Ireland: Government Funding for Anti-Israel NGOs
Summary: Irish Aid is administered through the Development Cooperation Directorate, a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ireland. While its declared objectives are to promote “peace and justice” through a “commitment to human rights and fairness in international relations”, Irish Aid funds highly biased and conflict-producing NGOs such as Trocaire, Al Haq, PCHR, War on Want, World Vision, ICAHD, PARC, and Christian Aid. These and other NGOs are engaged in intense political advocacy campaigns directed against Israel, including promotion of boycotts and the rhetoric of demonization. The following NGO Monitor report on Irish Aid continues our series of analyses which have included the EU, UK, Sweden, and others.
- Aid to the Palestinians
- Additional Irish Aid Funding for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs
- Irish Aid Funding of International NGOs
Research note: This report examines Irish Aid funding of NGOs active within the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict. NGO Monitor’s request for a comprehensive list of these NGOs has not been answered, as of the date of this publication. Nevertheless, we have tried to provide as complete a report as possible, and we urge Irish Aid to provide full disclosure in its response.
Background: Irish Aid
Irish Aid describes itself as “the Government of Ireland’s programme of assistance to developing countries.” It views its “development cooperation policy” as “an integral part of Ireland’s wider foreign policy” and “in particular its objectives of peace and justice. Our development cooperation policy and programme reflect our longstanding commitment to human rights and fairness in international relations.” Irish Aid also claims to “support specific actions designed to promote human rights, including by strengthening government systems and in-country human rights institutions, in particular through legal training.”
Irish Aid’s key principles include “close partnership with recipient countries, with other donors and multilateral organisations and with non-governmental organisations and missionaries…” The institution is also currently developing structures to strengthen its ties to NGOs:
Irish Aid has a constructive partnership with NGOs and missionaries in many areas of development work and in its emergency and recovery work. A more systematic and structured working relationship is evolving with the introduction of the MAPS programme, the Missionary Fund and the establishment of the Development Forum.
Under its principle of “effectiveness”, Irish Aid “operates strict monitoring and evaluation procedures and measures carefully the effectiveness of its interventions.” The agency further claims that “rigorous systems are required to ensure full accountability and value for money for activities under all headings of the Irish Aid programme” and that “public funds are being spent in accordance with the objectives of the programme.”
Irish development aid is channeled through six different mechanisms. Of those, the “Civil Society, Human Rights, and Democratisation” section is the primary vehicle for transferring funding to NGOs. This division comprises several units that administer NGO funding: the Multi-Annual Partnership Scheme (MAPS); the HIV/AIDS Partnership Scheme (HAPS); the NGO Co-financing scheme; the In-country Micro-projects scheme; and the Human Rights and Democratisation Scheme.
The Multi-Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS) was launched in 2003. The “scheme ” consists of a partnership agreement between Irish Aid and five participating NGOs (Christian Aid , Trócaire – the overseas development agency of the Irish Catholic Church, GOAL, Concern, and Self Help Development International ), “to provide predictable funding over a number of years to support the long term development programmes of the five partner agencies in many of the world’s poorest countries.” MAPS is intended to fund programs with the goal of “strengthening the capacity of people in the developing world to pursue their human, economic and social rights and to live in peace with justice and dignity.” 
In addition to its direct funding of NGOs, Irish Aid acts in coordination with international organizations including the World Bank, the IMF and the UN Funds and Programs. The EU is a “critical partner for Irish Aid in maximising the effectiveness of its development assistance.”
Funding to NGOs
Aid to the Palestinians
Irish Aid lists“Palestine” as a country receiving bilateral aid for specific projects. In 2006, €6.4 million was budgeted and at least a similar amount is listed for 2007. The Palestine overview page claims to place, “an emphasis on humanitarian and emergency assistance….to help the Palestinian people build their institutions and infrastructure”including “programmes that focus on the rights of Palestinian prisoners, women and children. These include programmes focusing on reconciliation, civil society and the building of democratic institutions.” Irish Aid opened an office in Ramallah in 2000 to facilitate this funding.
