In October 2016, the French newspaper Le Monde diplomatique (the most widely distributed French-language newspaper in the world) and the European Institute for Public Policies hosted their annual “study tour” to Israel, “Israël – Palestine: A quand la Paix” (Israel – Palestine: When Peace Comes). The European Institute for Public Policies trains local government officials, and is funded by French local governments. The framework was described as “not judging but rather discovering the reality in the occupied territories and the contradictions of the Israeli society.”
The tour was led by Dominque Vidal, who in an interview with BDS France, referred to Israel as an apartheid state (it is not disclosed who the participants of the tour were). Participants met with representatives of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, some of which have alleged ties to terrorist organizations. The group also met with decision makers and academics from the fringes of the local political spectrum that in no way offer a pluralistic representation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. As a result, and in blatant violation to the professional journalistic norms, Le Monde diplomatique provided the participants with a distorted politicized message rather than “discovering the reality” on ground.
Some of the individuals and groups that trip participants met with included:
- Addameer– An official “affiliate” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization. Addameer is a Palestinian NGO that campaigns in support of Palestinians convicted of security offenses and imprisoned by Israeli authorities. In practice, the NGO lobbies international frameworks “to ask them to intervene to hold Israel accountable and pressure it to change its policies and practices. The organization refers to the Israeli army as the “Israeli Occupying Forces,” and accuses Israel of “collective punishment,” “war crimes,” and a “policy of using Palestinian prisoners as pawns to achieve political and military gains.”
- Michel Warchawski – Co-founder of the Alternative Information Center (AIC), an Israeli NGO that supports BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel and accuses the State of “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid-like discrimination.” Warchawski, who was a leader of the anti-Zionist Trotskyite organization “Matzpen,” was jailed in the 1990s for publishing an informational pamphlet for the PFLP terror group.
- Yehuda Shaul– Co-founder of Breaking the Silence (BtS), an Israeli NGO that “collects testimonies of soldiers” and uses these to promote “war crimes” charges against Israel. Although claiming to address Israeli society, the NGO’s lobbying and media advocacy focus on international audiences, including presentations in Europe and the United States. Shaul defended this practice, stating that, “Sometimes, when you want to deliver messages to the inside, you must go outside.”
- Adalah – The organization accuses Israel of “forcible displacement,” “dispossession,” and attempting to implement “the complete and final severance of the Bedouin’s historical ties to their land.” Adalah also calls for the replacement of the Jewish foundation of the State of Israel.
- Avraham Burg – Former Member of Knesset (the Israeli parliament) who promotes a “one-state” framework for the Arab-Israeli conflict and describes Israel as the “last colonial occupier in the Western world.”
- Haneen Zoabi – Member of Knesset who participated in the 2010 Gaza flotilla organized by the Islamic Turkish NGO IHH. She was also suspended from the Knesset’s Ethics Committee in 2014 and 2016 after her assertions that the kidnappers of three Jewish teens in the West Bank were not terrorists and after she visited families of slain terrorists.
- Shlomo Sand – Shlomo Sand is the author of the book The Invention of the Jewish People, which argues that the Jewish people are “descendants of converts, whose native lands were scattered across the Middle East and Eastern Europe,” effectively erasing Jewish ties to the land of Israel.