conflict in Gaza. In response to a British Parliamentary session where many members supported Israel’s operation, Benedict tweeted an attempted “joke,” suggesting that three Jewish MPs are warmongers. This tweet prompted an inquiry by John Mann MP, chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, seeking clarification on Amnesty’s policies towards preventing antisemitism.
Following the public criticism, Amnesty-UK launched disciplinary proceedings against Benedict. After a few weeks, he was forced to apologize for the “inappropriate and offensive” tweet, but Amnesty refused to acknowledge the antisemitism behind the incident, and Benedict remained on staff.
Following the 2014 Gaza war, Benedict posted a tweet (November 2014) comparing Israel to the Islamic State, claiming that “Israeli regimes [sic] response to our Gaza report: Amnesty is ‘a propaganda tool for Hamas & other terror groups’ (#JSIL?).” Amnesty’s arms control campaigner, Rasha Abdul-Rahim, has also disseminated posts with the #JSIL hashtag.
The Twitter tag “#JSIL” stands for “Jewish State in Levant” and is meant to compare Israel and Judaism with the international terrorist organization ISIL, implying that Israel’s activities are tantamount to the mass public executions and beheadings performed by ISIL. When confronted, Amnesty minimized community concerns saying: “This tweet was made in a personal capacity by a member of staff. It’s being investigated internally.” Amnesty has provided no details as to the status of this investigation, nor any results.
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat
Denmark , Sweden,Switzerland, and the Netherlands have allocated $13 million to jointly fund Israeli and Palestinian NGOs through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the “Secretariat”). The donor countries are responsible for “deciding on the general framework and policy for the HR/IHL Secretariat; approving operational manuals and standard forms for the Secretariat; approving annual work plans and budget for the Secretariat; approving funding as proposed by the Secretariat; deciding to open Calls for Proposals for project support; approving annual narrative reports and audited financial statements by the Secretariat; and the Steering Committee commissions the mid-term review or any other external evaluation of the programme.”
The funds are managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU), a highly troubling partnership that raises significant questions regarding the supporting governments’ commitment to combating anti-Semitism.
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, 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.
In September 2014, Ha’aretz exposed a policy at the university barring Jews from the Birzeit campus. The report received little outrage among Birzeit’s government funders and it does not appear they have taken any steps to end the policy. Moreover, the IoL-BZU continues to administer the Secretariat’s program.
BADIL is funded by the Secretariat (joint funding of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands), DanChurchAid (Denmark) and Trócaire (Ireland).
BADIL, a Palestinian NGO that focuses on promoting the so-called “right of return,” and recipient of extensive funding from the Secretariat, has repeatedly been linked to antisemitic images and rhetoric. In one example, an antisemitic cartoon won a monetary award in BADIL’s 2010 Al-Awda Nakba caricature competition. The cartoon is a blatant representation of classic antisemitic tropes, including 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. Another antisemitic image that was posted on the BADIL website, a monstrous octopus, is identified with a Star of David on its head and tentacles dripping with blood. The image of the “octopus” recalls the most virulent antisemitic imagery from the Nazi era. (See examples in Appendix A.)
While antisemitic images, mentioned above, were removed from BADIL’s website, after NGO Monitor contacted BADIL’s donors, countless other offensive caricatures are still displayed. Many of the caricatures call for the elimination of Israel and incite violence. (See Appendix A). See below for a selection of caricatures, taken from the BADIL website on April 24, 2014. Moreover, while the Swiss government temporarily froze BADIL’s Secretariat funding after the antisemitic cartoons were publicly revealed, the funding was renewed in 2014. There is no public documentation that an in-depth investigation was conducted regarding the explicitly antisemitic imagery or that controls were established to prevent a further occurrence. Indeed much of the offensive imagery remains on BADIL’s website, as noted above.
In 2007, BADIL launched “A Call to Action” to mark 60 years of “Nakba.” The campaign called upon “global civil society” to take part in “BDS, legal actions, media work, and public education and publicity campaigns.” One program sought to enlist journalists “to organize a targeted campaign to expose the lies of AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League and to expose the Jewish and Zionist community’s double standards regarding Nakba & Occupation.” Several large, European-government funded NGOs including Trocaire (Ireland), DanChurchAid (Denmark), and Oxfam Solidarity Belgium co-sponsored these activities.
