"BADIL - Promoting Extreme Palestinian Refugee Demands"
The NGO network, including many Palestinian and Israeli Arab groups, is actively involved in promoting the extremist political demand known as ‘the right of return’. The BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights, established in Bethlehem in 1998, is one of the most active on this issue. Its declared goal is to "provide a resource pool of alternative, critical and progressive information and analysis on the question of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons." With a budget of over $400,000, BADIL receives funding from sources including Oxfam, the MCC, Canadian International Development Agency, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Swiss Foreign Ministry and church groups.
BADIL’s 2003 Annual Report says that the organization "has pending applications for ‘special consultative status’ with UN ECOSOC and for membership with the highly politicized Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO). PNGO’s website does not, however, currently list BADIL as a member.
Adopting the language of demonization and a highly distorted version of the 1947/8 war, BADIL claims that "Sources of flight [of Palestinian refugees] include indiscriminate attacks on civilians, massacres, looting, destruction of property (including entire villages), and forced expulsion. Israeli military forces adopted ‘shoot to kill’ policies along the armistice lines to prevent the return of refugees…A smaller number of Palestinians have become refugees due to policies and practices akin to low-intensity transfer."
Regarding the ‘right of return’, BADIL claims that "there is no legal contradiction between the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the right of refugees to return." The organization refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, openly declaring the goal of using the ‘right of return’ to "alter the demographic balance in Israel so much that it would destroy Israel’s Zionist, exclusionist character…But the preservation of this character of Israel is neither an international responsibility nor a moral-juridical-political fact that outweighs in importance the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people."
Despite the support it receives from a number of governments and philanthropies, BADIL further makes the statement that "The UN has no obligation to protect or safeguard the Zionist character of Israel, particularly in its demographic aspect; On the contrary, the United Nations is a guarantor of the rights whose denial was a prerequisite of the Zionization of Israel; and The UN is obligated to the Palestinian Arabs to restore their rights and to undo the actions of Israel which led to the denial of those rights."
BADIL uses UN Resolutions selectively in order to promote its agenda. Thus it claims that Resolution 194 states: "refugees wishing to return to their homes…should be permitted to do so." Quoting selectively, BADIL purposely excludes significant parts of this Resolution which actually states "that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property…Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees and payment of compensation…" (emphasis added).
BADIL’s agenda of demonization and distortion of history is evident in a 15 September 2004 press release misleadingly titled "They say 9/11 changed the world. What about September 16?" Failing to mention the role of Christian Phalangist militias in the events surrounding the 1982 Sabra and Shatilla massacres, BADIL attributes the blame solely to Ariel Sharon claiming that "An Israeli commission of inquiry found that he and other Israelis were responsible for the massacre."
BADIL also publishes the "al-Majdal" magazine whose September 2004 editorial addresses (Link has expired) the ICJ ruling on Israel’s security barrier, arguing that "Academic, consumer, cultural, and sports boycotts, divestment and a campaign for sanctions by states must all be considered." BADIL was also a signatory to an August 2002 call to boycott Israel, including an endorsement of the NGO Program of Action conceived at the 2001 Durban conference. BADIL’s statement emphasizes the Durban declaration’s call for the "launch of an international anti-Israeli Apartheid movement as implemented against the South African Apartheid…"
It is evident that BADIL has engaged in promoting a politicized and ideological agenda. The basis for funding by government and ostensibly humanitarian funding agencies to such a blatant Palestinian political group is entirely unclear.
OTHER PALESTINIAN NGOs PROMOTING THE ‘RIGHT OF RETURN’
The politicized agendas of Palestinian NGOs MIFTAH and Al-Haq have previously been the subject of NGO Monitor analyses. MIFTAH claims that the refugee issue was the result of "a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing" and "attacks aimed to annihilate the entire Palestinian territory and population".
MIFTAH also accuses Israel of carrying out a "continued pursuit of "transfer"". Dismissing Israeli security concerns, MIFTAH claims that "Palestinian refugees broadly accept that exercising their right to return would not be based on the eviction of Jewish citizens but on the principles of equality and human rights." This is a thinly veiled reference to a single state solution that would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Indeed, MIFTAH refers to Israel as "a Jewish democracy, and this oxymoron should not be confused with real democracy." Al-Haq, an active participant at the 2001 Durban conference also promotes the ‘right of return’ based on UN Resolution 194, criticizing US President George W. Bush’s April 2004 remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Referring to the resolution, Al-Haq claims that "Israel’s rejection of this fundamental right on the ground of protecting the demographic balance within its borders is not merely ironic in light of their ongoing efforts to change the demographics of the OPT, but without basis."