Key Issue:The NGO Campaign to Exploit Children’s Rights
A number of Palestinian, Israeli, and international pro-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) NGOs are behind a concerted effort to falsely accuse the IDF of violating the rights of Palestinian minors in order to impose sanctions against Israel. Some of these NGOs also have confirmed or reported ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
The European Union and European governments provide funding to a number of Palestinian NGOs for culture, art, and related activities that focus on programming for children. In 2017, the EU budgeted €400,000 for Palestinian cultural NGOs for “support to Euro-Palestinian cultural activities.” Detailed research and analysis of this funding reveals that many of the supported organizations promote violence and BDS campaigns against Israel. A number of these organizations also promote “cultural resistance,” using art as a vehicle for indoctrination, incitement, and sympathy to terrorism.
The Freedom Theater (TFT)
The Freedom Theater (TFT) claims to “use theatre and art to address the chronic fear, depression and trauma experienced by children in Jenin Refugee Camp” (emphasis added). It also declares that “through cultural resistance, the Freedom Theatre aims to raise a new generation that is able to challenge all forms of oppression.”
In 2016, TFT produced and performed the play “Images from the life of Ghassan Kanafani” based on the writings of Ghassan Kanafani, who is described by TFT as an “iconic figure in the Palestinian struggle for liberation,” and “a prominent member of PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine),” a terrorist organization designated as such by the EU, among other countries. The play was supported by Sweden and the EU.
In 2013, TFT produced and performed the play “Suicide Note from Palestine.” The play depicts the nightmare of a girl who is meant to embody “Palestine,” and “announces her decision to die as a political act” in a “UN general meeting.” During her nightmare, “Palestine, is forced to interact with all the external stakeholders that play a fundamental role in the current situation. The violent Israeli army, Israel as an occupying power, an agreeable Europe, a paternalistic United States and the hypocritical and self-absorbed Arab world, along with a United Nations medical team in charge of drugging Palestine during her uprisings” (emphasis added). The play was also supported by Sida and the EU.
Yes Theatre claims that “it believes that theatre and drama can positively influence the children and youth to create a change in their society. Therefore, it works to inspire Palestinian children and youth in general and those in Hebron in particular to try out and to develop creative and constructive reactions to the challenges in their daily lives” (emphasis added).
Raed Shiokhi, a member of the Yes Theater, declared that he was “active during the First Intifada” and that “after losing two of his best friends in the conflict, Raed considered becoming a suicide bomber.” Shiokhi adopted the concept of “cultural resistance” and declared, “we cannot say instead of the gun. It is beside the gun. We can show people an alternative form of resistance, but we are not here to tell them which forms of resistance to choose.”
Al Kamandjati, a member of PPAN, claims “to support the education and schooling of Palestinian children by making music more accessible to them, especially those living in refugee camps and villages throughout Palestine and Lebanon” (emphasis added). In parallel, Al Kamandjati considers that “the Palestinian resistance must operate on all levels.”
In 2017, Al Kamandjati participated in an event in Hebron “in honor of the martyr (who is also an intellectual), Basel al-A’araj and all the martyrs” (NGO Monitor translation) who was killed in 2017 in a firefight with the IDF. Prior to his death, he was arrested by the Palestinian Authority in April 2016 “for planning attacks against Israelis and imprisoned for six months.” According to Israeli officials, he “was allegedly part of a terrorist cell planning to carry out attacks on Israeli targets,” and he “directed the cell and was responsible for purchasing the weaponry.”
Burj Luq-Luq Social Center Society
According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an NGO that reports on incitement, “[in 2012] the Burj Luq-Luq Social Center Society organization performed a puppet show for children in East Jerusalem to promote non-smoking. The educational message delivered by the puppets instructed children to replace cigarettes with machine guns.” The play further states that “I wanted to stand before the audience and sing to Jerusalem, which is being kept from us. Jerusalem, whose youth are being killed by the Jews, to sing and to say: Jerusalem, we are coming, Jerusalem, the time of death has arrived. Jerusalem, we will not surrender to the enemies or be humiliated” (emphasis added).
According to PMW, Burj Luq-Luq hosted a 2014 soccer tournament named for PLO terrorist Abu Jihad and organized a tournament named for Ibrahim Al-Akari, who murdered two Israeli civilians in a November 2014 attack in Jerusalem.
From 2015 to 2017, Burj Luq-Luq, in cooperation with CISP – International Committee for the Development of Peoples, received €855,000 from the EU for a project “We’re the change.” The project includes “sport recreational activities, as football and basketball yearly courses managed by a professional sport coach.”