MIFTAH donors in 2012-13 include : International Republican Institute ( United States ), Norway , NGO Development Centre , United Nations Development Programme, Ireland, United Nations Population Fund, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung ( Germany ), National Endowment for Democracy (US), UN Women, Oxfam Novib ( Netherlands ), Arab Fund, U.S. Consulate and the British Council. In 2013, Miftah also received EUR 70,000 from Ireland.
MIFTAH published on its website an Arabic-language article in response to U.S. President Obama’s support for Israel and his celebration of the Passover Seder, repeating the antisemitic blood libel. The author wrote, “Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between ‘Passover’ and ‘Christian blood’…?!…the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover…” 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.
In the past decade, Christian pro-Palestinian activists have introduced resolutions calling on their respective churches to boycott Israel and divest from companies doing business in or with Israel. Through the use of regressive theological language these groups seek to weaken and disrupt Jewish-Christian relations as a means of diluting Christian support for Israel, particularly in North America.
This trend is the result of a concerted strategy developed by Palestinian Christians to synthesize Christian theology with Palestinian nationalism. The name given to this body of thought is Palestinian Liberation Theology, developed by Rev. Naim Ateek of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center of Jerusalem. This doctrine creates a theological framework for the advancement of the Palestinian nationalist agenda within Christian churches, and simultaneously revives religious antisemitic themes such as supersessionism (replacement theology).
Other Palestinian Christian NGOs (Holy Land Trust, Christ at the Checkpoint in Bethlehem, Kairos Palestine, and others) also promote this agenda.1 In January 2014 the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) published “ Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide ,” a 72-page glossy booklet presented as a theological argument against Zionism. This “study guide” was condemned by Presbyterian and Jewish leaders alike as one that “expresses demonization, distortion and imbalance,” and as “ teaching [Presbyterians] that their Jewish neighbors are inherently racist and prone to abusing the rights of others.”
A radical fringe of Jews participate both in the promotion of Palestinian Liberation Theology and in defending groups such as Sabeel from accusations of antisemitism. Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical Council issued a “ Statement of Support for the Sabeel Institute” that declared, “As rabbis and people of faith, we stand in solidarity with the work of Sabeel.”
Christian Aid is a UK-based charity that claims to facilitate vital humanitarian assistance around the globe. At the same time, Christian Aid’s anti-Israel campaigns display deep hostility towards the Jewish State, which it blames entirely for Palestinian suffering. During the July/August 2014 Gaza conflict, Christian Aid’s disproportionate criticism of Israel reflected a double standard inconsistent with the concept of universal human rights.
For example, Christian Aid released statement that claimed “the scale of destruction and suffering in Gaza is unprecedented; the current crisis should not be a surprise to anyone. It is the result of decades of political failure and continuous Palestinian displacement.” The statement was not only false, it ignored the massive scale of destruction in other contemporaneous conflicts, such as the concurrent violence in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine, and perpetuated the canard that crimes committed by Israel and Jews overshadow similar or worse events elsewhere.
One of Christian Aid’s partners, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Center (and its UK branch, UK Friends of Sabeel) perpetuates theological antisemitism. Sabeel promotes a radical reinterpretation of the Bible based on “liberation theology,” which claims that Palestinians represent a modern-day version of Jesus’ suffering. This rhetoric is used to demonize Israel and Judaism.
Sabeel and Supersessionism
Governments providing funds to Sabeel include the Netherlands (via Dutch church-based aid organizations Kerk in Aktie and ICCO ), Sweden (via Diakonia ), and Canada (via the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace).
In delegitimizing Israel and Zionism, Sabeel’s Palestinian Liberation Theology draws from, and revitalizes, historic Christian anti-Jewish teachings, especially replacement theology and deicide imagery.
