Electronic Intifada (EI), a website that publishes articles that compare Israelis to Nazis and promotes campaigns for anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions), has received funding indirectly from the Dutch government. The Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), a Netherland-based NGO has supported EI since at least 2007, including a 3-year funding commitment. ICCO receives 95% of its budget from the Dutch government and the EU.
In 2008, ICCO received €124 million in Dutch government funds, representing 90% of its €139 million budget. An additional €8.5 million (6.1%) came from the European Commission (Annual Report, p. 135). When NGO Monitor contacted ICCO regarding funding for EI, our researcher was directed to the coordinator of government funds, Mieke Zagt. Ms. Zagt did not return NGO Monitor’s phone calls or emails.
As documented by NGO Monitor, EI plays a central role in the Durban strategy of political warfare against Israel, with frequent accusations of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “slow genocide.” Articles on the EI site justify violence against civilians, call Gaza a “concentration camp,” and label Palestinian participation in peace talks as “collaboration.” EI has an extensive section supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. EI co-founder Ali Abunimah, as well as other contributors, also employ antisemitic and anti-Israel themes in their writings and Twitter statements.
Despite the evidence to the contrary, ICCO praised EI as an “internationally recognized daily news source” that “contributes to a balanced opinion.”
In an article (Jerusalem Post, November 26, 2010), journalist Benjamin Weinthal quoted Netherlands Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal: “I will look into the matter personally. If it appears that…ICCO does fund [EI], it will have a serious problem with me.”
In sharp contrast, Chairman of ICCO’s Executive Board Marinus Verweij called EI “an important source of information” and said “in no way is the EI anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.” The Post also reported that ICCO informed the Dutch government that EI “was funded with Dutch subsid[ies] until 2010. From 2010 on it has allocated only non-subsidy funding.” The evidence for this claim has not been provided.
NGO Monitor research on ICCO has also uncovered significant conflicts of interest concerning EI. ICCO Middle East program officer, Mieke Zagt, who is responsible for coordinating the funding, has also published in EI, and is a vocal proponent of BDS. Additionally, EI contributor Adri Nieuwhof has worked at ICCO as an interim manager in the Middle East department, and as a consultant on other issues. EI co-founder Arjan El Fassed was also an ICCO staff member.