Funding to the Palestinian Authority and NGOs operating in the Arab-Israeli conflict zone occurs via MAPS, the In-country Micro-projects scheme; the Human Rights and Democratisation Scheme, and the Palestinian Development Assistance Programmes (PDAPS). The following table shows 2005 funding under these schemes:
|MAPS (via Christian Aid)||
€348,500 for “Human Rights” in “Palestine”
€18,000 for “small scale development projects by indigenous NGOs”
Human Rights & Democritisation
€200,000 to “local civil society groups for economic and social regeneration”
MAPS: Trocaire and Christian Aid
As noted, Trócaire is the official overseas development agency of the Irish Catholic Church, and it is funded in part by Irish Aid. Trocaire was founded in 1973 by Irish Catholic Bishops “to express the concern of the Irish Church for the suffering of the world’s poorest and most oppressed people.” The organization has a dual mandate — on the one hand, “to support long-term development projects overseas and to provide relief during emergencies,” and on the other, “to inform the Irish public about the root causes of poverty and injustice and mobilise the public to bring about global change.” According to an evaluation of the organization conducted by Irish Aid, “Trócaire commands roughly 40% market share of annual private donations by the Irish public towards Third World aid” and more than 40% of its funding comes from “official sources” such as MAPS.
Trocaire lists “Palestine”, with Jerusalem as its capital, as one of the countries where it works and says the organization provided €95,969 in 2005 – 2006 for eight projects. While these projects were not supported utilizing MAPS funding, as money is fungible, the prominent role played by Trocaire in the MAPS scheme, greatly increases the status, visibility, personnel, and financial capacity of this NGO and provides funding for the organization’s overall activities. Trocaire’s stated goals are to “support local human rights activists in Israel/OPT”; to “monitor and rais[e] awareness on human rights abuses”; and to “creat[e] a space for dialogue between advocates for peace on both sides of the conflict.”
However, in examining the details, it is clear that Trócaire has a one-sided political agenda, which provides a tendentious view of the conflict, demonizing Israel, distorting international law, omitting the context of terror, and ignoring abuses of Israeli human rights. The result is to fuel the conflict, in sharp contrast to its stated goals. On its website, Trocaire alleges:
[t]he main cause of [Palestinian] poverty is loss of employment and curtailment of economic activity due to the closure policies imposed by the Israeli government. The wall and the settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank are deemed to be illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
Ignoring the campaign of Palestinian suicide bombings and terror attacks, Trocaire claims its “work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) began in 2002 in response to the unprecedented levels of military confrontation and restrictions on the movement of Palestinians imposed by the Israeli army.” In his introduction to the organization’s 2005/6 Annual Report, Trocaire’s Director, Justin Kilcullen, writes that he was “shocked at seeing people stripped of their dignity at checkpoints, or separated from their farms . . . . I saw cities and towns that had simply died through economic strangulation as the Wall enclosed them.” He also alleges that “it is because of these injustices that Trocaire is involved in the region.” Kilcullen makes no mention of the Israelis killed and maimed by the “injustices” of Palestinian terror, nor that the violation of Israeli human rights motivated the organization to get “involved in the region”.
On Trocaire’s Webpage for International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Trocaire relies on sources lacking credibility, including B’tselem, and John Dugard. The text refers to Gaza as “the world’s largest prison”; ignores continued Qassam rocket attacks on Israeli civilians; and advocates for Palestinian claim to a “right of return”.
To further its objectives, Trocaire partners with many NGOs active in anti-Israel campaigning and demonization. Among its partners are the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), B’Tselem, BADIL, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Caritas. Trocaire reports are also publicized on Pax Christi’s website. The activities of these NGOs have been analyzed in detail by NGO Monitor.
In 2005-06, Trocaire funded the following projects (though it does not specify the NGOs involved):
- Protecting the Rights of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and campaigning against Israel’s closure policy (€35,000)
- Reconstruction of homes demolished in violation of international humanitarian law (€10,000)
- Legal aid to defend the rights of Palestinians to freedom of movement (€10,000)
- Legal and humanitarian assistance to families in the South Hebron Hills (€18,679)
- Monitoring human rights violations in Palestine/Israel and raising awareness in Ireland (€7,000)
- Advocacy campaign for a nuclear-free Middle East (€500)
- Promotion of peace in communities in Palestine (€8,671)
- Evaluating the impact of community-based refugee networks (€6,119)
In 2007, Trocaire joined an NGO coalition spearheaded by Badil to implement the organization’s "Call to Action", a strategy which includes anti-Israel boycott and sanction campaigns; efforts to “[e]nlist journalists to organize a targeted campaign to expose the lies of AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League and to expose the Jewish and Zionist community’s double standards regarding Nakba & Occupation”; and enlisting the help of anti-Israel “Jewish” NGOs to “rais[e] awareness of the . . . right of return among the Jewish public in Israel.”