Sabeel’s founder Naim Ateek is on record saying or writing the following:
- “We share the Old Testament with Jewish people. And the heart of it, how do we re-interpret the text, is it an exclusive theology of land or an inclusive theology of land… It’s a theology that opens up the whole world. For us Christians ‘God so loved the world’ it doesn’t say ‘God so loved the Jewish people’” (snickers in audience).2
- The “ Jewish religion sees non-Jews as the strangers in the land , without rights… That is why many of our people do not want to have anything to do with God. The god they see before them is a bigot, racist, land grabber, discriminator, prejudiced, hateful killer.. The true God must re-emerge. The God we have come to know in Christ is the God of peace, not war; the God of love, not violence; the God of justice and love, not injustice and hate.”
- “The tragedy of many Zionists today is that they have locked themselves into the nationalist concept of God. They are trapped in it and they will be freed only if they discard their primitive image of God for a more universal one…”33
The Presbyterian Israel Palestine Mission Network, Divestment and Antisemitism
Within various mainline denominations in the U.S., Canada, UK, Europe, South Africa, and Australia are thousands of pro-Palestinian activists who accept and promote Palestinian Liberation Theology. In the last decade, these activists have formed single-issue caucuses within their respective denominations to promote the Palestinian national agenda mainly through attempts at advancing divestment and boycott resolutions and various other initiatives that deny Israel’s right to exist. High-profile church-based campaigns will continue in 2015-2016, with events in the United Church of Christ (June 2015); Episcopal Church (June/July 2015); Presbyterian Church (USA- June 2016); United Church of Canada (April 2015); and Methodist Church of Britain (April 2016).
Previous efforts have been met with varying degrees of success depending on the denomination. However, the greatest impact has been serious friction between Jewish communities and some of these denominations.
An important case in point is the Presbyterian Church (USA). Within the PCUSA, the main group advocating BDS is the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship following suit.
Evidence unearthed from the IPMN Facebook page shows that the group’s leaders demonstrate a strong undercurrent of overt anti-Jewish bigotry. Numerous postings uploaded to this site by IPMN members over a period of two years demonstrate an ongoing pattern of expressions of antisemitism, including: a “Zionist controlled America [has a] desperate lust” for war with Iran; “Jewish interests” are “corrupting” the US government, and the media is “owned” and “operated” by these same “Jewish interests”; the “Christian Holy Land” is “occupied” by the “zionist (sic) instigator”; Racial theories of Jewish origins claiming Ashkenazi Jews are not racially “Semitic,” are actually “Khazars,” and therefore should not be in the Middle East; Israeli Jews should be ethnically cleansed: “Helen Thomas was right, ‘Go back to Russia, Germany…’ Just leave.”; “IRAN! Thank God for them! The only Zionist-free land left on earth.”
The bigotry expressed by IPMN members and tolerated by IPMN leaders and PCUSA staff is a moral failing of the church. Serious steps must be taken by the church to remedy this situation, including an apology to the Jewish community, for the church to be able to claim any moral standing on the Middle East.
NGOs and well-known charities consistently exploit the Christmas season for anti-Israel campaigns. NGO Monitor analysis has shown that these groups use offensive, inflammatory rhetoric in Christmas carols, holiday messages and cards, nativity scenes, and other products. Groups such as Christian Aid (UK), Kairos Palestine , Sabeel, War on Want (UK),Amos Trust, and Adalah-NY have repeatedly used theological themes to advance immoral anti-Israel efforts and, in some cases, antisemitism. Both Kairos Palestine and Sabeel invoke antisemitic imagery by linking their attacks on Israel to the ancient libel blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus (deicide). Other organizations promote the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDSM).
- The Presbyterian Church (USA) representative in the Holy Land, Rev. Kate Taber, wrote in a Christmas 2014 email newsletter: “As we celebrate the birth of the Christ child this season, it is impossible for me not to imagine what his life would have been like, or Mary’s as his mother, had he been born in Bethlehem today.”
- Sabeel’s 2014 annual Christmas message , written by Naim Ateek, compares the historical period in which Jesus lived to current time claiming that the “there are certain similarities between the political conditions in Palestine during the times of Jesus’ birth and the political situation in Palestine today. There is a flagrant occupation that dominates and oppresses people; and there are words that describe what people go through: fear, insecurity, instability, suffering, grief, despair, and other negative feelings that a repressive empire and an Israeli rightwing government can produce.” This is a blatantly antisemitic analogy, equating Israel with the evil Roman Empire.
