European Union Parliament President Martin Schulz’s speech before the Knesset today and the controversial incident that took place highlight the damaging relationship between the EU and the network of politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In his speech, MEP Schulz repeated the distorted NGO narrative on water distribution, which falsely accuses Israel of “stealing Palestinian water,” demonstrating the process by which these groups promote demonization. This narrative ignores the agreements negotiated in the Oslo framework and guaranteed by Europe that determine water policies.
EWASH, a coalition of political NGOs that deals with water issues, lobbied the EU and member states, blaming Israel for “water insecurity for the Palestinian population” and calling for a “review [of] economic relations with Israel.” The EU supports this political warfare by funding members of the EWASH coalition, including Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (€335,910 and €399,217 in 2011-2014; €497,040 in 2014-2016) and Oxfam International (€92.1 million in 2012-13).
This process represents the NGO “echo chamber” – whereby European officials repeat the false claims and propaganda of NGOs and other civil society actors. As seen in Shultz’s Knesset speech today, this closed circle severely distorts EU policy, creates friction with Israel, and reduces the EU’s influence.