On April 22, the council of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in the UK adopted a motion to boycott Israeli academics and researchers – selecting Bar Ilan and Haifa Universities – and to "investigate" Hebrew University.
This decision, and the widespread criticism that followed, is strongly linked to and based on activities and campaigns of PNGO – the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organization network. The AUT’s policy statement explicitly cites PNGO’s call for an academic boycott and notes the plan to "circulate" their material.
Indeed, the PNGO has played a central role in promoting the academic boycott as part of its overall ideological campaign against Israel’s legitimacy. For example, the PNGO was involved in the December 2004 conference on "Resisting Israeli Apartheid Strategies & Principles" that took place at the School of Oriental & African Studies, London .
In addition to coordinating the efforts of over 90 Palestinian groups defining themselves as NGOs, PNGO itself functions as an NGO promoting an extremist Palestinian agenda, based on reports and publications that conspicuously lack credibility. These activities include a central role in promoting boycotts of Israel, such as the Grassroots International Protection for the Palestinian People (GIPP) , which consistently calls for an economic boycott, a "civilian boycott of all official Israeli organizations and institutions", expulsion of Israel from "intergovernmental organizations", and demands that foreign states refuse entry to Israeli officials. GIPP’s other activities include the promotion of allegations that Israeli security forces interfered with the recent PA chairmanship elections and tampered with ballots. The reports of the international election observers, including many from the European Union, show these claims to be false, and highlight the absence of credibility.
The PNGO boycott campaign is also promoted via Al-Marsad, and by Palestine Monitor, which routinely employs inflammatory rhetoric to demonize Israel and accuse it of perpetrating atrocities against the Palestinian people.
PNGO’s extremist political agenda is reflected in the stiff rejection of USAID guidelines designed to prevent funding to recognized terrorist groups. In its policy statement, PNGO argues that the new rules could prevent "Palestinians who want to take part in international events" from making presentations "from a Palestinian perspective", implying that opposition to terror and legitimate Palestinian views are irreconcilable.
Similarly, PNGO, like the British activists pressing the academic boycott, is very active in the political disinformation campaign against the Israeli security barrier . The PNGO website highlights several inflammatory statements, including those by South African President Thabo Mbeki on the "apartheid wall", and many other references to South Africa, repeating the themes of the 2001 Durban conference. PNGO’s reports on this issue use the language of incitement, such as "colonization", "the Judeaization of Jerusalem", "ghettoize", and "land grab". PNGO’s key propaganda role (in contrast to AUT’s misleading references to its role in "civil society") is also reflected in its condemnation of the impending Israeli disengagement, and in the dismissal of joint industrial cooperative ventures between Israelis and Palestinians as "the project of enslaving the Palestinian people". PNGO declares that the State of Israel "represents the completion of an apartheid system that by far exceeds the darkest times of South Africa, aiming at the complete demise of our people."
PNGO does not provide information on its funding sources, in contrast to its claims to value accountability and transparency. However, a "joint NGO/Donor Workshop and Discussion Session" held in September 2004 at a church in Ramallah included officials from the UN Development Programme, USAID, the European Commission and several EU member-states, all of whom make mention of their historic and ongoing financial support for Palestinian NGOs.
Further information on PNGO’s influence and dominant themes are available from analysis of the extremist pro-Palestinian agendas of its member groups:
1) Al-Haq, an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) – Geneva, was a central participant in the 2001 Durban conference.
2) Al-Dameer- Gaza; employs language that betrays its stated mission of promoting human rights and democracy.
3) Al-Mezan employs inflammatory rhetoric and images in the promotion of their radical agenda.
4) Defence for Children International uses claims to defend the rights of children to justify terror.
5) The Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre (JMCC) uses foreign funding to promote an overtly anti-Israel agenda.
6) Miftah: was very active in promoting the Durban agenda.
7) The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC) uses the guise of a medical organization to promote a highly political agenda.
In summary, by allying itself with PNGO and its network of member-organizations, the Association of University Teachers has demonstrated its pervasive bias against Israel, extending far beyond the scope of academic integrity.