- UK-based Amos Trust advertises an annual Bethlehem Pack, which contains the following theological references: “Being a Jew living in Nazareth, Jesus would not be allowed by his own leadership to enter Bethlehem. He would have to sneak into Bethlehem ‘illegally’ and maybe get searched at a checkpoint.”
- The 2014 Christmas booklet distributed by Kairos Palestine encourages religiously motivated campaigns against Israel regarding Palestinian prisoners claiming that “As for the prisoners, they suffer the most among all Palestinians. They sacrificed long years of their lives for others.” Kairos Palestine does not mention that many of these prisoners have been convicted of murder and other heinous crimes.
- Nora Carmi, Kairos Palestine’s Coordinator, invoked in this booklet the specter of a nefarious “Jewish Lobby” stating that “We cannot accept that the Jewish lobby intimidates us, cripples us and lulls us into a roaring silence, blocking our conscience into passive inaction.”
- The UK Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) continues to sell a politicized Christmas card related to the conflict. This year’s version includes a sketched version of “Palestine” with death toll statistics and distorted legal claims on the back. PSC is also advertising “Open Bethlehem” screenings, a film that claims Bethlehem is an “imprisoned” town.
Holocaust Rhetoric and Imagery
As highlighted in the EU working definition, “accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust” and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” are forms of antisemitism. Many NGOs engage in these accusations and comparisons and use Nazi or Holocaust rhetoric in their campaigns to describe alleged Israeli abuses toward the Palestinians. Terms such as “ghettos,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” and “concentration camps” frequently appear.
In a June 2007 report, Amnesty International referred to Israel’s security barrier, erected to protect against a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings targeting restaurants, malls, and buses that had killed hundreds and wounded thousands, as “the Wall of Death.” This phrase mirrored an appellation used to describe the notorious site near Block 11 at Auschwitz where thousands of prisoners were summarily executed.
Many NGOs have exploited the 2008-09 and 2014 Gaza Wars to engage in this form of demonization. For instance, On July 28, 2014, the Alternative Information Center (in 2013 funded by the EU, Diakonia [Sweden], Mundubat [Spain], the Geneva Municipality, and CCFD [France]) posted a blog titled “ Renewed Slaughter in Gaza Ghetto ,” casting the war as an opportunity “to get rid of the unnecessary indigenous population” and accusing Israel of “continued ethnic cleansing, a worsening of the apartheid situation, war crimes and being bogged down again and again in a swamp of blood.” Similarly, AIC’s Michael Warschawski issued highly inflammatory remarks during the 2008-09 war, offensively stating:
Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Gabi Ashkenazi and Ehud Olmert don’t you dare show your faces at any memorial ceremony for the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto, Lublin, Vilna or Kishinev…. You are not representing any continuity with the Warsaw Ghetto, because today the Warsaw Ghetto is right in front of you, targeted by your own tanks and artillery, and its name is Gaza….
Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions wrote of Israel’s “warehousing” of Palestinians, which “is worse than apartheid….It is the ultimate form of oppression before actual genocide…it is a form of cultural genocide that can lead to worse” (“Israel to the Palestinians: submit, leave or die,” Redress Online, July 13, 2014). And, Electronic Intifada posted a blog referring to the Israel Defense Force as “the murderous forces engaging in the genocide of the Palestinian people” (“ Ending Zionism is a feminist issue,” Nadia Elia, July 24, 2014).
Al Mezan , a Gaza-based NGO that receives substantial funding from the EU, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Ireland accused Israeli officials of “inciting a ‘holocaust’ (genocide).”
During the public hearings of the Goldstone mission, officials from the Gaza Community Mental Health Program stated that:
With time the Israeli soldier has the image of absolute superiority…. There we see the arrogance of power and he uses it without thinking of humanity at all … inside Israel there is an identification with the aggressor, the Nazis.
