In the past 18-months, at least 15 political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in anti-Israel advocacy, as well as their UN allies, have issued publications accusing Israel of “apartheid.” This offensive term is used to advance a narrative of unparalleled Israeli immorality, and to promote demonization through BDS and lawfare, including in the International Criminal Court (ICC). As shown below, many of these NGOs are funded by European governments and the EU.

The apartheid smear has a long history. Building on the campaigns led by the Soviet and Arab blocs in the UN (including the 1975 “Zionism is racism” resolution), the NGO Forum at the 2001 UN conference in Durban referred to “Israel’s brand of apartheid and ethnic cleansing methods” to justify “a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel.”

To exploit the apartheid claim, HRW and the other NGOs erase the basic nature of the South African regime, which was characterized by systematic, institutionalized oppression, particularly in the realm of political and civil rights. In contrast, and notwithstanding the ongoing ethno-national conflict, Israel’s non-Jewish population has full rights, thus rendering the analogy moot. No other regime, aside from South Africa, has ever been deemed to meet the international definition of apartheid, not even murderous and oppressive regimes practicing separation based on race, religion, and gender such as Saudi Arabia and China. The abuse of the “apartheid” label in the context of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a particularly cynical appropriation of the suffering of South Africans under the actual apartheid regime. (For detailed analysis of the apartheid canard, see NGO Apartheid State Campaign: Deliberately Immoral or Intellectually Lazy?)

The current wave coincides with developments at the ICC (most recently, the March 2021 decision to open an investigation against Israel). The NGOs are echoing a 700-page submission in 2017 by four Palestinian NGOs to the ICC Prosecutor, alleging that “Israel persecutes the occupied Palestinian population and subjects them to the crimes of persecution and apartheid” (emphasis added).

The outpouring of reports, webinars, academic articles, and social media posts reflect a concerted and well-financed attack by EU- and European-government-funded NGOs.

Recent Elements in the NGO Apartheid Campaign

Funding for NGOs in the Apartheid Campaign

  1. Al-Haq– Al-Haq’s funders include the European Union, Ireland, Italy, Norway, and Germany.
  2. BADIL – BADIL’s funders include Sweden, NGO Development Center, and Spain.
  3. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – PCHR’s funders include European Union, Ireland, Switzerland, Norwegian Refugee Council, and the United Nations.
  4. Al-Mezan – Al-Mezan’s funders include the European Union, Netherlands, Sweden, NGO Development Center, Norwegian Refugee Council, and the United Nations.
  5. Addameer – Addameer’s funders include Ireland, Switzerland, and Spain.
  6. Breaking the Silence – Breaking the Silence’s funders include the European Union, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, NGO Development Center, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Trocaire (Ireland), DanChurchAid (Denmark), Misereor (Germany), Medico International (Germany), and the UNDP.
  7. Yesh Din – Yesh Din’s funders include the European Union, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Norwegian Refugee Council, Misereor (Germany), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), and the United Nations.
  8. B’Tselem – B’Tselem’s donors include Denmark, European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, NGO Development Center, Bread for the World (Germany), Christian Aid (UK), DanChurchAid (Denmark), Trocaire (Ireland), and the United Nations.
  9. Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) – PHR-I’s funders include Switzerland, United Kingdom, Diakonia (Sweden), and the United Nations.
  10. European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) – ECFR’s donors include Denmark, France, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, Open Society Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
  11. Kerem Navot – Kerem Navot’s funders include Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Diakonia (Sweden), Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Germany), and Medico International (Germany).
  12. Diakonia – Diakonia’s funders include the European Union, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Sweden.
  13. War on Want – War on Want’s funders include Open Society Foundation, Christian Aid, and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Germany).
  14. Adalah Justice Project – AJP’s funders include the Tides Center.
  15. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights – USCPR’s funders include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
  16. Jewish Voice for Peace – JVP’s donors include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Tides Foundation, Violet Jabara Charitable Trust, and the Firedoll Foundation.