See here for additional information on Danish funding to political NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- DanWatch is a Danish “independent media and research centre,” whose stated mandate is to “expose companies with trouble in the ethics department.”
- Claims to be an “independent medium” to “investigate the accuracy of information from all sources.”
- As part of a global campaign of BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) against Israel, DanWatch has targeted Israeli and European corporations Ahava, G4S, and ISS, Israeli agricultural products and tour operators.
- In contrast to ethical guidelines claiming “to be honest and fair in its gathering, interpretation and sharing of information,” DanWatch bases its analysis on highly biased and unreliable NGOs (non-government organizations) active in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including Who Profits, ICAHD, and Al-Haq. These groups have no credibility or expertise, and are all leaders in promoting anti-Israel BDS.
- According to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2013, DanWatch received a grant of 5 million krone (€671,000) under the CSR fund, for a project to “Strengthen a watchdog who shares his knowledge and creates balanced debate.”
- DanWatch also received a 70,000 krone (€9,000) grant from the Danish Ministry of Culture’s lottery funds.
- While DanWatch describes itself as “a watchdog,” its own financial reports show that DanWatch practices limited financial transparency and does not release detailed information regarding its own funding sources.
- Thus, the Danish government is using taxpayer money to fund DanWatch’s biased BDS campaigns.
Examples of DanWatch’s involvement in BDS
- In 2010, DanWatch initiated the project “Business on Forbidden Land,” focusing on Danish companies allegedly conducting business in Israeli settlements and opposing the marketing of Israeli goods produced in the West Bank.
- As with DanWatch’s general approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “Business on Forbidden Land” is highly tendentious in its presentation of material, includes numerous factual errors, and promotes a fundamental political bias against Israel.
- DanWatch encourages BDS campaigns under the guise of “business ethics” and opposing “indirect support” for illegal activities. These concepts are used in a highly subjective and vague manner, and the latter is not applied to any other international region or conflict.
- On September 26, 2014, DanWatch released a statement, “Danish trade with cosmetics from settlements: AHAVA,” implying that the Israeli cosmetic company AHAVA illegally extracts natural resources from the Dead Sea. This publication was reportedly a major catalyst that led several Danish retails stores to remove Ahava products from their displays.
- On January 29, 2015, DanWatch posted a publication as part of its “Tourism on Stolen Land” project, funded by DanChurchAid, which accuses seven Danish travel agencies of “systematically advertis[ing] occupied territories as Israeli” and violating the Danish Marketing Practices Act. The publication, which repeats the narrative of the “illegality of occupation,” fails to demonstrate how these agencies mislead clients or otherwise violate any laws and regulations.
- DanWatch’s publication was accompanied by activism, with the NGO contacting the tour companies and accusing them of not making it “clear to the tourists that they will find themselves in an illegal settlement…beyond Israel’s internationally recognised borders.” This is a political, not legal or ethical, consideration, which in no way benefits Palestinian tourism or Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in the field of tourism.
- Moreover, Danwatch accuses Israel of exploiting tourism income from Palestinians, yet refers to archaeological sites, such as Qumran and Herodion, which were built and developed entirely by Israel.
- The publication also ignores the existence of an independent Palestinian tourism industry, including archeology, religious tourism, and conflict-related tourism, and fails to demonstrate how Israel would be implicated in the underdevelopment of Palestinian touristic infrastructure.
Methodological Failures and Reliance on Biased Political Advocacy NGOs
- DanWatch bases its research on some of the most unreliable, biased, and radical NGOs (non-government organizations) active in the Arab-Israeli conflict (as documented in detail by NGO Monitor), including Who Profits, ICAHD, and Al-Haq. These groups are all leaders in promoting anti-Israel BDS campaigns and political warfare based on double standards and false allegations.
- DanWatch quotes frequently from Who Profits, a project initiated by the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) “in response to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel,” and as “a key asset to the global movement of economic activism and BDS.”
- In its November 2012 report, “The Israeli Settlements and International Law,” DanWatch cites Al-Haq, a leader in the anti-Israel “lawfare” and BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) campaigns. Al Haq directs a campaign aiming to “flood the [Israeli Supreme] Court with petitions in the hope of obstructing its functions.”
- Al Haq’s General Director, Shawan Jabarin, has been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan on account of his alleged ties to the PFLP terrorist organization.
- In a July 2014 article that investigated ISS private security contactors in Israel, DanWatch quoted ICAHD, which routinely accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid.” ICAHD explicitly advocates for the end of the state of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- In addition, the July 2014 DanWatch report targeting Ahava and other cosmetics firms quotes repeatedly from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which often in turn cites to the same unreliable political advocacy NGOs. Similarly, the January 2015 publication on tourism in Israel is mainly based on UN sources, such as OCHA, OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights), and the UNISPAL (UN Information System on Palestine), which themselves heavily rely on biased and politicized NGOs.