We believe that exploiting [the Holocaust] and its consequences in order to legitimize the right of the Jews to establish a state at the expense of the Palestinian people serves to belittle the universal, human, and moral lessons to be learned from this catastrophic event, which concerns the whole of humanity.
In 2010, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) President Emeritus Michael Ratner accused the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum of trying to promote a “narrative” wherein “the Holocaust is used to ask us to wash away the sins of the occupier.”
Human Rights Watch
In August 2014, Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch retweeted on his Twitter feed a highly propagandistic advertisement published in The New York Times and The Guardian equating “Nazi genocide” with “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.” (Professor Deborah Lipstadt refers to this as soft-core denigration of the Holocaust.)
This advertisement was placed in the names of 327 “Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide” who “unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.” In the text, Israel is condemned for “colonialism, racism, and genocide,” and unnamed “right-wing Israelis” are compared to Nazis; it ends with support for BDS in the form of a “full economic, cultural, and academic boycott of Israel.” (The ad was sponsored by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.)
The ad was posted, under the tagline “‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!,” by HRW European Media Director Andrew Stroehlein, and was also tweeted by HRW EU Director Lotte Leicht and retweeted by Roth.
In another instance, in September 2014, Roth issued a statement blamed attacks on Jews in Germany and the rise of antisemitism in Europe on Israel’s conduct during the Gaza War. Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg rebuked Roth for his comment:
It is a universal and immutable rule that the targets of prejudice are not the cause of prejudice. Just as Jews (or Jewish organizations, or the Jewish state) do not cause anti-Semitism to flare, or intensify, or even to exist, neither do black people cause racism, nor gay people homophobia, nor Muslims Islamophobia. Like all prejudices, anti-Semitism is not a rational response to observable events; it is a manifestation of irrational hatred. Its proponents justify their anti-Semitism by pointing to the (putatively offensive or repulsive) behavior of their targets, but this does not mean that major figures in the world of human-rights advocacy should accept these pathetic excuses as legitimate.
HRW’s Director of its Middle East and North Africa Division, Sarah Leah Whitson, has also exhibited similar animus and bias. Whitson’s Twitter account includes comments such as:
- #Netanyahu vengeance in action: RT @guardian Israel destroys #Gaza buildings, Palestine teen +shot dead
- When is magic nondemocratic line crossed? Already there @bennunanat: Peres at Rabin Square: Israel cannot remain democratic without peace;
- not first time or first war either: #Israel deliberately attacking medical workers in #Gaza, Amnesty says http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/israel-deliberately-attacking-medical-workers-gaza-amnesty-says …
Like Roth, Whitson frequently relied upon fringe sources that frequently traffic in bizarre anti-Israel conspiracy theories. She has called Israel “medieval,” has expressed extreme antagonism towards the US Jewish community, and praised demagogues like Norman Finkelstein (author of a book trafficking in antisemitic stereotypes entitled “The Holocaust Industry”), remarking, “I continue to have tremendous respect and admiration for him, because as you probably know, making Israeli abuses the focus of one’s life work is a thankless but courageous task that may well end up leaving all of us quite bitter.” In 2009, Whitson invoked an antisemitic canard while fundraising in Saudi Arabia, citing the need to counter pro-Israel “pressure groups.”
In February 2015, Whitson appeared to equate the 2014 Gaza War to Nazi Genocide:
Sarah Leah Whitson @sarahleah1
@BBCKimGhattas @DRovera @HolocaustMuseum @BBCNewsUS should also show pics of death and destruction in #Gaza
12:40 PM – 5 Feb 2015
Prominent journalists and commentators widely criticized Whitson for her actions. Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the prominent Washington Institute also commented, “Sorry – @HolocaustMuseum shd be reserved for genocide. To include Gaza is insult to real genocide victims.”
Roth’s and Whitson’s bias against Israel and their wider moral failures are consistent with other expressions of extreme hostility, as demonstrated in numerous examples over the past several years, including:
- HRW’s “senior military expert” and author of many reports on Israel was exposed as obsessed with Nazi memorabilia;
- Whitson was responsible for marketing the Qaddafi regime as “human rights reformers”;
- Ken Roth’s denial that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad engaged in incitement to genocide, claiming that he was merely engaging in “advocacy” for genocide instead;
- The NGO appointed a suspected senior activist in the PFLP terrorist organization to its Mid-East advisory board;
- HRW’s “Emergencies Director” was exposed making prejudicial statements about Israel on a secret Facebook group, including commenting on a report as “typical IDF lies.”
