Israel as a Catastrophe: European-Funded NGOs That Promote the Nakba Narrative
In advance of Israeli Independence Day, NGO Monitor has documented a number of Israeli NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that mourn the establishment of the state of Israel as a “Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic) and actively promote a Palestinian “right of return,” which, if implemented, would effectually mean the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. Such efforts are made possible by the extensive funding provided by foreign governments, mainly European (see below for funding details).
These NGOs similarly refer to all Jewish aspects of the state of Israel as inherently racist, thereby denying the Jewish right to self-determination and misrepresenting the robustness of Israeli democracy.
These goals fundamentally contradict the two-state framework backed by the international community, including their European donors.
NGO Monitor’s detailed research shows that the following NGOs promote divisive campaigns that fundamentally reject the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state:
- Zochrot (Hebrew for “remembrance”) is an Israeli NGO that aims to “raise public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba” and to “recogniz[e] and materializ[e] the right of return.”
- Zochrot supports a “One State Solution” or a “de-Zionized Palestine,” and refers to Israel as having an “ethnicized and racialized Zionist” system.
- In May 2014, Zochrot launched a smartphone app, “iNakba,” featuring an interactive map and photos of Palestinian villages from 1948, as a means to promote and amplify its ideology.
- In March 2015, Zochrot, together with Palestinian NGO BADIL went on a speaking tour across the United States to discuss “the ongoing Nakba affecting Palestinians both in Palestine and in the diaspora.” According to the event flyer, “Presentations will aim to provide a historical overview of the Nakba and the Right of Return, the forcible displacement of Palestinian since before 1948 and continuing today, and the practicalities of return for refugees. In turn, American audiences will have focused time to consider their role in supporting the call for the Right of Return and how to integrate the Nakba into U.S.-based activism.” See here for more on Zochrot’s support for “One-State.”
- Funding for Zochrot’s campaigns mostly comes from powerful European Catholic and Protestant aid organizations. All of these organizations are funded by European governments that officially support a two-state framework. Donors in 2012-2014 include: Germany (via Rosa Luxemberg Foundation and Misereor), Finland (via Finn Church Aid), Belgium (via Broederlijk Delen), Netherlands (via ICCO), Switzerland (via HEKS), Ireland (via Trocaire), UK (via Christian Aid), France (CCFD), Mennonite Central Committee, and Oxfam Great Britain. (See here for Zochrot funding chart).
- Claims to be “an independent human rights organization and legal center” that “promote[s] and defend[s] the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.” At the same time, it attempts to portray Israel as undemocratic and racist – a tactic it frequently employs at the UN and in other international platforms. Adalah issues statements with the aim of eradicating the Jewish character of Israel.
- In 2007, it drafted a “Democratic Constitution” that called for replacing the Jewish foundation of Israel with a “democratic, bilingual and multicultural” framework. The constitution demanded the Palestinian “right of return” and would not allow Jewish immigration except for “humanitarian reasons.”
- In March 2013, Adalah launched a “Discriminatory Laws in Israel” database on its website. Adalah’s English Facebook page provides a link to the database with the more provocative name “Racist Laws.” The database is a list of 101 laws and proposed legislation that never became law, which Adalah considers to “discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in all areas of life.” Laws promoting Zionism and the historic Jewish connection to Israel are labeled as discriminatory. Adalah uses the word “Zionist” in a pejorative manner throughout the database. (See here NGO Monitor’s Report, “Adalah’s Database of Laws: Imagining Racism to Demonize Israel”).
- Adalah’s 2012-2014 donors include: European Union, Switzerland, Germany (via EED and Medico International), Spain (via ACSUR), Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint funding of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands), UN Development Programme (UNDP), New Israel Fund, Open Society Institute, Oxfam-Novib, Christian Aid, and Broederlijk Delen (Belgium).
- Claims to work “to enable and strengthen the Arab youth’s understanding and application of the principles of democracy and gender equality, pluralism and tolerance, youth empowerment and community building, as it is part of a growing trend towards building independent institutions and striving to equalize the Palestinian community’s relationship with the State.”
- Baladna is extremely active in promoting a 1948 agenda and a Palestinian “right of return,” and constantly refers to the establishment of the state of Israel as a “Nakba.”
- Organizes a program to “[t]rain internally displaced youth from the 3rd and 4th generation of the Nakba to conceptualize, visualize and implement return to their villages thereby actualizing their right of return despite political obstacles imposed by Israel.”
- Baladna’s 2013-2014 donors include: Netherlands (via Cordaid), France (via CCFD), Switzerland (via HEKS), Oxfam, Mennonite Central Committee, Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). In 2011-2013, the New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $75,000 to Baladna (2011, 2012, 2013).
Combatants for Peace (CfP)
- While CfP claims to “allow each side to understand the other’s narrative,” its activities reflect a strong affiliation with the Palestinian agenda and narrative, placing most of the blame for the conflict on “the occupation.”
- CfP organizes “alternative” Remembrance Day ceremonies (held on Independence Day Eve), featuring the families of fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror, as well as the families of Palestinian terrorists. The ceremony immorally equates acts of terror with measures of defense.
- Itamar Shapira, a well-known IDF “refusenik” and member of Combatants for Peace, was released from his position as a docent at Yad Vashem Holocaust museum for comparing the Holocaust to the “Nakba” while guiding a tour.
- Combatants for Peace does not list donors, but according to its website “partners” include: Spain, Rosa Luxemberg Stiftung (Germany), Heinrich Boll Stiftung (Germany), Sivmo (Netherlands), British Shalom- Salaam Trust (UK), and Foundation for Middle East Peace (US).
- Claims to be “an independent, blog-based web magazine” that is “jointly owned by a group of journalists, bloggers and photographers whose goal is to provide fresh, original, on-the-ground reporting and analysis of events in Israel and Palestine.”
- Writers and contributors regularly invoke the Durban Strategy vocabulary, accusing Israel of “apartheid”, “ethnic cleansing,” “racism,” “land confiscation,” “discrimination,” “displacement,” and “perpetrating another Nakba.”
- Published an April 11, 2015 article, “The road out of the occupation runs through the Nakba,” written by Natasha Roth, alleging that the “1967 occupation — and the motivation behind it — would not have been possible without 1948. The mentality of those who support and enable the occupation lives in an ideology that was birthed at the same time as the State of Israel. As long as we deny, distort and repress the Nakba, Israelis will never truly accept and absorb the end of the occupation.”
- Published a February 13, 2015 article, “House demolitions: A reminder that the Nakba never ended,” written by Rami Younis, claiming that the “massacres of the Nakba never ended; today Gaza carries the burden of Israel’s bloodletting. Lydd, like Silwan, Beit Hanina, the Negev and the rest of historic Palestine, suffers from other aspects of never-ending dispossession — a creeping Nakba… The Nakba never ended, it just adjusts itself according to the times.”
- +972 Magazine donors in 2014 include: Heinrich Boll Stiftung (Germany), Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Moriah Fund. In 2011-2013, the New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $125,767 to +972 Magazine (2011, 2012, 2013).