The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) is a “public-benefit federal enterprise” that provides “services worldwide in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development.” GIZ is one of the world’s largest development agencies, with a 2017 net worth of €2.6 billion as well as 20,726 employees in 120 countries. In 2019, GIZ is receiving €1.9 billion in German government funds.
Due to a severe lack of transparency, it is impossible to compile a comprehensive list of the grants provided by GIZ to non-governmental organization (NGO) partners around the world. However, leaked documents containing funding contracts and internal reports detailing support for Palestinian NGOs and reported in a May 16, 2019 article in Bild reveal that German taxpayer money is channeled to groups with ties to terror groups, that spread antisemitism, and that promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.
This is not the first scandal involving GIZ and the Arab-Israeli conflict. In March 2018, a number of GIZ employees were found to have been spreading antisemitism and anti-Israel propaganda on social media. Their statements included comparisons between Israel and the Nazis, blaming the downfall of Arab leaders on a “Hebrew spring,” and depicting Israel as a two-headed monster. As a result, GIZ claimed to have conducted a number of internal investigations, and one individual was terminated from their position.
The following provides more details on the NGOs mentioned in the Bild article.
GIZ Support for Terror-Linked NGOs
The “Islamic Relief” Network
- On June 19, 2014, Israel’s Defense Minister declared Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) to be illegal based on the group’s alleged role in funneling money to Hamas. As a result, Islamic Relief Palestine is banned from operating in Israel and the West Bank.
- In January 2016, the UK-based bank HSBC announced that it was ending all links to IRW, “amid concerns that cash for aid could end up with terrorist groups abroad.”
- According to a 2016 report by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, IRW is a “key organization” in providing “credibility” to the Muslim Brotherhood.
- In November 2016, Chief of the Berlin Senate Chancellery Christian Gaebler responded to a written question about Islamic Relief Germany’s “Islamist” connections, stating that “Islamic Relief Germany has connections to organizations surrounding the Muslim Brotherhood.” In 2019, the German Bundestag reiterated this statement.
- IRW and Islamic Relief Germany (IRG) have ties to the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), an organization prohibited from operating in Germany due to its role in funneling money to terror groups. The German branch of IHH had a close relationship with Milli Görüs (IGMG), a “pan-European organization,” which the German domestic intelligence agency states is “responsible for promoting extremist ideas and propagating antisemitic conspiracy theories.”
- In May 2018, the Palestinian NGO Ma’an Development Center’s employee Ahmad Abdallah Aladini was killed in the violence on the Gaza border. According to the PFLP, Aladini was a “comrade” who was active against the “Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip.”
- Ma’an advocates against normalization with Israel, rejecting “…projects implying equality between Israelis and Palestinian in the responsibility for the conflict, or that claim that peace is achieved through dialogue…” and supports BDS campaigns against Israel.
GIZ NGO Partners Promoting Anti-Normalization and BDS Campaigns
- PNGO is a Palestinian NGO umbrella organization comprising 67 Palestinian NGO member organizations. At least six of these groups have ties to the PFLP terror group.
- In 2007, PNGO played a leading role in a boycott of USAID funding, following US government demands that NGO grantees sign anti-terrorism clauses as part of their funding agreements. As part of this campaign, PNGO wrote that anti-terror clauses ignore “the legal Palestinians’ right of resistance against the Israeli occupation.”
- PNGO member organizations must adhere to PNGO’s “Code of Conduct,” which obliges them to “be in line with the national agenda without any normalization activities with the occupier, neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.”
- In June 2017, PNGO condemned Norway for pulling funding from a youth center named after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who in 1978 murdered 37 civilians, including 12 children. PNGO referred to Mughrabi as a “Palestinian Woman Freedom Fighter,” stating that “PNGO believes this is another form of foreign domination and oppression calling Palestinian resistance a terrorist resistance against Israeli occupation…PNGO stands strong against conditional funding, especially when it threatens Palestinian right to resist foreign domination, exploitation, oppression and occupation” and that “there is a difference between freedom fighters and terrorists” (emphasis added).
- PNGO is a member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the coordinating body for BDS campaigns.
- Described Wafa Idrees, one of the first Palestinian female suicide bombers, as “the beginning of a string of Palestinian women dedicated to sacrificing their lives for the cause.” Idrees detonated herself on January 27, 2002, killing 81-year-old Pinhas Takatli and wounding another 150 Israeli civilians.
- In a January 2017 interview for Deutsche Welle, founder and chair of the MIFTAH board of directors Hanan Ashrawi claimed that Palestinian “attacks and their perpetrators” (as described by the interviewer, Tim Sebastian) “are seen by the people as resistance. And you cannot somehow adopt the language of either the international community or the occupier by describing anybody who resists as terrorist (sic)” (3:20).