NGO "Experts" Demonize Israel in Brussels
On September 7-8, 2015, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in cooperation with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the League of Arab States, held a meeting in Brussels, “International Meeting on the Question of Palestine: Israeli Settlements as an Obstacle to Peace – Possible Ways Forward.”
The meeting focused on the alleged “De-Palestinization” of Jerusalem and legal attacks against Israel (“lawfare”) in the form of universal jurisdiction and referrals to the International Criminal Court.
The various sessions featured statements by a number of officials from highly biased and politicized NGOs: Shawan Jabarin, General Director of Palestinian NGO Al Haq; Daniel Seidemann, Founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem; and Hugh Lovatt, Coordinator for “Israel/Palestine” of the European Council on Foreign Relations. All three of these groups receive major funding from European governments. Other “experts” included Walid Assaf, Minister of Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission in Birzeit, and Christine Chanet, head of the 2012 UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry on Israeli settlements aimed at promoting anti-Israel BDS.
[Al Haq’s “2014’s Partners” include: Bread for the World (Germany), Ireland, Christian Aid (UK), Norway, Diakonia (Sweden), Belgium, Heinrich Boll Stiftung (Germany), ICCO (Netherlands), AECID (Spain), Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint government funding of Sweden Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), UNDP, and Open Society Institute (US). Al Haq has not released financial details or donation amounts since 2009. According to information released by donors, it received a grant of 1,000,000 NOK ($110,000) from Norway in 2014, a grant of $710,000 from the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat for 2014-2016, and €80,000 from Ireland in 2013.]
Speaking on the “Legal aspects of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” Shawan Jabarin falsely accused Israel of “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and pursuing a policy of “persecution” against the Palestinian people, and called for the international community to enact policies of BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Jabarin has alleged ties to the PFLP terrorist organization.
- “It’s not just a war crime. I think it’s beyond that – also a crime against humanity and I think we can constitute part of the actions, policies, violations as persecution and I think it meets the criteria of persecution.”
- “There is another part… about businesses and here each state has full responsibility for their citizens, for their legal titles – companies, things like that- not to act in violation of international law and the principles and here they have not to benefit from the illegal actions.”
- “Labeling [of products from settlements] is not enough… What we are asking for is banning.”
European Council on Foreign Relations
[ECFR’s 2013 donors include: Norway (£360,680), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (£341,177), UK Department for International Development (£250,368), Compagnia di San Paolo – Italy (£124,840), Stiftung Mercator – Germany (£88,236), British Council (£25,210), European Commission (£21,701), Royal Norwegian Embassy in Beijing (£2,785), Open Society Foundation (£2,556,132), Foundation for Open Society (£31,627), Open Society Institute – Europe Foundation (£7,822), Skoll Global Threats Fund (£36,152).]
Hugh Lovatt of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) proposed a policy of “differentiation,” which masks a BDS agenda under the guise of pursuing a consistent EU policy. The “differentiation” policy also advocates sanctions against individuals.
- “[The EU has an] obligation to ensure that EU actions in no way assist in Israeli policies which violate international law when it comes to occupation in Israel/ Palestine. It’s also a necessity for the EU to ensure that Israeli settlements in no way benefit from EU-Israel ties, from EU-Israel bilateral agreements.”
- “The question is: How do you move Israel and the Israeli public out of their comfort zone? How do you make the status quo untenable and how do you move Israelis toward the decisions that are needed to de-occupying Palestinian lands?”
- “The answer to this – in part – is the undifferentiated nature of Israel’s economy. At the moment you cannot say that there is a distinct settlement economy. You cannot say that there is a distinct Israeli economy. Yes, you can look at the map but because of Israeli efforts to integrate settlements to such a degree into the social, economic fabric of Israel they have become like two Siamese twins.”
- “A lot of people have talked of the need to ban settlement products… But going back to what I said about the undifferentiated nature of Israel’s economy…you can also talk about the financial sector. The fact that Israeli banks play an instrumental role in the promotion and expansion of the Israeli settlement project in terms of the provision of loans and mortgages… At the same time, EU financial institutions are engaged on a daily basis in financial transactions with the Israeli banks. Because of the fungibility of funds, at the moment it is impossible to say whether the EU funds that go toward Israeli banks. whether they make their way to settlements.” (emphasis added)
- “… yesterday somebody said ‘What is Israel scared of?’ Well, I hasten to say, Israel is scared of this. The fact that you start to go after… Israeli entities that have links to settlements even if they are based outside of the settlements. This is where you start to have an impact.”
- “What is needed… is concerted effort to speed up and deepen this differentiation and this can be achieved through public pressure… At the same time it is very much necessary for Palestinian leaders and Palestinian civil society to continue holding the EU’s feet to the fire and point out when the EU is deficiently implementing its own legislation… This track does offer the best of mean of starting to chip away at Israeli impunity in the occupied territories.” (emphasis added)
Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)
[2011 donors include (latest available; accessed October 7, 2015): Sweden ($1,389,503), Spanish Commission ($645,220), European Commission ($534,745),Catholic Relief Services ($152,822), Australian Agency International ($104,364), United Kingdom Development for International Development ($75,200), Dan Church Aid – Denmark ($44,795).]
Jad Isaac, General Director of the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ, Bethlehem branch):
- “Israel is facing …. virtually no security threats, which makes Israeli leaders reluctant to make any real concessions to the Palestinians.”
- “This government has managed to indoctrinate the Israeli public opinion… [that] there is historic attachment to Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem will be united as the eternal capital of Israel and demonizing our president, saying that there is no Palestinian partner.”
[2014 donors include UK (308,403), Switzerland (NIS 210,090), Norway (231,135).]
Daniel Seidmann of Terrestrial Jerusalem:
- “Allow me to begin on a personal note. Sitting here over the last 24 hours plus, I am not only sitting here as an expert, I am sitting here as an Israeli and it has not been a pleasant experience. Please don’t misunderstand me. I have not encountered one iota of hostility towards myself, but it’s uncomfortable because I’ve heard so much criticism against Israel and what disturbs me is not what I disagree with… but how much I agree with the criticisms that I’ve heard of my own government, but at the end of the day I’m among friends.”
Walid Assaf, Palestinian Minister, Director of Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission in Birzeit, and has worked with UNRWA, accused Israel of “Judaization measures” and of “building a racist State.”
- Israeli policies amount to “colonization, which could lead to ethnic cleansing.”
- Urged “third States to support… the Palestinian bid for full membership in the United Nations. The international community should stand by the Palestinians in asking the International Criminal Court to try the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes against them.”
- The “United Nations should adopt the term ‘colonization’ in place of ‘occupation’, and ‘colonizer’ instead of ‘settlers’.”