Finland provides direct and indirect financial support for Israeli and Palestinian political advocacy NGOs via various national frameworks. Direct funding is provided through the Fund for Local Co-operation (FLC) – distributed by the Finnish Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Representative Office in Ramallah. Indirect funding is channeled through FinnChurchAid and KIOS, which receive funding from the Finnish government.
The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) acknowledges its support to a variety of organizations. However, the MFA does not provide details on funding or evaluation of NGO projects, demonstrating a lack of transparency.
The following groups receive direct funding from the Finnish government:
- According to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, HaMoked received NIS 95,800 in 2014 from the Embassy of Finland in Tel Aviv for the project “Defending Palestinians human rights in the occupied territories.” It also received NIS 24,500 in 2013 for a project on “Freedom of movement in the west bank.”
- HaMoked is a Jerusalem-based politicized group that claims to “assist Palestinians of the Occupied Territories whose rights are violated due to Israel’s policies.” It accuses Israel of “apartheid ,” “deportations,” “torture,” “forcible transfer,” and “ collective punishment.”
- Along with other Israeli NGOs, HaMoked submitted a statement to the Goldstone Commission that both held Israel accountable for human rights violations and ignored the role Hamas played in the 2008-9 Gaza conflict. The statement purported that Israel’s “main purpose was not the achievement of actual military objectives, but the inflicting of deliberate damage as a deterrent and punitive measure.”
- HaMoked published an Online Legal Library (in “co-operation with Diakonia”) that included documents providing distorted views or incorrect analysis of international law in order to criminalize Israeli actions, such as the false claim that “phosphorous and cluster bombs” are “illegal weapons prohibited by International Humanitarian Law.”
2. Unknown NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza
- The Finnish Representative Office in Ramallah claims to fund 3-4 NGO projects per year in the West Bank and Gaza. However, demonstrating a lack of transparency, it does not reveal which NGOs receive funding. The amount granted “is not predefined but typically…is between 40,000 and 80,000 Euros.”
- Finland pledged €23.35 million to the West Bank and Gaza for 2014-17 at the Cairo Conference on Palestine – Reconstructing Gaza in October 2014.
- This included €2.35 million channeled through UNRWA, FinnChurchAid (FCA), and the International Red Cross. These groups transfer funds to unknown NGOs in Gaza.
- FinnChurchAid works in over 20 countries worldwide, and claims to “contribute to positive change by supporting people in the most vulnerable situations within fragile and disaster-affected areas.”
- Many of FCA’s activities and partners are involved in exploiting a humanitarian mandate to promote a biased Palestinian narrative and further politicize the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- FCA is a founding member of the ACT Alliance, which promotes BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions)campaigns against Israel. Also partners with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) . Both WCC and EAPPI play key roles in mobilizing church BDS efforts globally.
- FCA was signatory to the 2012 report “Trading Away Peace,” which promotes the BDS agenda and calls on both the EU and European countries to conduct political warfare against Israel through economic sanctions.
- According to documents available through the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), FCA received the following contributions from the Finish government for activities in the West Bank and Gaza:
|Year||Aid Allocation||Aid Sector|
|2013||€310,000||Protection,psychosocial support, health|
|2014||€350,000||Shelter, food security, sanitation& hygiene, non-food items|
- The MFA does not list 2015 humanitarian assistance funding to FCA for the West Bank and Gaza.
- According to its 2014 Annual Report, FCA funding to the West Bank and Gaza was €817,948.67. Demonstrating a lack of transparency, FCA does not name the NGOs associated with the following projects it claims to have funded:
- In Gaza, provided “humanitarian aid and offered psychosocial support for civilians who had suffered from the conflict.” This is likely the funding in association with DanChurchAid, and is administered by Youth Empowerment Center (YEC).
- “A radio ad promoting a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, one that would build on international legitimacy and the Palestinian declaration of independence.”
- Helped organize a tour “for the Israeli public to visit the former Palestinian village of Sar’a, where an Israeli kibbutz is now located. The day offered a rare chance for both Israelis and Palestinians to discuss a difficult matter that touches both sides.” The tour of Sar’a was an October 2014 Zochrot event (see below for more on Zochrot).