On March 8, 2007, Irish Aid announced a five-year partnership with Christian Aid:
Irish Aid funding to Christian Aid will increase from €7 million for the period 2003 to 2006 to €17 million over the 5 year period from 2007 to 2011. . . . The scale of the agreement is indicative of the importance that Irish Aid attaches to the work of NGOs such as Christian Aid…. Irish Aid supports the work of Christian Aid Ireland in Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Columbia and Sierra Leone.”
In contrast to the formal objectives stated by both Irish Aid and Christian Aid, NGO Monitor’s research has shown that Christian Aid engages in a highly biased and politicized approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its publications systematically erase Palestinian responsibility in the conflict, minimize Israel’s right to self-defense, and engage in “Durban strategy” rhetoric. For example, the 2004 “Bethlehem’s Child” Christmas campaign and the 2003 “Peace Under Siege” campaign both erased the contexts of Palestinian terror and corruption, exclusively promoting the Palestinian narrative.
In addition to its own activities, many of Christian Aid’s partner NGOs are among the most radical NGOs working in the region. For example, Christian Aid partners with Sabeel, a leader in the anti-Israel divestment movement. Christian Aid also has a history of partnership with Pax Christi, an NGO which engages in activities aimed at isolating Israel internationally. The Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) of the East Jerusalem YMCA, another of Christian Aid’s partners, promotes “apartheid” rhetoric, organizes demonstrations, and claims Israel views Palestinian Christians as a “threat to their continued occupation of Palestine.”
NGOs receiving funding from Christian Aid via the MAPS scheme are listed below:
Alternative Information Center (AIC)
The AIC receives support from the “Irish Government through the Christian Aid/Development Cooperation Ireland Multi-Annual Partnership Scheme (MAPS).” This NGO describes itself as,
a joint Palestinian-Israeli organization which prioritizes political advocacy, critical analysis and information sharing on the Palestinian and Israeli societies as well as on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In doing so, the AIC promotes responsible co-operation between Palestinians and Israelis based on the values of social and political justice, equality, solidarity, community involvement and respect for the full inalienable national rights of all Palestinian people.
In contrast to this description, AIC’s activities reflect a radical anti-Israel political agenda. The AIC has sponsored programs including “Apartheid Law Seminar”; lectures entitled, “Against Models and Solutions: Towards a Bi-National Thinking” and “Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment Against Israel”; and documentary films that claim that Israel “implemented apartheid measures in order to preserve a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.” AIC publications include “News from Within” which “challenges the Jewish and Zionist nature of the State of Israel,” “Ethnic Cleansing in the Negev,” and inflammatory articles blaming Israel for the Palestinian civil war. One of these articles, “The Crisis in Gaza: Made in Israel,” begins: “The old dream of Ariel Sharon is becoming a reality: Palestinians are killing Palestinians, and Israel is counting the number of victims with great satisfaction.” Such activities are entirely inconsistent with the declared objectives of “promoting responsible co-operation between Palestinians and Israelis”, or with Irish Aid’s objectives of “improv[ing] livelihoods” and “promot[ing] accountability within government.”
Arab Association for Human Rights
The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) also lists Christian Aid MAPS funding. HRA states that "our mandate is the protection and promotion of international human-rights standards of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel." However, HRA often violates this mandate, exploiting human rights rhetoric to vilify Israel.
For example, on July 31, 2006, HRA issued a press statement entitled "Israel’s war crimes, massacres and blatant breaches of international law continue unhindered in Lebanon and Gaza." The press release refers to "violent massacres" and "collective punishment" (with no mention of Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israeli cities), and alleges "more than 60 civilians" were killed by an Israeli attack on the Lebanese village of Qana. The Red Cross alleged that 28 died, and the details of this incident, including the inclusion of Hezbollah casualties, are unclear.
Additional Irish Aid Funding for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs
Al-Haq lists Irish Aid on its website as one of its donors for 2005/2006. Al-Haq claims to be a "Palestinian human rights organization” and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) – Geneva, with special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations." It publishes a quarterly newsletter; regularly submits anti-Israel political statements to the UN; and was an active participant in the 2001 Durban Conference. Shawan Jabarin, Al Haq’s General Director, has been linked to the PFLP terror organization.
