French-Funded NGOs: The Radicalization of Human Rights
The banner of human rights provides non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world with a halo of credibility and impartiality, enhancing their access to funding and to decision making processes. Unfortunately, many NGOs routinely exploit the rhetoric of universal human rights and international law to promote narrow ideological and political campaigns.
Several government-funded NGOs involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict go further, using the façade of human rights and international law to blur the lines between “peaceful” and “nonviolent” campaigns, on one hand, and violent “resistance” including attacks against civilians, on the other. Some of these organizations also have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a designated terrorist organization by the EU, US, and Israel. The term “resistance” is used by Palestinians to refer to armed groups that carry out attacks against Israel – including the PFLP, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad – and is used in this way by many of the NGOs discussed in this report.1
By exploiting the language of human rights and by working together in a tight network, these groups are able to amplify their claims, garner undue exposure, and gain legitimacy for their radical ideologies. Their messages, which are in blatant defiance of their funders’ policies, resonate in a global context of rising populism and increasing extremism that rewards fearmongering, incitement, and misleading rhetoric.
The examples that will be presented in this report are symptomatic of an overall lack of accountability and scrutiny in government funding to NGOs, in particular those that are politically active in the Arab-Israeli conflict. This results in financial backing for groups that legitimize violence, in sharp contradiction to French government commitments to facilitating a negotiated two-state framework.
In order to address this issue effectively and reduce such funding, NGO Monitor recommends:
- The establishment of inter-parliamentary working groups with Members of Knesset and French parliamentarians in order to enhance oversight and develop mutually agreed upon funding guidelines. An inter-parliamentary forum will enable pragmatic, constructive dialogue and provide a platform for the discussion of specific cases of direct and indirect funding, information exchange, and consultation with experts (research institutes, academics, journalists, etc.).
- Increased coordination and information sharing among Israeli government branches, so as to identify cases of misplaced funding to Palestinian, Israeli, and French NGOs, and to address these issues with the relevant parties.
- Increased coordination and transfer of information on NGO funding between Israeli security apparatuses and their French counterparts.
- Regular engagement in a respectful, informed dialogue with the French government on funding to civil society via diplomatic channels.
French Funded NGOs with Ties to Terror
From 2013-2016, the French regions Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and PACA provided €89,167 and €35,000 respectively for a project implemented by the Mouvement pour une Alternative Non-violente (MAN) and the Center for Freedom and Justice.2 The Palestinian NGO Center for Freedom and Justice’s leader Mousa Abu Maria describes himself as a “non-violent peace activist. ” Abu Maria was convicted in 1999 for his involvement in the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine (PIJ), a terrorist organization recognized as such by the US, EU, and Israel. 3
From 2012-2014, France provided the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) with €301,176.4 UAWC is identified by Fatah as an official PFLP “affiliate,” and by USAID as the “agricultural arm” of the PFLP.5
In 2015, MAEI provided Al-Haq with €27,842.6 Al-Haq is a leader of anti-Israel “lawfare” and BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns. Al-Haq General Director Shawan Jabarin, who is also the vice president of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), was convicted in 1985 for recruiting members for the PFLP.7
- In 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Jabarin’s appeal to go abroad stating that “the petitioner is a senior activist in the PFLP terror group….the current petitioner is apparently acting as a manner of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, acting some of the time as the CEO of a human rights organization, and at other times as an activist in a terror organization which has not shied away from murder and attempted murder, which have nothing to do with rights…”8
In 2011, the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem (CGF) granted the Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC) with €15,000. According to the Institute for Palestine Studies, UPWC is politically affiliated with the PFLP.9 In 2017, UPWC declared that normalization with Israel is treason.10