- In July 2014, Finland pledged €350,000 to a project in Gaza implemented through FCA with Dan Church Aid. Revealing an anti-Israel bias, the funding description stated: “On the 8th of July Israel started air strike towards the Palestinian territory in Gaza. So far (28.7.2014) 999 Palestinias [sic] have been killed and 6233 injured. 76% of the victims are civilians.”
- This civilian casualty information originated with Hamas officials in Gaza; it has been repeated by NGOs and UN-OCHA, and refuted in detail in research by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The description also erases the role of Hamas in the conflict, by omitting the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June 2014, Hamas’ massive escalation of rocket fire on civilians afterwards, and the dozens of attack tunnels built into Israeli territory.
- According to its 2013 Annual Report, FCA funding to the West Bank and Gaza was €676,097, with €235,891 received from the MFA for three projects. Some FCA projects were conducted in partnership with DanChurchAid.
The following NGOs receive indirect Finnish government funding through FCA:
- According to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, Zochrot received the following funds from FCA in 2013-2014.
|2013||NIS 185,905||Supporting discussion of "Right of Return"|
|2014||NIS 94,840||Supporting discussion of "Right of Return" for Palestinians|
- Zochrot is an Israeli NGO founded with the goal of “raising public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba,” and “recognizing and materializing the right of return.” This agenda is equivalent to calling for the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
- The FCA’s 2013 Annual Report lists two projects with a similar name: “Right to Peace” and “Right to Peace Project-Rights First” (the second utilizes Finnish MFA funding). The Annual Report refers to funding to “Zochrot’s Right to Peace programmes.” It is unclear if this is the project funded by the MFA.
- FCA co-sponsored a 2013 conference organized by Zochrot, which advocated a “one-state” framework calling for a Palestinian “right of return” (elimination of Israel).
- Zochrot supports a “one state” framework and refers to Israel as having an “ethnicized and racialized Zionist” system.
- Several Zochrot members, including founder Eitan Bronstein, took part in the production of a deeply disturbing video filmed at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in 2014. The video featured radical activist Natali Cohen Vaxberg proclaiming that the Holocaust was the “best thing that ever happened” to Jews.
- The group maintains a database of “destroyed Palestinian villages,” with “testimonies” from “Palestinian refugees who witnessed and survived the Nakba of 1948.”
- In May 2014, Zochrot launched a smartphone app, “ iNakba,” timed to coincide with Israel’s 66th Independence Day. The app features an interactive map and photos of Palestinian villages from 1948, as a way of delegitimizing Israel and promoting a Palestinian “right of return.”
- FCA supports the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) – an NGO that demonizes Israel through accusations of “apartheid,” “war crimes,” and “Bantustans,” and refers to Israel’s anti-terror security barrier as “ evil.”
- According to FCA’s 2013 Annual report: “During 2013 with financial support received from the MFA, FCA sent 14 EAs to Occupied Palestinian Territories . Finland is one of the bigger contributors to the programme.” According to the 2014 Annual Report, “FCA sent 13 volunteers to the EAPPI programme.”
- EAPPI’s core publication, “ Faith Under Occupation ” blames only Israel for the difficulties faced by Christians in the Holy Land. EAPPI criticizes what it calls “unfounded Israeli and Christian Zionist propaganda that Palestinian Christians are depopulating due to Muslim fundamentalism in Palestinian society” (page 10).
- EAPPI champions a one-sided Palestinian narrative, participating in activities commemorating the Palestinian “Nakba” (catastrophe) and promoting a “ right of return .” It ignores the numerous terror attacks against Israelis and blames only Israel for the conflict.
- EAPPI engages in BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) campaigns, including a Finnish product labeling campaign , “advocacy work” against “corporations with linkage to the illegal settlements.”
- In 2014, EAPPI visited major universities in Finland claiming that Israel discriminates against the Palestinian population and “vindictively persecutes” Arabs. The group also reiterated false accusations regarding water distribution in the West Bank and Gaza.
- Founded in 1998, KIOS is a consortium of Finnish human rights organizations. These groups include Amnesty International Finland, FinnChurchAid, and the Finnish National Committee for UNICEF. KIOS receives funding from the Finnish MFA.
- KIOS’s website does not provide financial transparency; the last available Annual Report is from 2009.
- KIOS member Amnesty International Finland has demonstrated severe anti-Israel bias; Frank Johansson, the head of Amnesty International’s Finnish branch told The Jerusalem Post in 2010 “that he stands by his statement that Israel is a ‘ scum state.’”
