Jerusalem- A March 17 investigative report on Israel’s Channel 2 TV showed activists from Breaking the Silence apparently collecting sensitive information on IDF methods and equipment. Beyond the ramifications for the NGO and its members, this has severe implications for their funder-enablers.
NGO Monitor’s research shows that during 2012-2015, More then 63% of this group’s budget (some NIS 6.8 million, or $1.8 million) was provided by European governments, including Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, and the EU. Additional amounts came from the US-based New Israel Fund.
“Major donations from European governments have enabled the members of Breaking the Silence to implement their radical agenda, including obtaining potentially classified information with no connection to ethics or human rights,” Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor said. “All of Breaking the Silence’s activities, including false campaigns regarding alleged war crimes and revelations regarding potential espionage, are enabled by the financial support of foreign governments. The latest revelations highlight the need for European governments to implement vital transparency and oversight, without the excuses offered in the past, and adopt strict guidelines regarding secret funding processes for political NGOs that do so much damage in the Arab-Israeli context.”
In correspondence with NGO Monitor following the Channel 2 program, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faarborg Andersen stated that the EU was unaware of Breaking the Silence’s activities in collecting sensitive information on the IDF, and had not requested nor received such information from the NGO.
NGO Monitor notes that contrary to Breaking the Silence’s claim their materials “do not express the position of the funders,” the European governments are enablers that are automatically implicated in all of the activities of their grantees. In some cases, this linkage is very specific: NGO Monitor research reveals that in 2009 some funders made grants conditional on the NGO obtaining a minimum number (90) of negative and anonymous “testimonies.”
“I reiterate the urgent need for European governments and parliaments to examine in detail their funding processes, to act according to the requirements of due diligence, and to ensure that all groups they fund act in accordance with basic moral principles,” continued Prof. Steinberg.
Following introduction of legislation in the Knesset designed to increase transparency for European funded groups, NGO Monitor has presented a draft for negotiated and agreed-upon funding guidelines to prevent future abuses, as in the case of Breaking the Silence.