- The Swedish government funds numerous Israeli, Palestinian, and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Embassy in Tel Aviv, and indirectly by outsourcing to Swedish church groups and aid organizations such as Diakonia.
- In 2018, Sweden provided approximately $19.1 million to NGOs involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many of these NGOs and church aid organizations are involved in anti-peace activities such as incitement, BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions), and legal attacks (“lawfare”) against Israel. Some of these groups also have reported ties to terrorist organizations.
- In August 2018, OmVärlden, an online magazine owned by Sida, published 20 articles making numerous false accusations about NGO Monitor. The articles consisted almost entirely of innuendo, factual inaccuracies, and antisemitic motifs reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (spider web, conspiracy theories).
- In 2013-2017, Israeli and Palestinian NGOs also received direct Swedish funding through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Secretariat), a joint mechanism for funding NGOs, created by the governments of Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland.1
- Sida paid $66,490 in 2014-2016 for an evaluation, “Research to better promote human rights in Israel/Palestine.” The evaluation was written by Jessica Montell, a member of the Secretariat’s Reference Group and, at the time former executive director of a Sida-funded NGO (B’Tselem). The Swedish government failed to respond to NGO Monitor’s concerns about conflicts of interest in this evaluation.
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
- Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS)
- In 2016-2020, Sida committed $5.3 million to PMRS.
- PMRS rhetoric includes accusations of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” and “war crimes.”
- PMRS is a signatory to a multiple BDS initiatives and has organized BDS conferences.
- PMRS runs “Palestine Monitor,” an “independent news website” that has featured virulently antisemitic cartoons that trivialize the Holocaust; depict of a pile of emaciated dead bodies in striped uniforms under the caption “Gaza”; featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stamping Palestinian babies with the word “terrorist,” as they are transported on a conveyer belt into a smoking oven; and of an elderly Palestinian woman with a blood-dripping “1948” tattooed on her arm, invoking the numbers that were tattooed on the arms of Jewish prisoners in concentration camps.
- Islamic Relief Sweden
- In 2017-2019, Islamic Relief Sweden received $2.7 million ($1.3 million in 2018) from Sida.
- Islamic Relief Sweden also received $3 million in Sida funding indirectly through Forum Syd (see below).
- Islamic Relief Sweden is part of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) and was founded by The Islamic Association in Sweden.
- On June 19, 2014, Israel’s Defense Minister declared IRW to be illegal, based on its alleged role in funneling money to Hamas, and banned it from operating in Israel and the West Bank. Hamas is a designated terror organization by Israel, the US, EU, and Canada. According to media reports, the decision was made after “the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the coordinator for government activities in the territories, and legal authorities provided incriminating information against IRW.”
- In November 2014, the United Arab Emirates banned IRW as a terror organization.
- In January 2016, HSBC Banking group in the UK severed ties with IRW over terror funding fears.
- In 2017-2019, Islamic Relief Sweden received $2.7 million ($1.3 million in 2018) from Sida.
- Health Work Committees
- HWC received $1.2 million from Sida in 2018 for a $3.7 million project (2017-2020).
- HWC received SEK 2.1 million (2015-2017) from Individuell Människohjälp (IM) for a similar project (see “indirect funding” below).
- HWC is the West Bank and Jerusalem spinoff of Union of Health Workers Committees (UHWC), a Gaza-based NGO identified by Fatah as a PFLP “affiliate” and by USAID-engaged audit as “the PFLP’s health organization.” The PFLP is a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
- HWC’s Youth Development Program, “A community, cultural, and social development program that provide services to Jerusalemite youth through ‘Nidal Center,’” served as “a place of action of the [PFLP] organization.” As a result of these ties to the PFLP, the Center was closed by Israeli authorities from 2009 to 2012. In 2015, Israeli authorities closed an HWC center in Shufat for one year. The decision states that the decision was made to raid and close the center “[u]nder the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1948 and after the conviction that this place is used in terrorist activities.”
- In October 2019, Waleed Hanatsheh, HWC’s finance and administration manager, was arrested as part of a terror cell that carried out a bombing against Israeli civilians, murdering 17-year old Rina Shnerb, and injuring her father and brother.
- Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)
- From 2017-2019, the Swedish Mission Council (via SIDA) allocated $2.1 million for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).”
- EAPPI sends volunteers to the West Bank to “witness life under occupation.” Upon completion of the program, the volunteers return to their home countries and churches where many engage in inflammatory anti-Israel, and at times antisemetic, rhetoric and advocacy, including advocating for BDS campaigns in churches, comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany, and other delegitimization strategies.
- Sweden sends about 20 participants on the EAPPI program annually. Upon returning to Sweden, many EAPPI activists use their experience in the West Bank to promote anti-Israel campaigns, including BDS.
- Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP)
- According to Sida’s CSO Database, Diakonia has received multiple grants amounting to $4.6 million (2017-2019) for projects in the West Bank and Gaza.
- Diakonia’s “International Humanitarian Law” (IHL) Resource Center published “An Easy Guide to International Humanitarian Law,” which focuses exclusively on Israeli policies and distorts international law and misuses terms “collective punishment,” and “proportionality.”
