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“The whole funding process is very cloudy – it’s not very transparent at all,” said Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “The NED didn’t do their due diligence. Hanan Ashrawi was able to sell [MIFTAH’s] activities as pro-peace and pro-civil society, and they didn’t look to see what kind of organization they’re running. It was probably based more than anything on personal connections, which is obviously a problem.” Made aware of these concerns, the NED told The Jerusalem Post that its financial support for MIFTAH was directed toward its young leaders program, and was never directed toward its website operations. NED’s spokesman noted that additional funding for MIFTAH was not granted this year by the NED board of directors. But when asked how the NED tracked its funding as earmarked for youth programs, as opposed to its website operations, they had no additional comment.
While Steinberg believes that Ashrawi’s clout brings in easy money, he says that unfortunately that’s how the nonprofit world often works, and that MIFTAH is hardly exceptional.