Ford Foundation: 2007 Review of Funding for Political NGOs active in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- Ford-funded NGOs led the campaign against Israel at the UN World Conference Against Racism, at Durban in 2001.
- The Ford Foundation’s 2007 database of direct grants does not include NGOs which exploit human rights rhetoric as part of the Durban strategy of demonizing Israel. However, Ford does not include information on indirect and continuing funding.
- NGO Monitor’s research shows that PCHR, Miftah and PHRO continued to receive Ford Foundation support in 2007.
- NGO Monitor sent numerous requests for clarification to Ford which were not answered in a substantive manner.
- Many other NGOs, which appeared on Ford’s funding database in 2005 and 2006, and which promote boycotts and divestment, and selectively use human rights rhetoric to demonize Israel, continue to list Ford as a donor in 2007.
- These findings raise serious questions of Ford’s transparency and its commitment to its own post-Durban guidelines. There is also a real possibility that Ford-funded NGOs will again lead the demonization of Israel at the 2009 follow-up conference to Durban.
Ford Foundation Grantees 2007 – Improvement?
In 2006, NGO Monitor reported a comparative reduction in the Ford Foundation’s support for the most virulent NGOs that focus primarily on demonization of Israel under the "Durban strategy". In 2007, none of the problematic NGOs from 2006 were found in the Ford Foundation’s grants database. If funding had indeed ceased, this would constitute a marked improvement in Ford’s funding practices.
However, research throughout 2007 has revealed that Ford continues to support some of the most radical and politicized NGOs, despite the fact that they have not appeared in its grant database since 2005. The Ford Foundation has consistently failed to answer NGO Monitor’s enquiries about multi-year grants and indirect funding not included in its database. In March and November 2007, NGO Monitor contacted the Ford Foundation repeatedly to establish whether any 2005 grant recipients continued to receive support in 2006/7. Ford failed to provide a substantive response.
Ford-funded NGOs from previous years continue to list Ford as donor
NGOs which continue to list Ford as a funding source on their websites, although these are not included in Ford’s 2007 database, include
- Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) website states that the organization is funded by the Ford Foundation.
- New Israel Fund website lists the Ford Foundation as under "Special Programs and Partners". In September 2007 Ford renewed its 2003 five-year partnership with NIF, to support civil society, human rights and social justice organizations in Israel. NIF, in turns, funds Adalah, Mossawa, Machsom Watch, Arab Association of Human Rights and HaMoked, Bimkom, I’lam, and other NGOs.
- Miftah lists Ford as a donor in materials provided to NGO Monitor (see below)
- Al-Mezan lists Ford as a project donor for 2006
- Al-Haq – the 2006 Annual Report lists a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, $50,000 of which had not been spent by the end of 2006.
- Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO) lists Ford as a donor in its 2006 Annual Report
- Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC) (On JLAC’s list of "Partners 2000-2007" "Ford Foundation, Cairo Office" is listed)
- Interpeace website states that the organization is funded by the Ford Foundation.
- Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) lists Ford as a funding source
- Human Rights Watch still lists the Ford Foundation as a donor of "$100,000 or more" among the organization’s "Supporters of General and Endowment Funds – April 2005 – March 2006".
- International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) states that it is supported by the Ford Foundation
- Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) – continues to list Ford as a funding source for "Training and Education in International Affairs" on its website
- Ir Amim continues to list Ford as a supporter on its website
All of these NGOs were contacted in November and December 2007, and asked whether the Ford Foundation remains an active donor. Only PCHR, Miftah, PHRO, Save the Children – UK and HRW responded.
PCHR has not appeared in Ford’s grant database since 2005. In an email of October 31, 2007 PCHR Director Raji Sourani confirmed that the website was indeed up to date, including the sections on funding. As NGO Monitor has reported, "while PCHR does an important job of describing intra-Palestinian human rights abuses, it is blatantly one-sided in its removal of the context of terror and disregard of human rights abuses committed against Israeli civilians. PCHR also supports ‘all the efforts aimed at enabling the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights in regard to self-determination and independence,’ including calls for political, economic, and academic boycotts against Israel."
Miftah has not appeared in Ford’s grant database since 2005. Miftah’s administrative and financial director Rula Muzaffar attached a list of Miftah’s donors for the year 2007 to his email of October 30, 2007. The Ford Foundation appears as a donor for the period March 2003-February 2007, supporting three different projects/activities:
- Institutional Support and Policy Formulation.
- Empowerment of Women in Negotiations.
- Enhancing Accountability in the Public Sector.