- Diakonia does not conduct similar types of programs in terms of content or resources in any other conflict region in the world.
- In addition to its own activities, Diakonia funds some of the most highly biased and politicized NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict including: Alternative Information Center (AIC), Sabeel, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, BADIL, Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC), and Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS). Several of these NGOs are linked to the PFLP and/or promote extreme antisemitic content, advocate for BDS, and reject a two-state framework. (See table below for further funding information.)
- In 2016-2019, Diakonia provided SEK 1.6 million the Palestinian NGO Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC). In May 2017, WATC inaugurated a youth center in the village of Burqa named after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who in 1978 murdered 37 civilians, including 12 children. Diakonia defended WATC’s participation in naming the center, claiming that “WATC has requested that its logo be removed from the center.” Despite this claim, WATC was present at the center’s inauguration and posted photos of the inauguration.
- Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
- NRC received $656,096 (2018) from Sida for projects in the “Occupied Palestinian territory.”
- One of NRC’s principal projects in Israel, “Information, counseling, and legal assistance (ICLA),” exploits judicial frameworks to manipulate Israeli policy, bypassing democratic frameworks.
- In 2017, ICLA’s “beneficiary targets” included “3628 opened and continuing cases for legal assistance in the West Bank (West Bank 612 new and 3016 continuing),” as well as “40 advocacy briefings given on specific HLP [Housing, Land, and Property] and residency issues (verbal or written), 10 of instances information is submitted to other UN mechanisms, and 75 public interest cases challenging unjust HLP issues.
- NRC also leads the “Legal Task Force,” a UN-OCHA organized mechanism, which coordinates legal responses by 14 Palestinian, Israeli, and international NGOs. An NRC funding appeal notes a close relationship with the PA, explaining that “Legal aid interventions will be coordinated with the PA thru the Legal Task Force” (emphasis added).
- A lawyer affiliated with the NRC program stated that the objective of these cases are an attempt to “try every possible legal measure to disrupt the Israeli judicial system… as many cases as possible are registered and that as many cases as possible are appealed to increase the workload of the courts and the Supreme Court to such an extent that there will be a blockage” (emphasis added).
- In April 2018, NRC contractor Yasser Murtaja was killed in the violence on the Gaza border. An NRC statement notes, “Yasser Murtaja…had agreed to document for NRC the bitter prolonged struggle faced by Palestinian refugees in Gaza. The work was planned to start the day after he was killed.” Israeli officials accused Murtaja of being a Hamas activist.
- European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
- ECFR received $368 222 in 2018-2019 from Sida.
- ECFR has been one of the leading BDS advocates in Europe under the guise of a so-called “differentiation” policy. Under differentiation, ECFR lobbies the EU and European governments to adopt policies that promote silent boycott and divestment of any business activities supposedly related to Israeli “settlements built on occupied territory” on the false basis that such activities violate international law and the “domestic legal order.”
- In December 2019, the Jerusalem Post published an article exposing that while ECFR accepts donations from donors who do business in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and Northern Cyprus, it pushes for the EU and European governments to adopt policies that promote silent boycott and divestment of any business activities supposedly related to Israeli “settlements built on occupied territory.” This reflects ECFR’s non-objective standards which single out Israel while ignoring comparable conflict situations.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- In 2018, the Swedish MFA granted NIS 164,172 to Terrestrial Jerusalem.
- Promotes a one-sided approach to the conflict, placing sole blame for the failure of the peace process on Israel. The complexities of the situation in Jerusalem are erased, including illegal building and crime in Palestinian neighborhoods, damage to the Temple Mount as a result of illegal digging by the Waqf, and incitement to violence against Jews by extremist clerics.
- In 2018, the MFA granted NIS 158,640 to the Geneva Initiative.
- Sweden, together with the governments of Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands, jointly funded the Secretariat, with Sweden being the lead donor. For 2014-2017, this funding mechanism had a budget of approximately $19.4 million. The funds were managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) in Ramallah and a Swedish consulting company, NIRAS.
- Sida initially provided over $5 million to the Secretariat (2014-2016). In 2017, Sweden extended its funding through 2018, with an updated total commitment of over $9 million.
- In correspondence with NGO Monitor, on April 2, 2018, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs stated that in regards to the Secretariat, Sweden “finished its activities according to plan by the end of 2017… Sweden is now considering how to best support efforts to strengthen respect for human rights in the future.”
- In 2016, Sida paid $34,678 for an internal review of the Secretariat. It is unknown who carried out this evaluation.
- In 2015, Sida paid $57,950 for an external evaluation of the Secretariat: “Study of effectiveness of core funding to CSOs in the field of Human Rights and IHL in the oPt – Study of effectiveness of core funding to CSOs.” This evaluation was conducted by four individuals, one of whom appears to have worked for Diakonia (see below) and another who was a board member of the Israeli NGO Zochrot (see above).
