On April 19, 2017, NGO Monitor distributed a new report documenting the highly disturbing pattern of European government funding to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that legitimize violent attacks against civilians and incite violence. Nearly 3,000 parliamentarians from the European Union, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland were contacted.
As detailed in the report, “Whitewashing “Resistance” – Human Rights Funding to Organizations Blurring the Lines Between Violence and Nonviolence,” significant amounts of European government funding are allocated to European, Palestinian, and Israeli organizations that repeatedly manipulate human rights rhetoric to denigrate security concerns and legitimize violence. Some of these groups also have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a designated terrorist organization in the EU, US, Canada, and Israel. The messages propagated by these NGOs directly contradict the foreign policy goals of their funders, and resonate in a global context of rising populism that rewards extremism, fear-mongering, and incitement.
NGO Monitor received a number of responses to the report from European parliamentarians:
Czech KDU-CDL lawmaker Tomáš Zdechovský (EPP), a member of the Budget Control Committee, stated, “The NGO Monitor report detailing multiple examples of EU and European government funding of organisations promoting blatant antisemitism, incitement and the promotion of terrorism is very disturbing. Better cooperation on the parliamentary level between Europe and our Israeli colleagues is needed in order to ensure that organisations that exacerbate the conflict in the Middle East are not funded by European taxpayer money. Instead, as the largest donor to many of these organisations, we must demand greater transparency and accountability by beneficiaries of European financial aid, and we must choose our partners more carefully. Europe can serve as a positive force for peace and dialogue in the region, but to do so we cannot continue to circumvent coordination with our allies in Israel by funding such one-sided and hostile organizations that propagate hate.”
MEP Fulvio Martusciello, Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) said, “The NGO Monitor report sheds light on a number of cases of shocking manipulation of information and human rights, legitimising the use of violence, sharing messages of incitement and even promoting terrorism. There is a definite need to be vigilant regarding which NGOs are financed with European funds in order to make sure that EU values and the respect of human rights are defended. This implies being unapologetic about demanding transparency and accountability to the beneficiaries of EU funds and consider reviewing the way in which our local partners are chosen. Furthermore, a stronger dialogue with our Israeli counterpart is certainly paramount in order to make sure that our input is constructive towards a safe and peaceful future in the Middle East.”
German MP Michaela Engelmeier sent out a press release stating, “Language is an important tool in the political arena and is therefore often abused. A report published today by NGO Monitor shows precisely this problem in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Attacks by Palestinians on Israel and Israeli civilians are increasingly portrayed by Palestinian NGOs as resistance to the ‘Israeli occupation’. The intent being to create a picture of oppressed Palestinians who lead a just struggle against their occupiers. However, the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and the knife attacks on civilians are ultimately nothing but indiscriminate terror attacks against innocent people. It is especially scandalous that many of these NGOs are co-financed by German and European development funds. These include, for example, the Palestinian NGO PASSIA, which openly supports the BDS movement and presents knife attacks on Israelis as a ‘youth uprising’. Together with its report, NGO Monitor is calling on 3,000 European parliamentarians to develop guidelines that effectively prevent the misuse of public development funds to promote hatred. Only in this way can development cooperation achieve its goal: a good and peaceful life for all people.”
Swiss MP Christian Imark stated, “I think it is extremely important that we as parliamentarians be guided not only by our own government, but also by independent sources with regards to the way our taxpayer money is spent and its impact. I share NGO Monitor’s view that there should be more cross-border cooperation on these issues. Additionally, it is important to support the work of an international and independent organization like NGO Monitor, whose task is to reveal hatred, violence and ties to terror.”
Tuve Skånberg, Swedish MP for the Christian Democrats and member of the Committee on the Constitution expressed, “It is unacceptable that Swedish tax money is financing incitement to violence.”
One of the most illustrative examples in the report is Manal Tamimi, an employee of the EU-funded Palestinian organization Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC). Tamimi frequently utilizes antisemitic and violent rhetoric and imagery on social media. In August 2015, Tamimi tweeted, “I do hate Israel ,i (sic) wish a thrid Intefada (sic) coming soon and people rais (sic) up and kills all these zionist settlers everywhere.” In September 2015, on Yom Kippur (a fast day and the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar), Tamimi tweeted: “Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore day by drinking Palestinian bloods, yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end.”
Far from condemning her actions, WCLAC has instead filed a complaint with the United Nations over the “Frequent targeting of Palestinian human rights defender: Mrs. Manal Tamimi.” WCLAC received, together with two other partner organizations, €2.5 million from the European Union’s East Jerusalem Programme for a project ending April 2019. In February 2017, Tamimi was invited to speak at an EU-funded conference in Barcelona on “preventing violent extremism.” This is a clear example of the failure of the EU mechanisms to examine the activities of NGO grantees.