"Ethnic Cleansing" Rhetoric at NGO Events in the European Parliament
On October 17, 2013, the Socialists and Democrats group (S&D) of the European Parliament sponsored a seminar titled “Bedouins in the Naqab/Negev: Dreams and Nightmare.” A banner featured at the event accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing.”
Representatives of Israeli NGOs (Negev Coexistence Forum – funded by New Israel Fund (NIF) and Switzerland; Alternative Information Center – list of funders removed from website) participated in the seminar, but official representatives of the Israeli government were not allowed to appear. The Israeli Embassy to the EU condemned the event.
In response to criticism, S&D group head Hannes Swoboda denied that “S&D Group’s communications [used] the expression ‘ethnic cleansing’.”
However, NGO Monitor research shows that members of the S&D group have indeed referred to Israel’s Bedouin policy as “ethnic cleansing.”
On June 20, 2013, the parliamentary Subcommittee on Human Rights held a plenary session regarding “the human rights situation of the Bedouin and other Israeli minorities.” Similar to the S&D seminar, Israeli NGOs representing a very narrow perspective (Negev Coexistence Forum; Adalah – funded by NIF, Switzerland, and EU) spoke, but Israeli government officials did not appear. In response to a Negev Coexistence Forum allegation that Israel practices “apartheid,” S&D MEP David Martin stated:
“I would go further than our guests describe it as apartheid. I don’t use this word lightly but I think what we are seeing taking place is ethnic cleansing. We are seeing a whole region being cleared of a particular ethnic minority so that another ethnic minority religious group can dominate the region. So that is ethnic cleansing under any definition.” (video)