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Israeli Apartheid Week, an effort by groups and activists supporting boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel to discredit it and label it an “apartheid state,” kicked off Monday in many cities and college campuses worldwide.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, the group NGO Monitor has announced its efforts to combat Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) with the “BDS Sewer System” which provides detailed information, in graphic form, on the sources of delegitimization campaigns against Israel.
The “Sewer System” responds to the needs of Israel advocates, especially on college campuses, representatives from NGO Monitor said.
“Students and faculty need accurate and relevant information to combat Israeli Apartheid Week and other delegitimization campaigns they face on campus,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, a research institution that tracks nongovernmental organizations.
“IAW essentially is a series of ‘mini-Durban’ events – based on the strategy adopted at the 2001 Durban Conference that exploits human rights language to isolate and demonize Israel,” he said.
“This ‘Sewer System’ map details and explains the complex network of non-governmental organizations and their funders that lead this campaign. Most importantly, it is a tool for students to demonstrate the illiberal and ‘anti-human rights’ nature of the movements they face on campus.”
Israeli Apartheid Week – actually running two weeks, from March 7-20 – will involve speakers from various NGOs at campuses throughout the US, Canada and Europe, many representing organizations that NGO Monitor characterizes as being actively anti-Israel.
The Sewer System analysis presents a visual, connecting network of pipes between funders, NGOs, and tactics that sustain the BDS movement, NGO Monitor explained.
Explanations are provided for each aspect of the movement, including the Durban Strategy, the history of BDS, and how this information can effectively be used.
The graphic of the Sewer System depicts the European Union, various governments, foundations and religious charities as providing the incentives and funds for NGOs, who then spread their ideas through mainstream, fringe, unionized and church group outlets.
“In some instances, the funders share the anti-Israel political agendas of their grantees,” the literature reads.
“In others, the governmental and private sources assign funds ostensibly to promote human rights, humanitarian aid, democracy and civil society.
However, NGOs divert this support to bolster BDS activity and pursue their own political agendas. Due to an absence of strict guidelines, oversight, accountability and evaluations of decision making, the funding continues year after year.”
When asked to elaborate by the Post, representatives of NGO Monitor gave examples.
The Dutch government, Jason Edelstein of NGO Monitor said, channeled funding to the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), which claims to be an “aid organization.” But then ICCO funded Electronic Intifada, one of the leading groups promoting BDS.
“The Dutch government didn’t know this until we showed it to them, via The Jerusalem Post,” Edelstein said. “So ICCO of course knew how the money was being used, but the Dutch government did not.”
Edelstein cited The New Israel Fund and the Ford Foundation as examples of organizations that “have not been fully aware that some funding goes to NGOs that promote BDS and are involved in other aspects of the delegitimization campaign.”
NGO Monitor’s literature also explains the history of BDS and the Durban strategy.
Copies of the Sewer System have been sent to students at Columbia, the University of Maryland, Rutgers, UCLA, University of California at Berkley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, and the University of Washington, as well as to the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, the Israel on Campus Coalition, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and others to distribute to their campus representatives.
“At UCLA, we are passing out the Sewer System to show students that Israel Apartheid Week is part of a larger campaign to delegitimize Israel,” Jonathan Gilbert of Bruins for Israel told NGO Monitor and is quoted in one of its press releases.
“Most students are unaware of the extreme agendas and hate-filled language associated with the groups behind IAW. The Sewer System helps demonstrate this fact to them.”
“We now have hundreds of copies of the Sewer System in our offices, and we can distribute them as needed to SPME representatives on 4,000 campuses throughout the world,” says Prof. Sam Edelman, executive director of SPME.
“This is a useful resource that clearly shows students they are not alone in dealing with these incidents – they are confronting a coordinated, vitriolic campaign to demonize Israel.”