Norwegian NGO Funding: Peace and Coexistence, or Boycotts and Apartheid Rhetoric?
- The Norwegian government provides tens of millions of Norwegian kroner (NOK) annually to politicized NGOs that operate in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. Some of these NGOs are involved in anti-Israel boycott campaigns and the Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway.
- Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), which received NOK 49 million from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) in 2007 for its work with the Palestinians, accused Israel of “war crimes” and “collective punishment,” is active in the Stop the Wall Campaign, uses “apartheid” rhetoric, and supported the so-called Free Gaza Movement. NPA also funds other anti-Israel NGOs and partners with them.
- The Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC) receives MFA humanitarian funds for emergency medical assistance. A NORWAC representative, Dr. Mads Gilbert, has engaged in radical propaganda, including justifying the 9/11 attacks and false claims regarding the Gaza conflict.
- The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) partnered with Palestinian “right of return” NGO Badil on a report on the security barrier. The report labels the barrier a “crime against humanity,” and does not call for a halt to the terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians that led to the barrier’s construction.
- Norwegian Church Aid supports many NGOs with anti-Israel agendas, including Bat Shalom and EAPPI, and is an “important affiliate” of the Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway. NCA attacked the Norwegian government for refusing to transfer money to the “Hamas government” in Gaza.
- The MFA funds Israeli NGOs B’Tselem, PCATI, HaMoked, and Gisha. The Norwegian Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority supports extreme groups Al-Haq, Al Mezan, PCHR, and Miftah. During the Gaza conflict, these NGOs condemned Israel, misrepresenting international humanitarian law to delegitimize Israeli self-defense measures.
- NORAD supports a number of NGOs active in “anti-wall” campaigns, including the Norwegian Association of NGOs for Palestine, the “coordinator for the Norwegian Tear-Down the Wall Campaign and the Norwegian Boycott Israel Campaign.”
- On February 4, 2010, the Deputy Head of the Norwegian Mission to Israel wrote to NGO Monitor with a full list of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs that received government funding in 2009. In addition to the NGOs mentioned in this report, the letter named: Ir Amim, Machsom Watch, Emek Shaveh, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Geneva Initiative, Yesh Din, Peace Now, the Maan Development Center, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and Al-Dameer. See the full letter below.
Background: Norwegian Aid to the Palestinians
According to a 2009 review commissioned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the Palestinian Authority is “the second largest recipient of aid from the Norwegian Government, after Sudan.” This “reflects the prominence of the ‘Middle East Peace Process’ in the Norwegian Foreign Policy agenda” for which “the overarching purpose has been … to contribute to a two-state solution.”
In addition, Norway channels significant funds via Norwegian and Palestinian NGOs. The Norwegian NGOs receive major funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and lesser funding from NORAD, which officially “provides long-term support for capacity building of the civil society, while MFA reserves its NGO funds for more acute humanitarian aid and emergency support.”
Since 1999, the Norwegian government has provided grants to “solidarity organizations, development organizations, humanitarian organizations, political parties, professional and labour organizations, religious groups and research institutes” operating in the PA. The NORAD review found that “[t]he complex administrative management of MFA/Norad grants makes it difficult for the different sections within MFA/Norad to have a complete picture of the support to civil society organizations.”
Norwegian development assistance totaled NOK 21.8 billion in 2007. Of this amount, bilateral assistance (including multi-bilateral assistance) accounted for NOK 15.7 billion. Norway lists the “Palestinian Administered Areas” as the third biggest “recipient country” of bilateral assistance in 2007, having received NOK 622 million. According to the external review of NORAD, “planning figures for 2008 indicate[d] a further increase, to 800 million, a 400% increase in less than 10 years.”1
Of the bilateral assistance given to the PA in 2007, NOK 3 million were given through international NGOs, NOK 23 million through local NGOs, NOK 139 million through Norwegian NGOs and NOK 1.5 million through regional NGOs. (In 2006, the “Palestinian Area” received NOK 563 million.) The sources of the remaining funding not provided through NGOs were not listed and were likely provided through the UN or other international bodies that are out of the scope of this analysis.
