(Jerusalem) – As Sweden assumes the presidency of the European Union, Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor today released a report detailing Swedish government funding for radical NGOs under the guise of human rights and humanitarian aid.  The report shows that the activities of these groups often increase hostility, and are inconsistent with the goals of the EU in the Middle East. This raises concerns regarding Sweden’s ability to lead the EU in contributing to the peace process.
Swedish government funding for political NGOs is dispersed through a number of channels, via its development wing, the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (SIDA).  This includes over SEK 100m distributed in 2008 to Diakonia, Sweden’s largest humanitarian NGO.
Diakonia distributes this money to some of the most radical NGOs in the region, many of whom reject any efforts at normalization.  This includes almost SEK 300,000 to Alternative Information Center in 2008, which has compared Israeli military and political figures to Nazis and claims working with Peres Center for Peace is “morally disgusting” and that Shimon Peres is an “enemy” of “human rights and of peace”.  Meanwhile, another group Sabeel received SEK 540,000 from Diakonia in 2008.  Sabeel is a leader in the anti-Israel church divestment campaign. Its Director, Naim Ateek promotes the one-state solution and regularly employs anti-Semitic theological themes, referring to the ‘Israeli government crucifixion system’ which places ‘Jesus…on the cross again, with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him.’ 
Between 2006-9, Diakonia directed SEK 46.4m to its International Humanitarian Law (IHL) program.  This is a central framework through which NGOs promote ‘lawfare’ against Israel and exploits international law to advance the Palestinian narrative.  A 2008 conference in Brussels sponsored by the IHL program and attended by Jessica Montell of B’Tselem, members of Al Haq, and ‘lawfare’ attorneys, was devoted to exploring further ways to bombard courts around the world with more dubious lawsuits against Israeli officials and corporations doing business with Israel.
In 2008, Sweden, with three other European governments, designated $6m for the NGO Development Center (NDC) in Ramallah.  This money was distributed to 25 NGOs, including $400,000 to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and $500,000 to Al-Haq – the two groups that spearhead the ‘lawfare’ campaign against Israeli officials. Badil, another recipient, is a leader in the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
SIDA funds granted directly to NGOs include $813,747 to International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).  This money allows FIDH to free funds for specific political campaigns, including charges of ‘crimes against humanity’ against Israel during the recent Gaza war. (FIDH official Raji Sourani is also director of PCHR.)
NGO Monitor’s Executive Director, Prof Gerald Steinberg said, “Swedish government funds are being utilized by NGOs to fuel political attacks against Israel under the façade of human rights.  These policies of SIDA and Diakonia increase mistrust and exacerbate the conflict, and erode the moral foundation of international humanitarian law.  If Sweden wishes to be viewed as a fair and effective President of the European Union, this very damaging NGO funding must be addressed.”          

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Editors Notes:

Please click here or the link below to view the full NGO Monitor report on Swedish government funding


NGO Monitor was founded to promote transparency, critical analysis and debate on the political role of human rights organizations.  For more information, see our website at


Other recent publications and reports by NGO Monitor include:-

 Al-Haq supported Lawfare in Canada – June 11, 2009

EU Funded NGOs Promote the Palestinian Narrative in Jerusalem – May 21, 2009

NGO ‘Lawfare’: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict
– October 8, 2008

NGO Monitor’s Executive Director is, Prof. Gerald Steinberg.

Members of NGO Monitor’s International Advisory Board include Elie Wiesel, Prof Alan Dershowitz, Sir Martin Gilbert and R. James Woolsey


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