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
In a 2006 paper entitled “The Problem with Israel,” Jeff Halper, the controversial head of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), thanks both Christian Aid and Irish Aid for their support (the mechanism and the extent to which ICAHD receives Irish funding is unclear). As documented in previous NGO Monitor reports, ICAHD promotes a radical pro-Palestinian agenda, ignoring the ongoing Palestinian terror attacks, promoting the “Durban strategy” of demonizing the Jewish state, campaigning against the two-state solution, and partnering with radical NGOs such as Sabeel.
Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA)
Irish Aid’s 2005 annual report lists under its “NGO Co-Financing – In Country Micro Project Scheme (Local Funding),” a contribution to PASSIA in the amount of €3,565 towards equipment for the new PASSIA office in Ramallah. PASSIA is a member of the Palestinian NGO Network, which was instrumental in producing many of the preparatory documents for the 2001 Durban conference including the document calling for embargoes on Israel. It is an active participant in the global campaign to boycott Israeli goods, and listed as a supporter alongside a variety of politicized anti-Israel groups.
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees
The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) is supported by Irish Aid and there is a prominent link to PARC on Irish Aid’s “Palestine” web page. PARC frequently issues press statements attacking Israel’s security measures, and has accused Israel of deliberately acting to prevent the implementation of the two-state solution among other “crimes.” PARC has also promoted petitions calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and the campaign for boycotting Israeli academia.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) cites Christian Aid (UK) and “Ireland Aid” as two of its funders. A November 14, 2006 PCHR press release reports that three officials from Irish Aid visited PCHR. At the meeting, Irish officials were briefed on the “catastrophic effects of Israeli human rights violations” and “the visiting delegation members commended PCHR’s efforts in advocating the human rights of the Palestinian people.” PCHR regularly describes Israel’s policies as "apartheid" and accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment. In an April 24, 2006 press release , PCHR described Palestinian terrorists as "activists", and a "special report" of September 2006 talked of Israeli army operations against "Palestinian resistance activists."
Irish Aid Funding of International NGOs
In addition to funding via MAPS and its other aid schemes, Irish Aid provides direct funding to several international NGOs. While this funding is not necessarily directly channeled for work in the Arab-Israeli conflict zone, as money is fungible, support by the Irish government for these NGOs contributes to their status, visibility, personnel, and financial capacity and frees up funding which can then be utilized for its highly politicized activities directed against Israel.
War on Want (WoW) lists Irish Aid as one of its funders. NGO Monitor has provided detailed reports on the radical political activities of this organization. This NGO is a leader of the anti-Israel boycott and sanctions movement; the "Palestine campaign" erases the context of terror; distorts international law; and exploits human rights terminology to demonize Israel through the use of such terms as “war crimes” and “collective punishment”, Israel’s “campaign of apartheid”, “apartheid wall”, etc . . . . War on Want has also utilized antisemitic imagery and themes in its pro-Palestinian campaigns. As a result, War on Want is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission in the UK.
World Vision is another recipient of Irish aid. “World Vision has been a Block Grant partner of Irish Aid since 2002, and also receives support for its work through a number of other funds, including the Emergency / Recovery Budget lines.” NGO Monitor has reported on World Vision’s demonization and anti-Israel bias expressed on the Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza websites; omitting the context of Palestinian terrorism and it’s effect on Israelis; and denial of Israel’s right to self defense.
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
Based in Geneva, ICJ largely operates via a network of affiliated legal organizations. These affiliates work with the ICJ Secretariat based in Geneva "to promote and protect human rights through the rule of law internationally." Its Palestinian "affiliates", however, including Al-Haq and PCHR (ICJ has no Israeli affiliates), consistently take a highly political and subjective approach to human rights. ICJ has worked together with Al-Haq for over twenty five years and the Al Haq website describes the benefits it has obtained through the relationship with ICJ, including "an essential facilitating role … in the UN system." ICJ representatives are very active in promoting anti-Israel activities in the UN. At the 61st Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights from 14 March to 22 April 2005, the ICJ condemned Israel’s "excessive use of force, indiscriminate killing of civilians" and the security barrier. ICJ utilizes “Durban Strategy” rhetoric in its publications including accusations against Israel of “wanton destruction” and “collective punishment”, continues to distort international law by claiming Israel remains an “occupying power” in Gaza, and ignores Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. A June 2007 study by NGO Monitor revealed that in 2006, ICJ issued eight statements on the Arab-Israeli conflict, while only one on the genocide in Darfur.
