Caritas Switzerland stands by Badil and the "right of return" in correspondence with NGO Monitor
On August 28, 2008 NGO Monitor wrote to Caritas Switzerland regarding its support for Badil, given this NGO’s "distortions of the Palestinian refugee issue… its demonization and delegitimization of Israel" and "misrepresentation of international law." Juerg Krummenacher, Caritas Switzerland’s Director, responded in detail on September 4, 2008, explaining that Caritas does not provide "any financial contribution" to Badil, but "[t]he reason for the cooperation with Badil is that this NGO advocates by applying international law including UN resolutions for durable solutions for the Palestine refugees." Krummenacher also pointed out Caritas’ cooperation with two Swiss Jewish NGOs.
NGO Monitor replied on September 16, 2008, emphasizing Badil’s manipulation of international law and UN resolutions to bolster its rejectionist position and highlighting Caritas’ effective support for the one-state solution. However, Krummenacher then withdrew from the discussion, stating "I have explained our policy and I have nothing to add to this."
- NGO Monitor’s letter to Caritas Switzerland
- Reply from Caritas Swtizerland’s Director, Juerg Krummenacher
- Response with further questions from Sarah Mandel, NGO Monitor
- Final Reply from Caritas Swtizerland’s Director, Juerg Krummenacher
Director: Dr. h.c. Jürg Krummenacher
Research and Policy Division: Dr. Carlo Knöpfel
August 31, 2008
A recent news report (see "Charity pulls aid to German group for suggesting strike on Iran," August 3, 2008, JTA) discussed Caritas Switzerland’s support of the Palestinian NGO, Badil. Caritas’ website also details your membership of the "Forum for Human Rights in Israel/ Palestine," which "collaborates with experts and organizations like Badil."
NGO Monitor’s detailed research on Badil documents this NGO’s distortions of the Palestinian refugee issue, and its demonization and delegitimization of Israel. Badil regularly misrepresents international law to accuse Israel of "apartheid," "war crimes and crimes against humanity;" and its website erases the historical context of the 1947/8 war to claim that
"sources of flight [of Palestinian refugees] include indiscriminate attacks on civilians, massacres, looting, destruction of property (including entire villages), and forced expulsion. Israeli military forces adopted ‘shoot to kill’ policies along the armistice lines to prevent the return of refugees…A smaller number of Palestinians have become refugees due to policies and practices akin to low-intensity transfer."
Badil refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state while actively promoting the "right of return" in order to destroy the Jewish character of Israel. Ignoring UN Resolution 181 which guarantees a Jewish state in Mandatory Palestine, Badil’s website declares "The UN has no obligation to protect or safeguard the Zionist character of Israel, particularly in its demographic aspect." Badil was also a signatory to an August 2002 call to boycott Israel, including an endorsement of the NGO Program of Action conceived at the 2001 Durban conference.
The JTA report described Caritas’ cessation of funding to Wadi e.V NGO, because of statements which "from [Caritas’] perspective intensify the Mideast [sic] conflict." Does Caritas intend to reconsider its links with Badil, in light of the evidence presented here?
I look forward to hearing from you
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Dear Mrs. Mandel,
Thank you for your mail of 31st August. We will try to clarify the issues you addressed in your mail.
First of all, we want to let you know that Caritas Switzerland has never supported Badil with any financial contribution. Caritas Switzerland is, together with many other Swiss NGO’s, a member of the Forum for Human Rights in Israel/Palestine. This Forum is advocating for a peaceful solution of the conflict in Israel/ Palestine. The Forum is working with different local NGOs, among them Badil. Caritas Switzerland and the Forum are rejecting any form of terrorist attacks like suicidal bombings, disproportional preemptive use of force or reprisals. We do not cooperate with any organizations which deny the right of existence of Israel.
The reason for the cooperation with Badil is that this NGO advocates by applying international law including UN resolutions for durable solutions for the Palestine refugees. We believe that the question of the right of return has to be addressed for a sustainable peaceful solution of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Like the ‘Geneva Initiative’ we believe that there is need for a permanent and complete resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem, under which refugees will be entitled to compensation for their refugee status and for loss of property, and will have the right to return. The refugees could also choose to remain in their present host countries, or relocate to third countries.
We would also like to let you know that we are working directly with several Israeli partners in Switzerland and abroad. In Switzerland, for example, we have a regular cooperation with the “Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund (SIG)“or the „Verein für jüdische Fürsorge (VSJF)“. Caritas Switzerland also supports the initiative of the „Swiss Peace Award“, a price which will be given to a selected, outstanding Israeli peace initiative at the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Israel.
Furthermore, we want to inform you that we are not suddenly pulling out our aid of the WADI project. We are still supporting the project in Northern Iraq as agreed upon in our contract with WADI in February this year.
We appreciate your effort to contact us and ask these questions directly.
September 16, 2008
Dear Mr. Krummenacher,
Thank you for your detailed response to our query about Caritas’ relationship with Badil. While we are pleased to hear that Caritas does not fund Badil, we would like to bring further evidence to your attention, which challenges some of Caritas’ assumptions about this NGO and the conflict.
Firstly, you stated that Caritas works with Badil because it "advocates by applying international law including UN resolutions for durable solutions for the Palestine refugees." This is highly inaccurate, and does not justify your funding for an organization that promotes conflict and is a major source of the Palestinian rejectionism that prevents compromise and a just solution.
Our previous letter included specific evidence of Badil’s distortions of obligations related to UN claims and Israel’s legitimacy – indeed, only Security Council resolutions under Article 7 are consider to have the weight of international law. NGO Monitor has also presented clear evidence of Badil’s selective and totally distorted references to UN resolutions, in order to bolster its damaging political position on Palestinian refugees. For example, Badil claims that General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948) states: "refugees wishing to return to their homes…should be permitted to do so." Quoting selectively, BADIL purposely excludes significant parts of this Resolution which actually states "that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property…Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees and payment of compensation…" (emphasis added).
Indeed the "right of return" as promoted by Badil, which is inconsistent with this 60 year old resolution, is widely understood to be veiled campaign for a “one state solution,” which would mean the end of Jewish sovereign equality. The so-called Geneva Initiative reflects this understanding, calling for a "right of return" to a Palestinian State, but not to within Israel’s borders. This is not Badil’s policy at all.
Yet your previous letter seems to ignore these crucial facts, and suggests that the continued support of Badil contradicts Caritas’ commitment "not [to] cooperate with any organizations which deny the right of existence of Israel." (Badil further promotes the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, through its endorsement of apartheid rhetoric and continued advocacy for Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions.)
In light of this evidence, we would ask you again if you would consider your relationship with Badil, and whether your position on the "right of return" is compatible with your desire to promote a "sustainable peaceful solution of the Israel/Palestine conflict"?
We thank you in advance for this frank discussion, and look forward to your response.
September 16, 2008
Dear Mrs. Mandel,
I have received your message and taken note of it. I have explained our policy and I have nothing to add to this.