Double Standards and the Durban Strategy
Beyond classical and theological antisemitism, NGOs also use rhetoric that violates antisemitism “with regard to the state of Israel,” as appear in the U.S. and EU definitions – as shown in the overt examples presented below. Israel’s self-defense actions against terrorist groups such as Hamas, as in the 2014 Gaza war, are often the trigger for these accusations.
In this context a wide range of NGOs delegitimize and demonize Israel, with frequent accusations of “war crimes,” violations of international law, “indiscriminate killings,” “targeting civilians,” apartheid, and racism, in which the context of terror is erased and Israeli is singled out for obsessive condemnation. Their reporting on Israel far exceeds output on any other conflict area, including Syria, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, and Colombia.
War on Want
War on Want (WoW) is a UK-registered charity that conducts ongoing political campaigns that demonize Israel and undermine its right to self-defense.
Throughout the July/August 2014 Gaza conflict, WoW consistently demonized Israel and denied the basic concepts of human rights for Israelis or Jews. In a blatant double-standard, WoW erased the context of Palestinian rocket fire, terror, and murder of Jews, but accused Israeli leaders of “murderous assaults” on the Palestinian people, as well as “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” and “ war crimes.” In this way, WoW perpetuated the notion that actions committed by Israel are always criminal and that Palestinians lack moral agency for their crimes.
In July 2014, with antisemitic tensions already growing in the UK , and despite an increase in Palestinian terrorism against Jews (in particular the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers), WoW launched a campaign against Israel’s security barrier. Erasing the central role of the barrier in protecting the right to life of civilians in Israel, the campaign featured a short film claiming that the “Wall… is the most barbaric inhumane, instrument that I have managed to ramble.”
Headquartered in London, Amnesty International’s frequent and disproportionate condemnations of Israel contribute significantly to the climate of Jewish demonization in the UK. Amnesty’s statements and publications during the July/August 2014 Gaza conflict disproportionately single out Israel for condemnation, misrepresenting the complexity of the conflict, while at the same time ignoring Hamas’ actions and the terror group’s antisemitic charter.
Amnesty’s statements were then used to fuel anti-Israel protests that contributed to threats and intimidation of UK Jewry . In addition, Amnesty has yet to issue a single report or official statement in the past decade regarding the rising tide of antisemitism in Europe or the UK.
Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC)
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is a leader and chief proponent of BDS and anti-Israel campaigns in the UK, which frequently invokes the Israel apartheid libel. Although PSC claims to be anti-Zionist and not antisemitic, it was a primary organizer of August 1, 2014 demonstrations that specifically targeted Jewish-owned TESCO and Sainsbury’s Stores. In a blatant display of Jew-hatred, PSC-affiliated demonstrators destroyed kosher food items at the stores. In fear of further destruction of kosher food products and the possible targeting of Jewish customers, store managers subsequently removed all kosher food . The fact that Israeli products not displayed as specifically kosher were not targeted, gives the impression that protestors specifically targeted products associated with Jews.
BDS and Double Standards
The EU definition of antisemitism lists “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation,” while excluding “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country.”
BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns, a central outgrowth of the 2001 Durban Conference, are one manifestation of this form of antisemitism. BDS is rooted in immoral double standards that single out and condemn Israel as a pariah state and collectively punish Israelis. BDS also rejects the very existence of Israel as a Jewish entity, seeking to eliminate Jewish self-determination.
In addition to these double standards of action, NGOs advance double standards in their one-sided condemnations of and disproportionate focus on Israel. One example raised in the U.S. government definition is “Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations,” such as the NGO-driven resolutions and “fact-finding” missions of UN Human Rights Council (i.e., the Goldstone report and the Schabas commission). Similarly, systematic NGO Monitor research has shown that, for years, Human Rights Watch devoted disproportionate resources to allegations and politicized attacks against Israel relative to other Middle Eastern countries.
