October 26, 2015
Re: AusAid Funding for “Medical Aid for Palestinians”
H. E. Dave Sharma
Australian Ambassador to Israel
Dear Ambassador Sharma,
I am writing regarding the pro-Palestinian advocacy organisation known as Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
According to documents submitted by MAP to the UK Charity Commission and according to reports on the organization’s website, MAP received a grant of £39,000 from AusAid in 2014. These funds were allocated for “monitoring human rights violations in Bedouin communities” in the Jordan Valley.
MAP has a very problematic record on a number of issues, as documented by NGO Monitor, including the fact that the founder, Swee Ang Chai, promotes the racism and antisemitism of David Duke. MAP also uses charitable funds to place divisive advertisements exploiting medical claims in the media, and brings British members of parliament on tours of the West Bank which present systematically false and distorted versions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Regarding the MAP project funded by AusAid, we note that among the partner organizations listed are groups with alleged ties to terrorism:
Islah Charitable Society1
- Islah Charitable Society (ICS) has been closely linked to Hamas and as a result is recognized as a terrorist organization by Israel.
- ICS was founded by Jamal Muhammed Tawil, allegedly a Hamas member arrested by Israel in 2002 for his role in planning bombing attacks against Israeli civilians.
- ICS has been used as conduit for funneling funds to Hamas, both for carrying out terrorist attacks as well as for other purposes.
- UAWC is identified by Fatah as an official PFLP “affiliate,” and by USAID as the “agricultural arm” of the PFLP. According to academic scholar Glenn E. Robinson, UAWC was founded in 1986 by “agronomists loosely affiliated with the PFLP.”
- According to a Shurat HaDin document, UAWC “was established by the PFLP; is controlled by senior PFLP operatives; makes its assets available to the PFLP; and acts in coordination with and to advance the interests of the PFLP (including active involvement in PFLP political activity).”
Additionally, MAP’s partners in the Jordan Valley include organizations that publicly promote the anti-Israel BDS strategy, such as Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee(PARC) and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS).
We would appreciate the response of the Australian government to this information.
Professor Gerald M. Steinberg
President, NGO Monitor
1For a broader analysis of the connections between Islah Charitable Society, Jamal Tawil and Hamas, see Mathew Levitt, Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2006) and Jimmy Gurule, Unfunding Terror: The Legal Response to the Funding of Global Terrorism, (Edwar Elgar Publishing, 2008)
To view the response of the Ambassador, click here.
Text appears below:
January 4, 2016
Professor G. M. Steinberg
1 Ben-Maimon Blvd.
Jerusalem, Israel 92262
Re: Australian Funding- Medical Aid for Palestinians
Dear Professor Steinberg
Thank you for your letter of 26 October outlining your concerns with Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
I can confirm that the Australian government provided funding of AUD 99,972 under our Human Rights Small Grants Scheme (HRSGS) for a Medical Aid for Palestinians activity entitled “Strengthening the monitoring and reporting mechanisms for human rights violations of marginalised Bedouin communities in Area C”. For your information, this project ended in April 2015.
As you will be aware, the Bedouin communities in the West Bank are amongst the poorest and marginalised of Palestinians. Our support for MAP under the HRSGS reflects their proper engagement with these communities, particularly in relation to healthcare. Should we ever provide support for MAP in the future I can assure you we will ensure your report and the concerns raised therein are fully considered.
The Australian Government takes very seriously the issue of aid funds being diverted to fund terrorist activity. Our agreements with partners include specific clauses dealing with counter terrorism. Specifically, it is Australian Government policy to ensure that none of our funds are used, directly or indirectly, to provide support to individuals or entities associated with terrorism. Our funding agreements with our partners, including Medical Aid for Palestinians, commit them to taking appropriate steps (related to due diligence re beneficiaries and partners, and transparency and accountability) to ensure our funding is not used to provide support to terrorist organisations and they are obligated to inform us immediately if they believe this to be the case.
I note your comments in respect of the Islah Charitable Society (ICS). As you may be aware, ICS is not a proscribed terrorist organisation in Australia, the United Kingdom, or the United States. If you have specific evidence that Australian aid funds have been diverted through ICS to a proscribed terrorist organisation we will act on this immediately.
Similarly, you may be aware that the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) is a registered NGO with the Government of Israel. The Government of Israel does not consider UAWC a terrorist entity and has registered the Jerusalem-based office of UAWC as a not-for-profit organisation since 1996. Again, UAWC is not a proscribed terrorist organisation in Australia, the United Kingdom, or the United States. As above, the Australian Government will act immediately if there is specific evidence our funds have been misused.
The Australian Government does not support the BDS movement. It is a condition of Australian support to NGOs in the Palestinian Territories that no Australian funds are used to support BDS activities. We ensure our funding partners are well aware of this.
Thank you for bringing these matters to my attention. As a strong friend of Israel, I hope Australia’s position on these issues is clear.
With my best personal wishes for 2016.