- The Secretariat funded highly politicized NGOs that are involved in the whitewashing of violence and terrorism, legal warfare (“lawfare”) against Israeli officials, BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns, advancing a “1948 agenda,” exploiting the false “apartheid” analogy to discredit Israel, and even promoting antisemitic propaganda. Some of these groups also have alleged ties to terrorist organizations. NGO Monitor has extensively documented numerous concerns relating to the Secretariat.
- Save the Children
- The Swedish government committed approximately $2 million to Save the Children for a 2017-2019 West Bank and Gaza project designed to “address the systemic nature of violence (corporal punishment/physical and humiliating behaviors, physical and sexual abuse) against children” and to ensure that “such violations are reported, documented, and addressed, and violators are held accountable, and by supporting positive discipline approaches within society.”
- On May 18, 2018, the Swedish government, together with Save the Children and Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR), sponsored a workshop at the Dar al Huda kindergarten, “Training of Teachers on Positive Discipline in Everyday Teaching.”
- On May 26, 2018, the Dar al Huda kindergarten in Gaza held a graduation ceremony that included the mock killing and kidnapping of Israelis by children dressed as combatants. The simulation included sophisticated equipment such as drones, body cameras, military fatigues, body armor, and sniper camouflage. Children wore headbands representing Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, and others.
- According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Dar al Huda held similarly exploitative military-style events in 2017 and 2016.
- Save the Children works with local NGO partners. For example, it funds a project called “Child’s rights and Child Protection in OPT” with a budget for 2017 of SEK 6.6 million. Implementing partners and organizations are unclear. However, a similarly named 2015 project (SEK 6 million) lists implementing organizations as: Al Mezan, Al Dameer, PYALARA, Independent Commission for Human Rights, and Sawa; partners are Defence for Children International – Palestine, Al Mezan, Juzoor Foundation for Health & Social Development, Aisha, Palestinian Counselling Center, and Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution.
- NGO Development Center (NDC)
- In 2016-2021, Sida committed $6 million to NDC. In 2018, NDC received approximately $1.2 million from Sida (57% of NDC’s total budget).
- NDC “facilitated” and funded the “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct,” which demands that Palestinian groups reject “any normalization activities with the occupier, neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.”
- In 2018, NDC provided funding to NGOs that promote BDS, including Defense for Children International – Palestine, Ma’an Network, Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, and Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA).
- Kvinna Till Kvinna (KTK)
- Kvinna Till Kvinna received multiple grants amounting to over $1 million (2016-2019) from Sida
- KtK funds numerous NGOs that support BDS initiatives through participation in activities and events, signing of petitions and initiatives, and/or membership in BDS platforms. NGOs include Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), Palestinian Center for Peace and Democracy (PCPD), The Palestinian Working Women Society for Development (PWWSD), Women’s Affairs Center, Women’s Studies Center, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).
- KTK funds the Gun Free Kitchen Tables project of the Isha L’Isha Feminist Center. According to GFKT, the project “works to stem and reverse small arms proliferation, to advance gun control across the board…” in Israel.
- GFKT English page also reveals the group’s overt political orientation, explaining that “we also subvert basic principles of the endemic, masculinized militarization dominating government policies in Israel and underpinning the continued occupation of territories conquered in 1967.”
- In November 2018, GFKT petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice against new criteria for obtaining a civilian and organizational firearms licenses. The petition ignores that the criteria were eased in 2016 for defensive purposes following a sharp increase in violent stabbing attacks targeting Israeli citizens.
- A 20132 Sida evaluation of KtK states, “KtK is vocal in its denouncing of so called Normalisation of the relationship between Israel and the occupied Palestinians and support Women’s organisations with a clear Anti-occupation profile such as women (and their families) bereaved through martyrdom or jailing due to opposition to the occupation forces.”
- Forum Syd
- Forum Syd received grants totalling nearly $1 million (2017-2019) from Sida.
- In 2017-2018, Forum Syd granted SEK 1.2 million to Palestine Solidarity (Palestinagrupperna i Sverige – PGS).
- The project aims to lobby the Swedish government and “increase knowledge about Sweden’s official positions on the Palestine-Israel conflict, as well as Sweden’s support for Palestine in the form of development aid.”
- PGS provides funding to Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) and Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), ActiveStills and Worker’s Action Centre-Maan.
- We Effect (formerly Swedish Cooperative Centre)
- We Effect received grants totaling nearly $1.9 million (2017-2019) from Sida
- We Effect’s project expenses in the West Bank and Gaza was SEK 6.1 million in 2018 and SEK 10.1 in 2017.
- We Effect partners with Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), for its joint program aimed “at ‘Improving Good Governance Practices among Palestinian Cooperatives and Community Based Organization (CBOs).’”
- The Olof Palme International Center
- The Olof Palme International Center received grants totalling over $300,000 (2016-2019) from Sida for projects in “Palestinian Territory, Occupied.”
- The Olof Palme Center partners with PYALARA – The Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation among others. It does not reveal funding to these organizations.
Direct Swedish Funding to NGOs Active in the Arab-Israeli Conflict
- Is there a connection between Swedish Aid and Hamas Institutions? Tobias Peterson, The Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2015