- NGO Monitor letter to Anna Lindh Foundation on its support for Al Quds Underground, November 10, 2009
- Reply from Anna Lindh Foundation, November 29, 2009
November 10, 2009
Assistant to the Director
Anna Lindh Foundation
RE: Support for Al Quds Underground
Al Quds Underground, a Palestinian program designed “to create a secret space for artistic expression,” claims to receive funding from the Anna Lindh Foundation. Regarding an October 30, 2009 event held by this group, an article in the Jerusalem Post reported:
“Al-Quds Underground’s artistic director Merlijn Twaalfhoven of Amsterdam then told me, along with some Israeli peace activists who had arrived, that we were not welcome…‘The local people told [Twaalfhoven] months ago that Israelis cannot go. Our team [of 12 Dutch activists and eight artists] had to promise that we would not allow peaceful Israelis to come.’” (http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1257455208093&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull)
We will be publishing an analysis of this program and its funding sources on November 17, 2009. In order to accurately portray your support, we have the following questions:
- Are you aware of the decision not to allow Israelis to participate?
- Does this correspond to Anna Lindh Foundation’s funding policies and guidelines?
- Will this lead to a review of funding for this project?
A prompt response would be appreciated.
NGO Monitor (www.ngo-monitor.org) was founded to promote critical debate and accountability regarding the political activities of non-governmental organizations. We have over 11,000 subscribers, who receive our internet research reports, as well as in-depth monographs examining the funding, agendas and credibility of NGOs claiming human rights and humanitarian agendas that are active in the Arab-Israel conflict zone. NGO Monitor’s reports are quoted frequently in the press, academic publications, by NGO officials and donors, and in governmental and parliamentary discussions.
November 29, 2009
Thank you for your letter and the e-mail sent to us earlier this month.
The Anna Lindh Foundation is indeed one of the funders of the Al Quds Underground project managed by La Vie sur Terre, actually a Dutch organisation whose artistic director is Merlijn van Twaalfhoven. For more information about this organisation and their work, this is a link to their website: www.laviesurterre.nl.
There is a small point of clarification about this project: it seeks to create an "intimate" and not a "secret" space for artistic expression. This is in line with the project’s methodology to make use of homes and other private places as venues for the activities. Perhaps the Jerusalem Post journalist had misunderstood Mr. Twaalfhoven concerning this point.
Concerning your specific questions, I will answer them one by one:
1) The Foundation had not been informed of the decision to exclude Israelis on the particular night when the journalist attended, until after the event. Please note that according to our communication with the project leader, Israelis had been allowed and were present during the first night. However, some of them had caused a disruption, and this was the reason given by the project leader for not allowing Israelis into the homes the second night was taken.
2) The Foundation’s policy when it comes to funding projects is to support projects that promote diversity and dialogue in the Euro-Med region. A major factor that drew the selection committee to this project was that one of its main objectives was to ‘celebrate the rich diversity of Jerusalem’. For more information on our mission and funding guidelines, please visit our website: www.euromedalex.org
3) When the Foundation evaluates the projects that have been implemented with funds received from the Foundation through the Call for Proposals, an important factor is the extent to which the project has realised its objectives, the success of implementation and the project outputs. As a result, we will take this issue into account when preparing the evaluation of this project, taking into account the information and points of view presented by both the Jerusalem post article and the project leader as well as the local context and constraints where the action takes place.
I hope that this answers all your questions. Please acknowledge receipt of this message.
Susanne Abou Ghaida