Funding to local NGOs from the Norwegian MFA is channeled through the Norwegian Representative Office (NRO) in the Palestinian Authority. Figures for the specific allocation of funds to NGOs in general or individual organizations are not readily available from these governmental bodies, and neither the MFA nor the NRO has responded to e-mailed enquiries from NGO Monitor, reflecting a lack of transparency. Hence, the funding information on the MFA and NRO may not be comprehensive.
Additionally, the NORAD-commissioned review found that “[s]everal of the [Palestinian] partners highlighted the advantage of having the Norwegian MFA as a back donor, as most other donors have stricter and more time consuming procedures for changes of projects, and are also less prone to finance projects that can be politically sensitive.” This suggests a lack of oversight and a willingness to overlook the use of Norwegian funding for politicized purposes, which may have been designated for “humanitarian aid and emergency support.”
The role of the Norwegian MFA in politicized NGO projects was highlighted when Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store “praised” the book Eyes in Gaza by NORWAC representatives Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse (see below), which accused Israel of a “monstrous, systematically implemented and comprehensive massacre” in Gaza.
The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation/Direktoratet for utviklingssamarbeid (NORAD) is the main actor in Norwegian development policy and “politically and technically responsible for Norwegian development cooperation.” Its stated functions are “to advise the aid administration, provide funding for Norwegian and international development NGOs, and carry out quality assurance and evaluation of Norway‘s development co-operation activities.”
In an e-mail from a NORAD official, NGO Monitor received “an overview of NORAD support to NGO projects in Palestinian areas in 2008.”2
Norwegian People’s Aid
The NPA, as mentioned above, is funded by both the Norwegian MFA and by NORAD; however the organization claims that its work in “Palestine” is financed mainly by NORAD. In an e-mail, NORAD official Gunvor W. Skancke explained that MFA funding is intended for emergency operations and NORAD support is for long-term development work with Palestinian partners. In 2007, NPA received NOK 122,290,000 from NORAD for its global work. Skancke claimed that in 2007 NORAD provided NOK 20 million for Palestinian projects.
Other NORAD projects
NORAD’s partner base listed its partners in the “Palestinian Administered Areas,” including Norwegian Church Aid (NOK 3,299,000 in 2008) and Norwegian People’s Aid (NOK 9,465,000 in 2008). In addition to development and humanitarian projects in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, NORAD provided support to organizations that are involved with “anti-wall” campaigns:
- Delta International KFUK-KFUM / Delta Internasjonalt KFUK-KFUM. KFUK-KFUM is listed as member of the Norwegian “Riv Muren kampanjen” (“Tear-Down the Wall campaign”).
- The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions/Landsorganisasjonen i Norge (LO) receives NORAD funding. LO is listed as an affiliate of the Norwegian Stop the Wall Campaign. On January 8, 2009, LO condemned Israel’s “rocket attacks on Gaza and its invasion by land forces” and stated that “[a]ssaults and the killing of civilians cannot be defended.”
- Union of Education Norway/Utdanningsforbundet is still listed among member organizations of the Norwegian “Riv Muren kampanjen” (“Tear-Down the Wall campaign”). In 2008, the Union of Education Norway received NOK 582,000 from NORAD.
Other organizations are listed on the 2008 overview of NGO projects in Palestinian areas obtained from NORAD, yet they are not included in NORAD’s partner base. For instance, NOK 240,000 was granted to the Norwegian Association of NGOs for Palestine (Fellesutvalget for Palestina), which defines itself as is “an umbrella for Norwegian non-governmental organizations working for the rights and freedom of the Palestinian People” and is “the coordinator for the Norwegian Tear-Down the Wall Campaign and the Norwegian Boycott Israel Campaign.”
Impact of government funding for politicized NGOs
In contrast to Norway’s stated objectives of humanitarian aid and long-term development, much of its NGO funding is not used for these noble purposes.
The diversion of funding and the lack of accountability are facilitated by the central reliance on political NGOs, which receive approximately one-third of this Norwegian government support. NGO Monitor’s detailed analyses of the activities of these Norwegian, Palestinian, Israeli, and international NGOs demonstrate that in many cases, these programs are counterproductive to development, coexistence, and cooperation. The Norwegian government is funding highly politicized groups that regularly demonize Israel, while failing to hold these NGOs accountable. In addition to financing activities that are contrary to stated Norwegian regional goals, including democracy and peace, Norway’s support lends legitimacy to these NGOs and their activities.
