Funds from European Governments Support an Erase Israel Conference
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It has become axiomatic in some circles that the sole cause of the Arab- Israeli conflict is Israel, by which is really meant Israel’s existence. For many holding this view the “solution” is a single “binational” state as opposed to the two-state solution favored by the international community. These “one state” proponents also insist on a “right of return” for 1948 Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants, amounting to a call for the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
A conference promoting this vision, funded mostly by Protestant and Catholic groups, is being held this week in Tel Aviv. These Christian groups are themselves largely funded by European governments that officially support the two-state solution. The conference, then, undermines these governments’ own policies.
The event, “From Truth to Redress: Realizing the Return of Palestinian Refugees,” is organized by Zochrot, a tiny Israeli fringe group.
Israeli one-state advocates are so few that they have neither a constituency nor influence in Israel. For Zochrot, foreign funding is their lifeline; the conference was “made possible thanks to the generous support of: Misereor, Christian Aid, HEKS-EPER, CCFD, Finn Church Aid, Broederlijk Delen, AFSC, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Mennonite Central Committee, Trócaire, St. Het Solidariteitsfonds, Oxfam GB and private donors.”
NGO Monitor wrote each of the sponsors, and we received several replies.
France’s CCFD and Germany’s Misereor (both Catholic) wrote identical messages – including the same grammatical mistakes. They affirmed they are a “funding partner of Zochrot” and declared “refugee issues and refugee rights all over the world are of utmost importance to us.” But regarding funding they opted for fogginess: “Our privacy policies do not allow to disclose (sic) the amounts given to recipients.”
Belgium’s Broederlijk Delen, also Catholic, wrote a similar response: “We support the work of Zochrot as we believe refugee rights are important in any context and should be openly discussed.”
But regarding funding, they also chose murkiness: “With regard to details on funding, we wish to respect our partners’ privacy.”
What seems to be lost on these Christian groups is they are supported by public funds.
In 2012 Misereor received 114 million euros from the German government, CCFD received 1.1 million euros from the EU and another 368,000 euros from France, the Swiss government gave $12.7 million to HEKS and Broederlijk Delen received 6,891,347 euros from Belgium taxpayers.
As for the one-state formula itself, the onus for proving that this “solution” is workable is on the shoulders of its advocates. In Europe binational states have an unhappy history.
Czechoslovakia was one state, now it is two. Yugoslavia’s multi-national experiment ended in a horrific war that gave the world the term “ethnic cleansing.” Belgium, Spain and the UK each have strong national separatist movements (Flemish, Basque and Scottish respectively).
IN THE Middle East, the region most relevant to this discussion, concrete models of binational entities do not exist. The rights of non-Arab and non- Muslim minorities in Arab states are severely repressed, sectarianism is rending Syria, Iraq and Lebanon asunder, and the upsurge of violence against the region’s Christians should serve as a warning. Israel is the only Middle East country where democratic institutions are strong and minorities enjoy by right the full protection of the law.
Yet, these Christian funders are targeting Israel, and appear to be utterly unaware of the plight of their Middle Eastern coreligionists. What makes them think that Jews would fare better as a minority once Israel is forced to be a Muslim-majority state than do Christians today in Egypt, Syria or Iraq? This point is all the more pertinent considering the ethnic cleansing by Arab governments of 99 percent of their Jewish citizens after 1948. After Arab governments stripped them of their citizenship and property most Jewish refugees fled to Israel.
That two refugee populations resulted from the Arab-Israeli conflict, one Jewish, one Arab, is ignored by this conference’s organizers and funders. With all their moralistic rhetoric of refugee rights being “of utmost importance” “in any context,” these Christian groups are mute about the rights of nearly a million Jewish refugees from Arab states, and millions of their descendants.
Peacemakers, which is how these Christian aid groups view themselves, do not support efforts to erase one side of a conflict, which is what support for this conference means. The one-state formula is a recipe for war, and its proponents are exposed as uncompromising supporters of permanent conflict.
By dressing up as “peacemakers” the Christian aid societies supporting Israel’s demise bear truth to George Orwell who wrote, “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Is that how public funds ought to be spent?
The writer is chief programs officer for the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.