Updated May 5, 2010
1) MEP Bastiaan Belder (Netherlands) asked for clarification from the European Delegation in Tel Aviv regarding an EU project to promote the Arab Peace Initiative among Israeli journalists. MEP Belder labeled the project “unilateral interference in the pluralistic Israeli media landscape,” “contrary to journalism ethics,” and “a serious incident.” (April 2010)
2) The EU-funded project is part of efforts to “Influence Institutions/ Decision makers, Public opinion and Media” outside of diplomatic channels, and under the guise of Israeli “civil society” (see below). According to reports in the Hebrew media, the EU is providing close to 6,000 euro per participant for 60 Israeli journalists to attend seminars, meetings, and two eight-day retreats with other participants in Turkey.
3) The initiative is entitled “Simulating the Arab Peace Initiative,” and is part of the Partnerships for Peace (PfP) program (€298,422 in 2010-12). The official link on the EU website is: http://www.delisr.ec.europa.eu/english/content/cooperation_and_funding/3.asp
4) The recipients are Neve Shalom School and Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (CCRR). CCRR, a Palestinian NGO, calls for the boycott of Israeli academics or Israeli academic institutions that support the occupation (“for more than 50 years,” i.e. prior to 1967), as well as those that do not take a position on it.
5) In contrast to CCRR’s track record, the PfP website describes the project as “aim[ing] to promote tolerance and better understanding between Israeli and Palestinian societies by engaging core representatives of the media in a process of reflection on the past treatment and historical background of the API and simulate the adoption of API and its potential consequences in the media; Moreover, the project will facilitate critical discussions on the journalist-editor relationship in uni-national settings, on the one hand, and establish open and sustained channels of communication between Israeli and Palestinian journalists and editors, on the other” (emphasis added).
6) The wider aspect of EU manipulation through Israeli journalists is a key element of the May 2009 EU PfP Call for Proposals: “Initiatives targeting ‘veto’ and ‘blocking’ groups (communities opposed to or sceptical about the peace process), will be particularly welcomed…Under this priority, also innovative projects targeting media to promote tolerance, better understanding, balanced reporting, and objectivity will be encouraged.” “Influence Institutions/ Decision makers, Public opinion and Media…Initiatives that bring together representative participants from the different communities involved in the conflict to advance the progress of existing visions, including that of the Arab League, of a future peaceful relationship between Israel and its Arab neighbours…a particular priority will be given to actions based in neighbouring countries designed to foster understanding of and support for the Arab League Initiative.”
7) Another PfP grant for “The Arab Peace Initiative and Israeli-Palestinian Peace: the political economy of a new period,” reflects the same agenda. NGO participants include Peres Center for Peace, Applied Studies and Research Institution Society (PA), and Aix Group (France), receiving €395,003 in 2010-11 (more details on the official PfP website).