Click here to read NGO Monitor’s analysis of the SICA-funded Al Quds Underground

1. NGO Monitor letter to SICA on its support for Al Quds Underground, November 10, 2009

2. Reply from SICA, November 12, 2009

3. Response from NGO Monitor, November 18, 2009

1. NGO Monitor letter to SICA on its support for Al Quds Underground

November 10, 2009

Paul Mosterd
Managing Director, SICA

RE: Support for Al Quds Underground

Dear Mr. Mosterd,

Al Quds Underground, a Palestinian program designed “to create a secret space for artistic expression,” claims to receive funding fromSICA. 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.’”

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 SICA’s funding policies and guidelines?
  • Will this lead to a review of funding for this project?

A prompt response would be appreciated.


Gerald Steinberg
NGO Monitor

NGO Monitor ( 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.

2.  Reply from SICA

Dear Mr Steinberg,

SICA is a cultural organization and co-funded this project on the basis of an appraisal of the artistic merits of the proposal. We consider that the artistic objectives of the project have been achieved, so there is no reason to reconsider our funding decision.

Yours sincerely,

Beate Gerlings
deputy director

3.  Response from NGO Monitor

Dear Ms. Gerlings,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

As the incident involving Al Quds Underground demonstrates, even purely cultural events can have detrimental political ramifications.

We hope that you will explore expanded guidelines for SICA grants, beyond “artistic merits” alone. The damaged caused by NGOs funded by SICA is extensive.

Gerald Steinberg
NGO Monitor