On June 19, 2007, the Carter Center received €600,000 in aid from the Irish government. This organization was established by former US president Jimmy Carter in 1982 (he continues to play a prominent role) and claims “to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy”; to utilize “careful research and analysis”; and to be “nonpartisan and act as a neutral in dispute resolution activities.” These principles are in contrast with Carter’s statements, as well as those expressed by the field director of the center’s Ramallah office.
While the Center says it engages in “careful research and analysis”, Carter’s behavior, as promoted by the organization, is the opposite. Many highly regarded scholars and government officials including Prof. Kenneth Stein, Alan Dershowitz, and Dennis Ross have pointed out the many “factual errors” and distortions in President Carter’s recent book on Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Fourteen board members of the Center resigned from their positions in protest to these inaccuracies and Carter’s anti-Israel campaign.
On May 4, 2007, the Carter Center announced the opening of an office in Ramallah, “reinvigorating its presence in the Palestinian Territories in support of peace for Israel, justice for the Palestinians, and the emergence of a viable, democratic Palestinian state.” The named field director of the office is B. Scott Custer, Jr. Custer, former chief of UNRWA’s international law division in Gaza during the Palestinian terror campaign in which over 1000 Israelis were killed, was a signatory of a December 2002, letter which attacked the IDF response. This statement makes no mention of Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians nor does it acknowledge the exploitation of UN ambulances and UNRWA facilities by terrorists.
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), founded in 1984, claims to serve human rights defenders. It lists both Irish Aid and Trocaire as donors. ISHR is also an associate member of The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network(EMHRN), an NGO that frequently calls for political action against Israel and issues one-sided condemnations of Israeli responses to terrorism.
ISHR published a summary of John Dugard’s January 2007 “report” to the Human Rights Council. The report accuses Israel of “war crimes”, “apartheid”, and “crimes against humanity.” In a 2004 newsletter of the Liberal International (British Group), ISHR is thanked for its support. The publication leads off with an article by Avraham Burg claiming that “the Israeli nation rests on a scaffolding of corruption and on foundations of oppression and injustice” and advertises a meeting on “Israel/Palestine” with former Christian Aid trustee, Jenny Tonge and an International Solidarity Movement “Peace Monitor”. ISHR is also listed in an Al Haq 2007 strategy document as a potential partner to “hold Israel accountable before the UN for its violations and crimes committed in the OPT.”
While Irish Aid’s funding of Palestinian organizations is not limited to those described above, the activities of many of the NGOs receiving funding from Irish Aid contradict the guidelines and foreign policy goals of the Irish government. Irish Aid’s emphasis on “peace and justice”, and to development, as well as its claim to, “support specific actions designed to promote human rights, including by strengthening government systems and in-country human rights institutions,” are undermined by support for the rejectionist Palestinian narrative and political campaigns promoted by many of the NGOs that Irish Aid is funding and supporting.
Bernard Josephs, "Irish slated over anti-Israel funds", The Jewish Chronicle, August 24, 2007
Dan Izenberg, "Irish Aid Comes Under Fire", The Jerusalem Post, August 22, 2007
2. Total allocations under MAPS I (2003-2006) and MAPS II (2007-2011):
MAPS I (allocations from 2003-2006 totaled €171 million):
Concern € 39.4 million
Trócaire € 34.3 million
Goal € 32.1 million
Christian Aid € 4.5 million
Self Help Development € 6.9 million
MAPS II (allocated funding for 2007 totals €61,922,506):
Christian Aid €3,222,506
4. NGO Monitor was unable to determine if additional expenditures were made by Christian Aid or if Trocaire distributes MAPS funding to the region.
5. This section lists NGOs funded via Christian Aid under the MAPS scheme in which the recipient NGOs acknowledge this support. Additional NGOs described in this report may be funded by MAPS.
6. MAPS funding was awarded to Christian Aid Ireland – a subsection of Christian Aid UK. While Christian Aid Ireland has its own web address, the relationship is unclear. According to an evaluation of Christian Aid’s MAPS funding conducted by Irish Aid: “The status of Christian Aid in Ireland is changing and it has also significant implications for the relationships between Christian Aid Ireland and Christian Aid UK. MAPS presented an opportunity for Christian Aid Ireland to develop its own identity as a development partner . . . .”
7. Arlene Kushner, The UNs Palestinian Refugee Problem, Azure, Autumn 5766 / 2005, No. 22