French Funded NGOs that Promote Violence and Antisemitism
The French Agency for Development (AFD) supports French organizations that disseminate blatant anti-Israeli rhetoric and that are active in prohibited discriminatory boycott campaigns against Israel (according to the Court of Cassation). Senior staff members of these organizations also express sympathy for convicted terrorists.11
- Since 2012, AFD provided €623,117 and €764,664 to the French NGO Secours populaire français for two projects in partnership with the Palestinian NGO Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS).12 In 2015, PMRS’ “independent news website” published violent and antisemitic imagery. PMRS is also active in BDS campaigns against Israel.13
In September 2017, AFD granted the Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) €153,500 (first of two installments) for an agriculture project in Area C.14
- AFPS is a prominent BDS actor in France, and co-authored BDS reports against Orange (Partner) and French banks.15
- Legitimizes the use of armed struggle within Palestinian popular resistance.16
- Demands that the EU remove Hamas and the PFLP from its list of terrorist organizations.17
- In 2016 and 2014, transferred funds to the Palestinian NGOs UAWC and Union of Health Work Committees, both of which are PFLP “affiliates” (see above).18
- AFPS claims that the objective of all projects in the West Bank “is always political,” and there is no indication that this NGO possesses expertise in the field of agriculture. 19
- The honorary and former President of AFPS refers to the mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro massacre as a “Palestinian resistor” and accuses Israel of using “poisoned gas” against Palestinians.20 He also regularly expresses sympathy to terrorists, such as George Habash (the founder of PFLP), Abu Ali Mustapha (former PFLP Secretary General), and Abu Jihad (co-founder of Fatah).21
- In June 2017, AFD renewed its support (€270,000) to the Platform of the French NGOs to Palestine (PFP), a platform composed of 40 NGOs, many of which support BDS. PFP acts as a coordinator for these groups and lobbies French institutions and elected officials.22 AFD affirms that PFP “provides the elements of analysis, political and legal, necessary for a good understanding of the situation.”23 PFP:
- Coordinates the “Made in Illegality” campaign in France, which calls upon France to end its economic relations with Israeli settlements. 24
- Supports the call for the suspension of theEuropean Union-Israel Association Agreement.25
- AFD and the regional council of Paris provide project funding for a propaganda-like “game” that aims for players to “experience the life of Palestinians.” The game omits the context of violence and terror.
- Disseminates one-sided information about the conflict based on pro-BDS NGOs including BADIL and Who Profits.26
- PFP partners with the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO), a platform composed of 132 Palestinian NGOs that prohibits its members to sign funding agreements, which include anti-terrorism clauses.27
- PFP’s partners Al-Haq, Addameer, and DCI-P have links to PFLP.
- PFP president and senior AFPS staff member, Claude Léosic, frequently expresses sympathy to terrorists, supports violence, and promotes antisemitism.
Selected screenshots from the President of PFP’s Facebook account:
Since 2011, CGF has funded the Burj Luq-Luq Social Center. According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an NGO that reports on incitement, “[in 2012] the Burj Luq-Luq Social Center Society organization performed a puppet show for children in East Jerusalem to promote non-smoking. The educational message delivered by the puppets instructed children to replace cigarettes with machine guns.” The play further states that “I wanted to stand before the audience and sing to Jerusalem, which is being kept from us. Jerusalem, whose youth are being killed by the Jews, to sing and to say: Jerusalem, we are coming, Jerusalem, the time of death has arrived. Jerusalem, we will not surrender to the enemies or be humiliated” (emphasis added).28
French Government Recognition of the Misuse of its Funding
The French government recognized the phenomenon of problematic funding, when in 2018, it pulled its funding to the radical Jewish French Union for Peace (UJFP).
In October 2017, it became publicly known that UJFP was receiving funding from the French government for a project to combat racism. Abusing its government funds, UJFP published a book demonizing Israel and making false accusations against Israel and France. It also produced video clips that compare Zionism to Nazism and alleged that Zionism is antisemitic.
