- In 2009, the Finnish Foreign Ministry provided 731 million euros in development funds worldwide via Finnish NGOs and government agencies, some of which was channeled to political NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict region.
- Finnish funding supports politicized NGOs based in Israel, including the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and HaMoked, as well as Palestinian groups such as the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER), and the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA).
- The funding goes to NGOs that are active participants in the BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) campaign to isolate Israel internationally, employ “apartheid” rhetoric, and pursue anti-Israel agendas in other ways. Such activities are inconsistent with the Finnish government’s stated goal of promoting Middle East peace.
- According to the available data, Finland provides comparatively less funding than other Scandinavian countries to NGOs involved in demonization campaigns against Israel. Significantly, the extent of such support has decreased since 2006, when NGO Monitor published its previous study, “Analysis of NGO Funding: Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs Development Cooperation.”
- Nevertheless, Finnish government development funds still support several NGOs involved in BDS and similar anti-Israel activities.
Of the EUR 731 million provided by the Finnish Foreign Ministry in 2009 for worldwide “development assistance,” EUR 84 million went to Finnish NGOs for “development cooperation and information activities.” The majority of Finnish government funding for NGOs is channeled to “partner organizations” that are considered to have “sufficient financial and administrative resources enabling the conduct of high-standard development cooperation” and “long-term professional experience.”
Direct government funding to the region
Finnish funding to the “Palestinian Territories” is categorized under the framework of “partner countries and areas recovering from violent crises.” This support focuses on “crisis resolution and stabilising conditions,” and aims to “support the Middle East peace process” and “the creation of two independent states” by “building the prerequisites for a functioning Palestinian state.” To achieve these goals, Finland claims to support three sectors: “education, water and sanitation, and the land register.” Recipients under the framework include:
Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA)
In 2006–2007, the Finnish Representative Office in Ramallah fully funded two PASSIA research projects (the three-volume “Palestine in Review” and four-volume “Documents on Jerusalem”) and partially funded the eight-volume “Documents on Palestine.”
PASSIA claims to be an “Arab non-profit institution located in Jerusalem/Al-Quds with a financially and legally independent status. It is not affiliated with any government, political party or organization.” Its website features a page entitled “SELECTED LINKS-Israel’s Apartheid Separation Wall,” listing articles from highly politicized groups such as the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. In a June 2009 document on “Israeli Settlement Activities & Related Policies,” PASSIA claimed that “successive Israeli governments have zealously and incessantly pursued…the ‘Judaization’ of East Jerusalem, a policy of changing its Arab character and creating a new geopolitical reality in order to guarantee territorial, demographic, and religious control over all of [the] city. They have shared their pursuit of this goal with various settler groups…their motivation being both messianic and nationalistic in nature.”
PASSIA is also a member of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), a leader of the “National Committee for the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] Campaign.” During the Gaza war, PNGO accused Israel of “erasing the memory of resistance and struggle…so Israel would be free to impose its goals, and instill a culture of obedience, and compliance with the occupying power.”
On its website, HaMoked lists Finland as a 2008 donor, and according to the Israeli Registry of Non-Profits, HaMoked received NIS 100,595 in 2006 from the Finnish Embassy in Israel. HaMoked accuses Israel of “war crimes” with only a token reference to Hamas’ “sporadic” rocket fire against Israel civilians. In 2006, Israel’s State Prosecutor asserted that HaMoked’s “self-presentation as ‘a human rights organization’ has no basis in reality and is designed to mislead.” HaMoked called the Gaza war a “punitive operation” and promoted the unverified claim that “[m]any prisoners…were held in pits in the ground…apparently dug by the army.” During the Gaza war, HaMoked distorted international law to criminalize Israeli actions, falsely claiming that “phosphorous and cluster bombs” are “illegal weapons prohibited by International Humanitarian Law.” HaMoked has also compared Israel to “totalitarian countries.”
Finnish NGOs involved in anti-Israel activities
The Foreign Ministry’s website lists a project entitled “Capacity Building Programme in Gaza and West Bank,” under the category of the “Palestinian Territories.” However, aside from a few limited details, information on NGO involvement is not provided.1
KIOS: The Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights
The Finnish Foreign Ministry provides money to three Finnish groups that “do not implement their own development cooperation projects, but distribute funds … to organisations in developing countries” One of these groups is KIOS: The Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights, which, as shown below, transfers funds to a number of radical NGOs.
Since 1998, KIOS has received EUR 7,660,627 in government funds. According to the Finnish Foreign Ministry, “KIOS is able to work on politically-sensitive human rights issues.” In the past decade, KIOS has channeled tens of thousands of euros of Finnish government funds to several highly politicized Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, including:
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)
In 2009, KIOS granted EUR 80,900 to PCATI for “[l]egal aid, legal research and advocacy against torture.” In previous grants, KIOS has supported PCATI programs to “respond swiftly and effectively to cases of torture and ill treatment of prisoners and detainees” (2007), and train “field lawyers and researchers…to meet the high demand for legal services and ensure the capacity to monitor, verify, expose and improve detainee conditions by retaining additional legal workers” (2004).
PCATI claims to fight against torture and for prisoner rights. While extensively criticizing alleged Israeli abuses, the group has done virtually no campaigning to uphold the rights of Gilad Shalit ? held incommunicado by Hamas since June 25, 2006 in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions. PCATI often lobbies in international forums to promote its one-sided, politicized agenda. PCATI leaders testified in Geneva in front of the UN’s fact-finding mission on the Gaza war, where they referred to Israel’s “unacceptable collective punishment” and to Palestinian “martyrs.”
Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER)
KIOS has funded the JCSER since 2005. In 2009, JCSER received EUR 79,700 for a project “[d]efending Palestinian Economic and Social Rights in Jerusalem.” JCSER refers to the “systematic, programmed campaign of Israel’s Judaization of Jerusalem,” the “Apartheid Wall,” “ethnic cleansing,” and Israeli “[r]acial [i]ncitement.”
In 2009, Kav LaOved was awarded EUR 23,500 from KIOS for “protecting the human and labor rights of West Bank Palestinians employed by Israelis.” In contrast to other groups, such as PCATI, Kav LaOved generally criticizes Israel’s human rights record without participating in the rhetoric of demonization.
The stated Finnish focus in the “Palestinian Territories” is to support the peace process and set the groundwork for a future Palestinian state. Funding groups that utilize apartheid rhetoric, advance the Palestinian narrative regarding Jerusalem, and distort the context of the conflict does not advance such goals. Adherence to the intended aims will require a reevaluation of grantees and closer monitoring of partner spending.