- KIOS channels indirect Finnish government funding to Public Committee Against Torture In Israel (PCATI). PCATI regularly circulates unverifiable allegations of Israeli torture, using them as the basis for campaigns in international forums and Israeli courts.
- According to information provided to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, PCATI received 40,046 NIS from KIOS in 2012.
- The KIOS strategic guide for 2011-2015 states that only organizations in “focus countries” in Eastern Africa and South Asia may receive funding. It is unclear how KIOS was able to fund PCATI given these restrictions.
- PCATI falsely claimed that Israeli authorities put Palestinian “prisoners in iron cages (including children)” in a statement released in 2013.
- As noted by Presspectiva (CAMERA Israel), PCATI distorted the findings of the Israeli Public Defender’s Office report. The Public Defender was not referring to Palestinian security prisoners, but to Israeli criminals. Additionally, once this practice was brought to the attention of the Justice Minister, it was immediately stopped –before PCATI’s initial statement was released. PCATI later published a clarification on this issue.
- Kepa is an umbrella organization that promotes multiculturalism in Finland. The Finnish government is a major funder of Kepa, providing €17.6 million from 2013-2015.
- In 2015, Kepa denied the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in Finland entry to its World Village Festival. JNF was reportedly prohibited from participation due to “the existence of question marks on the legitimacy of its activities.”
- The vice-chairman of ICAHD-Finland (a KEPA member organization), Syksy Räsänen, accused the JNF of “ethnic cleansing” in a blog post that appears to have contributed to KEPA’s decision to exclude the JNF. Räsänen allegedly stated on Facebook, “I am very satisfied with the decision as a victory for the BDS movement.”
- Kepa’s response to the exclusion also citedAmnesty International,Human Rights Watch, and Rabbis for Human Rights. In addition, Kepa claims to have “discussed extensively with human rights actors operating in the area.” It does not specify which “human rights” actors participated in this discussion.
6. Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) Finland
- ICAHD-Finland, a Finnish branch founded in 2009 of the Israeli NGO, has received funding from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture for a co-sponsored a program on Gaza.
- In September 2014, ICAHD-Finland and the Hakunilan International Association , a multicultural activities organization, co-hosted an event: “A Peace Forum: Escalation in Gaza and Beyond.” The program featured controversial Israeli journalist Amira Hass and fringe Israeli politician Jamal Zahalka. Funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture raises concerns about the type of view of Israel supported by the Finnish government.
- ICAHD-Finland also claims to have received funding from the Fininish MFA for a communications project , but no further information is available.
- ICAHD is a small radical Israeli NGO whose leader Jeff Halper has participated in the Gaza “flotilla” events, and in other provocative activities that promote political warfare against Israel.
- ICAHD-Finland claims to be an autonomous organization committed to “ending Israeli occupation and apartheid in a manner that is consistent with international law.” The group immorally equates anti-Semitism and Zionism, accuses Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing,” and supportsBDS. The organization’s funding is not transparent.
- The chairman of ICAHD-Finland, Bruno Jantti, is also a journalist withAl-Jazeera and TelesurTV.
- In 2015, Jantti blamed Israel for antisemitism, and tacitly compared Israel to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorist organizations, stating “When those who are responsible for acts of brutality and crimes against humanity (think of tactics employed by the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda) or occupation-powered apartheid (the self-appointed Jewish state) claim they represent an entire religion or ethnic grouping, there will be those who believe them.”
- ICAHD-Finland’s vice-chairman Syksy Räsänen, maintains a blog that often includes propaganda and inflammatory rhetoric attacking the democratically elected Israeli government and its policies.
- In December 2014, ICAHD-Finland ran a project for “homes demolished by the Israeli authorities as a form of political protest against Israel’s Occupation.” ICAHD-Finland demonizes Israel with accusations of “collective punishment against innocent Palestinians who live under occupation” and of “flagrant violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.” (emphasis in original)
- In March 2015, ICAHD-Finland actively participated in Israel Apartheid Week, focusing on “pinkwashing” – a term used by activists in order to claim that Israel’s treatment of the LGBT community is merely a propaganda tactic to divert attention from Israel’s relationship with Palestinians.
- ICAHD-Finland actively encourages BDS. Relying on information from Who Profits, it targeted Helsinki University to cancel its contract with G4S. Räsänen is a professor at the university.