Parliamentarians, Jewish organizations, and journalists were alerted to this troubling misuse of taxpayer funds. Parliamentarians submitted parliamentary questions and inquiries on this matter, and the issue was published in the well-known French magazine Causeur.29
In February, the French government asked that its logo be removed from the UJFP website, halted the grant, and demanded the return of already disbursed funding.30
- Official Journal of the European Union, “Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/1136 of 12 July 2016,” July 12, 2016: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016D1136&qid=1474969819578&from=EN; US Department of State, “Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” https://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm; Israel Ministry of Defense, “Fighting Terror,” https://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mod.gov.il%2FDefence-and-Security%2FFighting_terrorism%2FDocuments%2Fterror%2520-%2520%25203.8.16.xls&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNFVM1uGZetnuCo2HB_3dEd4PVcNCw
- Mouvement pour une Alternative Non-violente, “ (Nonviolence and agricultural cooperation in Palestine,” 2013-2015: https://plateforme-palestine.org/IMG/pdf/anglais.pdf
- Me Peace, “Welcome, Mousa Abu Maria!”: http://mepeace.org/profile/MousaAbuMaria; Samuel Westrop, “Providing a Platform for Terror,” November 29, 2012: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3467/jeremy-corbyn-mousa-abu-maria
- COOPALE, “Gestion des ressources en eau dans le Gouvernorat d’Hébron,” 2012: http://www.coopale.org/fr/accords-cadres?id=37&project_id=16https://pastel.diplomatie.gouv.fr/cncdext/dyn/public/atlas/detailProjet.html?criteres.prjId=3230
- Fatah, “Palestinian Liberation Movement,” 2012; USAID, “Palestinian institutional configurations in the West Bank and Gaza under four autonomy scenarios,” 1993: https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNABY769.pdf
- Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises, “APD bilaterale francaise transitant par les ONG francaises et etrangeres en 2015,” 2015: https://www.data.gouv.fr/s/resources/l-aide-publique-au-developpement-de-la-france/20161117-170251/APD_bilaterale_francaise_transitant_par_les_ONG_francaises_et_etrangeres_en_2015_base_brute.csv
- FIDH, “Our organization,” https://www.fidh.org/en/about-us/our-organisation/
- Supreme Court of Israel, “verdict 7/5182,” 2007: http://elyon1.court.gov.il/files/07/820/051/T02/07051820.t02.pdf; (English: http://www.ngo-monitor.org/nm/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Jabarin-2007-decision-translation_NGO-Monitor-aug2016.pdf
- Institute for Palestine Studies, “The Women’s movement during the uprising,” 1991: http://www.palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/39556
- PFLP, “UPWC: Palestinian women confront normalization and the so-called ‘peace’ deception,”October 7, 2017: http://pflp.ps/english/2017/10/07/upwc-palestinian-women-confront-normalization-and-the-so-called-peace-deception/
- Le Monde, “L’appel à boycotter Israël déclaré illégal,” June 11, 2015:https://www.lemonde.fr/police-justice/article/2015/11/06/l-appel-au-boycott-de-produits-israeliens-est-illegal_4804334_1653578.html
- AFD, “Programme de sensibilisation, de formation et de mobilisation sociale de la jeunesse palestinienne…Jérusalem-Est,” http://www.afd.fr/base-projets/consulterProjet.action?idProjet=CPS1051 AFD, “Renforcement de la résilience de la jeunesse palestinienne à Jérusalem- Est et de sa mobilisation autour d’initiatives citoyennes et solidaires,” http://www.afd.fr/base-projets/consulterProjet.action?idProjet=CPS1153
- Palestine Monitor, “Factbook,” 2015: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2xqsmhcv7v1jc73/Factbook 2015.pdf
- AFD, “Données de l’aide au développement de l’AFD aux territoires autonomes palestiniens,” https://opendata.afd.fr/explore/dataset/donnees-aide-au-developpement-afd/table/?disjunctive.pays_de_realisation&refine.pays_de_realisation=TERRITOIRES+AUTONOMES+PALESTINIENS