Miftah is a political lobbying group which claims to increase "global awareness and knowledge of Palestinian realities by providing policy analysis, strategic briefings and position papers." However, despite claiming to be politically independent, Miftah uses Durban strategy rhetoric, characterizes terrorists as "activists" and "freedom fighters," and promotes highly politicized campaigns that do not contribute to peace. An op-ed on the Miftah website (August 2, 2006) claimed that Israel was deliberately targeting Lebanese civilians. The author wrote that Lebanese civilian deaths "are part of a systematic policy carried out by the Israeli military establishment, approved by the highest political echelons, aimed at squashing, silencing and obliterating any voice of rebellion, anyone who dares stand up to the beast." Miftah has also described suicide bombings against civilians as "resistance." An article of July 5, 2006 about Palestinian women during the last six years of violence stated that "several young women also decided to join the ranks of the resistance movement", went on to describe the first Palestinian female suicide bombing and commented that "this marked the beginning of a string of Palestinian women dedicated to sacrificing their lives for the cause."
Palestinian Human Rights Organization
PHRO was listed in Ford’s 2006 grant database, but not in the 2007 list. General Director Assistant Rola Badran responded to NGO Monitor’s inquiry that all the details requested were available in the following link: PHRO’s Annual Report 2006 (page 48). The Ford Foundation is listed as contributing $74,972.00 to support PHRO’s strategy at the end of September 2006.
PHRO is a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and La Fédération Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH) (also listed as supported by the Ford Foundation), both heavily involved in the demonization of Israel. PHRO also participated in the 2001 Durban Conference and continues to promote the NGO strategy adopted there, including accusing Israel of "apartheid and ethnic cleansing," as well as "perpetration of racist crimes against humanity including… acts of genocide," and calls for "complete and total isolation of Israel."
In July 2006, PHRO issued a report titled, "Lebanon Crisis… Israel Severe Breaches to the International Law". This report was prepared "in light of Israel’s assault on Lebanon" and describes "genocide in Qana" and "Israel’s actions in Killing Civilians, imposing a Siege on Lebanon, Disproportionate Use of Forces, Using Prohibited Weapons in addition to Collective Punishment."
HRW featured in Ford’s list of 2006 grantees, as receiving a restricted $300,000 grant for an HIV/AIDS program and a $60,000 grant for a full-time researcher in Brazil. Yet HRW still lists the Ford Foundation as a donor of "$100,000 or more" among the organization’s "Supporters of General and Endowment Funds – April 2005 – March 2006".
In response to NGO Monitor’s request for clarification Helen Raynsford from HRW UK replied that "the information that you have asked for is confidential."
The Save the Children Fund received two grants from the Ford Foundation in 2006: $50,000 to support the prospective Save the Children China Foundation, and $200,000 was given to Save the Children to fund human rights education in Egypt, Lebanon, and Morocco. Save the Children no longer list Ford as a donor, and Customer Service Advisor Ellie Mcleod (Individual Giving) said she could not offer a response to our enquiry due to "the number of similar requests that we receive and our limited resources." In the past, this organization has promoted the Palestinian version of the conflict in material designed for teachers.
As noted in NGO Monitor’s 2006 report, following intense criticism of its role in funding NGOs involved in the 2001 Durban NGO Forum, the Ford Foundation announced a five-year partnership with NIF. This entailed a $20 million grant to establish a new peace and social justice fund. In September 2007, the Ford Foundation announced a second $20 million grant to extend this partnership for an additional five years. The Ford Foundation is mentioned on NIF’s website under "Special Programs and Partners". However, NIF is not included in Ford’s 2007 grants database.
The Ford Foundation released guidelines after the 2001 Durban conference which declare that it will not fund NGOS that " promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any state, nor will it make sub-grants to any entity that engages in these activities." This prohibition is applicable to all of the organization’s activities, and not merely those supported by a direct grant from Ford.
The evidence presented in this update shows that changes in Ford’s grant database in 2006 and 2007 do not fully reflect implementation of the post-Durban changes in funding policy, and raise questions about Ford’s commitment to transparency. PCHR, Miftah and PHRO selectively apply human rights terminology to demonize Israel, and actively promote the Durban Strategy, including boycotts and divestment.
Ford stated objectives are to "strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement." But the continued funding of these and possibly other groups not listed in the data base for 2007 contradicts these goals, as well as the commitments made after Durban 2001. In this context, there is a very real possibility that Ford-funded NGOs will again lead the demonization of Israel at the 2009 Durban follow-up conference.
 NGO Monitor asked the following NGOs about their donors in 2007: PCHR, Al-Haq, Miftah, Al-Mezan, PHRO, DWRC, JLAC, Muwatin, Interpeace, PANORAMA, Save the Children – UK (SCF), HRW, ICJ, FIDH, PASSIA, Ir Amim. Only PCHR, Miftah and PHRO were helpful in supplying relevant information. Save the Children – UK (SCF) and HRW replied that they did not have resources to reply. The rest of the NGOs, as well as the EMHRN, failed to respond.