The Electronic Intifada website is one of the most prolific purveyors of new antisemitism in the world. One of Electronic Intifada’s main benefactors has been the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), a Dutch inter-church development organization. In 2012, the Dutch Government provided ICCO with €82 million (84% of total budget). ICCO also received €5,310,874 from the EU, meaning approximately 90% of ICCO’s budget is from government entities.
Between 2006 and 2009, €150,000 was provided by the Dutch government to Electronic Intifada from ICCO. In November 2010, after NGO Monitor revealed this funding, Dutch FM Uri Rosenthal told the Jerusalem Post, “I will look into the matter personally.” In 2010, ICCO provided another €50,000, claiming it was “support from private funds.” Rosenthal dismissed this as “disingenuous.” In violation of transparency standards, both ICCO and Electronic Intifada have refused to disclose funding amounts since 2010.
Ali Abunimah, the founder of Electronic Intifada is also a leader in promoting antisemitism on Twitter. In line with the classic antisemitic trope of warmongering Jews, Abunimah tweeted (April 8, 2015) a cartoon portraying a hook-nosed Jew supporting a member of ISIS trying to kill a Palestinian. He has also tweeted that Zionism “is one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today,” claiming that it “dehumanizes its victims, denies their history, and has a cult-like worship of ethnoracial purity.” He also wrote “That is something Zionism shares with anti-Semitism, a disdain for actual Jewish culture and life as it existed,” and “ Zionism is a distortion of Judaism. We must not blame Jews.”
Holocaust references appear frequently in his comments. He calls Gaza a “ghetto for surplus non-Jews,” compares the Israeli press to “ Der Sturmer,” and claims “Supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.” He calls Gaza a “concentration camp” and repeated a claim that IDF statements are the words “of a Nazi.”
In a recent example among of countless others, the Electronic Intifada provides a stage for known anti-Israel and antisemitic academic Steven Salaita, who has tweeted such accusations such as “Israel tested weapons on the people of Gaza,” and that Israeli leaders “derive pleasure from killing Palestinians.”
Palestinian Forum in Britain
The Palestinian Forum in Britain (The Forum) is an independent organization that claims to serve the British Palestinian community and promote the Palestinian cause. Among its general principles, the Forum believes that all of Palestine, including the modern State of Israel, is an Arab Islamic land. The group repudiates any Jewish connection to Israel and denies the right of the Jewish State to exist. In conjunction with these antisemitic principles, The Forum’s website uses Nazi imagery , specifically a Jewish Star on Nazi armbands to depict IDF soldier’s action in Gaza.
The Forum members were prevalent at demonstrations during the July/August 2014 Gaza conflict. These demonstrators called for the Jewish State to be replaced by Palestine “from the river to the sea.”
Conclusions and Recommendations
Given the extensive involvement of NGOs in promoting antisemitism and governmental and UN support of these activities, NGO Monitor urges governments and other decision makers to adopt the following recommendations:
- Governments must enact clear policies regarding antisemitism and establishing where campaigns regarding Israel cross the line into antisemitism.
- Governments must convey clear guidelines to NGO grantees regarding their activities to prevent support for antisemitism.
- Funding mechanisms for NGOs must have full transparency, including public access to the decision making processes, documents, and all evaluations.
- Funding for NGOs engaging in antisemitism should be immediately halted, and the NGO should be disqualified from future funding.
- Governments should take an immediate and comprehensive overhaul of their funding to NGOs operating the Arab-Israeli conflict to ensure current funding is not being used to promote anti-Semitism. The Jewish community must be included in this process.
- This complements BDS strategists who view the churches as a key target for promoting the BDS agenda: “Religious institutions are seen in many communities as embodying important moral and ethical principles… Not only will successful divestment campaigns (in the churches) financially weaken the Occupation, but will raise both the public profile and legitimacy of the BDS campaign.”
- Sabeel Conference: “A Time for Truth; A Time for Action”, First Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo, CA – March 5 – 6, 2010 (verbatim transcript).
- Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, Orbis Books, 1989.
Images from Badil’s Al-Awda Nakba caricature competition posted on Badil’s website