- FIDH, “Orange’s dangerous liaisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” May 2015: https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/rapport_orange-eng.pdf; AFPS, “French banks’ dangerous liaisons with the Israeli settlement enterprise,” March 2017: http://www.france-palestine.org/IMG/pdf/french_banks_dangerous_liasons_with_israeli_settlement_enterprise_march_2017.pdf
- AFPS, “Rapport d’Orientation adopté par le 4ème Congrès de l’AFPS,” June 3, 2013 : http://www.france-palestine.org/IMG/pdf/rapport_d_orientation.pdf#page=4
- AFPS, “Débat « Retour sur Gaza »,” 2015: http://www.france-palestine.org/Debat-Retour-sur-Gaza-25554
- AFPS, “SOS Palestine : le point de l’utilisation des dons en 2016, ” January 18, 2017: http://www.france-palestine.org/SOS-Palestine-le-point-de-l-utilisation-des-dons-en-2016; AFPS, “Dons reçus en 2014 et affectations,” February 14, 2015: http://www.france-palestine.org/Dons-recus-en-2014-et-affectations; USAID, “Palestinian institutional configurations in the west bank and Gaza under four autonomy scenarios,” May 1993: https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNABY769.pdf
- AFPS, “Les projets de l’AFPS en Palestine,” http://www.france-palestine.org/-Les-projets-de-l-AFPS-en-Palestine-
- Taoufiq Tahini Facebook, January 26, 2017; Jewish Press, “Twitter Takes Action: Suspends Account of Wanted Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi,” April 26, 2017: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/twitter-takes-action-suspends-account-of-wanted-terrorist-ahlam-tamimi/2017/04/26/; Taoufiq Tahini Facebook, October 5, 2017: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2004450099842282&id=100008319338978; Taoufiq Tahini Facebook, January 13, 2018: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2052733595013932&set=a.1436803226606975.1073741829.100008319338978&type=3&theaterhttps://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2004450099842282&id=100008319338978
- Taoufiq Tahini Facebook, January 26, 2017: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1873923722894921&set=a.1436803226606975.1073741829.100008319338978&type=3&theater; [v] Taoufiq Tahini Facebook, August 26, 2017: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1987010514919574&set=a.1436803226606975.1073741829.100008319338978&type=3&theater; Taoufiq Tahani Facebook, April 16, 2018: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2102063683414256&set=a.1436803226606975.1073741829.100008319338978&type=3&theater
- AFD, “L’AFD soutient 29 nouveaux projets d’OSC françaises pour un montant de près de 18,5 M €, ” October 24, 2017: https://www.afd.fr/sites/afd/files/2017-10/comites-ong-AFD-2017.pdf#page=10
- PFP, “Made in illegality,” 2017: https://plateforme-palestine.org/-Made-in-illegality-
- PFP, “Appel pour la suspension de l’Accord d’Association Union Européenne – Israël,” 2016: https://plateforme-palestine.org/Appel-pour-la-suspension-de-l-Accord-d-Association-Union-Europeenne-Israel
- PFP, “Palestine Israël: Les instruments pour argumenter,” 2017: https://plateforme-palestine.org/Les-instruments-pour-argumenter
- Kate Mackintosh and Patrick Duplat, “Study of the Impact of Donor Counter‑Terrorism Measures on Principled Humanitarian Action,” July 2013: https://mafiadoc.com/study-of-the-impact-of-donor-counterterrorism-measures-on-_59f68e131723dd5a64556226.html
- PMW, “UN-funded NGO to kids: Replace cigarettes with machine guns,” June 11, 2012: http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=6930
- NGO Monitor, “French Government: Funding to the Union Juive Française pour la Paix (UJFP),” December 31, 2017: https://www.ngo-monitor.org/resource-pages/parliamentary-questions-related-to-ngo-monitor-research/#UnionJuvie; Luc Rosenwzeig and Vincent Chebat, “L’UJFP, l’antisionisme subventionné par l’Etat,” Causeur, February 7, 2018: https://www.causeur.fr/ujfp-antisionisme-juifs-israel-racisme-bds-149429
- Luc Rosenwzeig, “Clips antisionistes subventionnés : l’UJFP va devoir rembourser,” Causeur, February 14, 2018: https://www.causeur.fr/ujfp-antisionisme-cget-clips-video-valls-149539