On May 9, 2017, the Jerusalem Post published an opinion piece by Simonetta Costanzo (“Violence or Nonviolence: That is the Question”), president of the Spanish NGO NOVACT (International Institute for Nonviolent Action). Writing in reply to a news article (“Report: European States Fund NGOs That Incite to Violence Against Israelis,” Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2017) featuring NGO Monitor’s research, Costanzo alleged that the article included false information concerning NOVACT’s legitimization of violence, its funding, and its partners.
Examination of the details shows that, in contrast to her aims, Costanzo confirms NGO Monitor’s claims that NOVACT whitewashes violence.
Claim: “NOVACT has worked for more than 20 years to confront all forms of violence. NOVACT does not support any form of violence in any part of the world.”
Fact: In one example, a 2015 report, NOVACT stated that “The right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli military occupation is not only a moral right but also a recognized right under customary international law.” The term “resistance” is widely used by Palestinians to refer to violent attacks against Israeli security forces and civilians.
NOVACT’s longtime Palestinian partner organization and grantee, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committees (PSCC), has organized protests that have turned violent. PSCC’s Twitter activity repeatedly employs “martyr” rhetoric and posts photos of demonstrators hurling rocks.
In response to clashes with the IDF, Head of PSCC, Munther Amira, told Israeli media outlet Ynet: “…we are here to protest and to say that the occupation and terror are two sides of the same coin. We want to tell the world that Palestinians deal with organized terror. We will continue to cope in order to struggle against the Nazi occupation” (NGO Monitor translation).
In addition, Manal Tamimi, a board member of PSCC has employed violent and virulently antisemitic rhetoric and imagery on social media:
Claim: “Amira and Tamimi traveled to Spain to participate in the definition of a Europe-Mediterranean Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.”
Fact: The rhetoric of Amira and Tamimi, as noted above, is paradigmatic of violent extremism, and belies the pretense of human rights. The conference – titled “Towards a New Paradigm, Preventing Violent Extremism” – was co-organized by NOVACT and funded by the European Union.
Claim: “Amira and Tamimi were never arrested nor had problems with Spanish authorities.”
Fact: A statement published on NOVACT’s own website decries the “non-professional and racist anti-terrorism alert that was activated in our city, Barcelona” upon Amira and Tamimi’s arrival. The statement attaches a PSCC press release declaring: “Extremist Jewish organizations put pressure on the Spanish foreign affairs ministry to boycott PSCC. As well they filed a complain (sic) to the Spanish police to issue a warrant arrest for Mr. Munther Amira… the Zionists lobby attacked me and launched a terrorist alert after they issued a complaint to the Spanish police against me.”
Claim: “The article [citing NGO Monitor research] affirms that NOVACT ‘in 2015 received some €1.3 million in funding from Spain, the UN and the EU for activities related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.’ This is also false: the overall audited budget of NOVACT in 2015 was €1.1m for its work all across the Euro-Mediterranean region.”
Fact: NGO Monitor calculated €1.3 million based on NOVACT’s 2015 annual report and official government documents. The sum does not refer to NOVACT’s expenses, cited by Costanzo, but to public grants received by NOVACT. Any discrepancy is due to the difference between cash and accrual accounting. Since the funds may have been used in other years, the full amounts would not necessarily be reflected in the audited budget for 2015.