EU accused of meddling in Israeli democracy
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"Professor Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor president, was last week brought to Brussels by Israel’s EU mission to speak to MEPs and to promote his work among journalists. The EU gives "public funds to a small group of opposition groups in an effort to manipulate the political process," he told eurodeputies. "In violation of the principle that democracies do not attempt to manipulate or interfere with the internal political processes in other democracies, anonymous European officials in charge of NGO allocations seek to exploit a minority group of Israelis to impose EU-favoured policies on the wider Israeli public." "I don’t see it as a conspiracy," he later told reporters. "But with the EU lack of transparency in general, it is very hard to sort out." He compared the sums, amounting to 68.8 million shekels (€15 million) since 2006 for Israeli civil society groups including B’Tselem, Peace Now, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Mossawa and Physicians for Human Rights Israel, whom he terms "radical fringe" NGOs, to the €15 million annually Israel spends internationally on its public diplomacy efforts. Mr Steinberg also named Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam as part of what he calls "third-generation warfare" against Israel. First came attacks from nation-states, he says; second came violence from non-state actors such as the PLO and the Intifada uprisings; and now the new form of war that is being mounted against the Jewish state comes in the form of human rights discourse that aims to "delegitimise" its right to exist. "Across the board, these organisations cast Israel as having a poor record on human rights. They have a structural bias against Israel and they are very active in the demonisation and delegitimisation campaign of Israel," he said. He is especially critical of B’Tselem, saying they play fast and loose with death rates and casualty counts in particular. "They are primarily an anti-occupation organisation. They should campaign for Israeli human rights as much as they do for Palestinians," he said. He highlighted a November 2008 conference in Cairo that was funded by Oxfam and the EU entitled "Impunity and Prosecution of Israeli War Criminals," saying plans were hatched at the event for two Belgian lawyers to later target Israeli officials with legal claims in Belgium on war crimes. "Why is the EU giving money to private Israeli organisations?" he said. My speculation is that it’s a group of EU bureaucrats with personal ideological interests. And with the EU and these groups clinging to secrecy so stubbornly, it suggests that there’s something going on under the surface.""