Norwegian Government-Funded NGOs
Norwegian People’s Aid/Norsk Folkehjelp
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is one of the biggest and most highly regarded of Norway‘s humanitarian and development NGOs. It is funded both by the MFA and by NORAD. In 2007, NPA received NOK 83 million from the MFA. According to an e-mail from NORAD’s Assistant Director of the Civil Society Department, Gunvor W. Skancke, in 2007, NPA received NOK 29 million for emergency operations in the Palestinian Authority.
NPA describes itself as “a humanitarian organization rooted in the Norwegian Labour Movement” and clearly states that it is “not a politically neutral organization.” Nevertheless, it receives government funding to promote this openly biased agenda, which often fuels the conflict rather than contributing to compromise and mutual understanding.
NPA’s activities in support of demonization:
- Accusations of “Collective Punishment”3 and “War Crimes”: On January 6, 2009, NPA Secretary General Petter Eide accused Israel of subjecting the Palestinian population in Gaza to “collective punishment.” The organization has also issued a petition entitled “Stop Israel’s War Crimes!,” which refers to Israel’s alleged “disproportionate use of violence” and “clear violations of international humanitarian law.”
- Support for the Free Gaza Movement: In August 2008, NPA expressed “appreciation and congratulations” to the Free Gaza Movement for “breaking the siege” in the provocative “Gaza boat” campaign in support of the Hamas leadership. Under the façade of “humanitarian aid,” these fringe activists promoted their campaign by referring to Israel as “Palestine,” its creation as the “Nakba” (catastrophe), and accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing.”
- Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway: NPA’s website promotes the Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway, and displays an illustration of the security barrier and the text, “Riv muren i Palestina. Trodde du Apartheid var historie?” (“Tear the Wall in Palestine. Did you think Apartheid was history?”). The use of the false apartheid analogy is a central part of the Durban strategy of demonization and political warfare against Israel’s legitimacy.
Examples of NPA support for politicized NGOs:
- NPA is listed as member of the Norwegian Association of NGOs for Palestine (Fellesutvalget for Palestina, further discussed below), which is the coordinator for the Norwegian Tear-Down the Wall Campaign and the Norwegian Boycott Israel Campaign.
- The Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway lists NPA as one of its affiliates.
- The Ma’an Development Center lists NPA among its “past and present international contributors and partners.” In 2009, the MDC published “Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions – lessons learned in effective solidarity,” a guide to grassroots and international BDS campaigns.
- According to its website, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC) is supported by NPA.
- NPA also funds the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE), a signatory to a petition which calls for the academic boycott of Israel. PACE also partners with PARC, and is a member of the Palestinian Environment NGOs Network, PENGON, which includes a number of highly politicized NGOs.
- NPA cooperates with several local partners, among them Badil. NPA and Badil collaborated on the “Training and Participation for Palestinian Refugees” project.
MFA Funding for Emergency Relief to Gaza (NORWAC)
The MFA allocates funds to several humanitarian organizations that provide emergency medical aid and assistance to the wounded and injured in Gaza. The funds are channeled primarily through the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Financial support is also provided to the Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC) ostensibly to provide health-care services in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Health. However, since arriving in Gaza, NORWAC representative Dr. Mads Gilbert has repeatedly and falsely accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians and invoked a comparison with the 1982 events in Sabra and Shatila. In a December 2009 lecture, Gilbert reportedly pointed out that “[a]ccording to President Shimon Peres, the implementation of the war, went 90 percent according to plan. The intention, in other words, was to kill 90 percent of the civilians.” He also referred to Israeli drones as “horrible Israeli devil machines.”
Another NORWAC representative publicly voiced his suspicion that Israel used white phosphorous illegally and DIME weaponry in Gaza and claimed “the war launched by Israel has been targeting civilians in particular.”
NORWAC director-general Erik Fosse endorsed the “Gaza Freedom March” coordinated by the “International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza,” which claims that the march is “part of a broader strategy to end the Israeli occupation by targeting nonviolently its flagrant violations of international law from the house demolitions and settlements to the curfews and torture.”
Norwegian Refugee Council
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) describes itself as “an independent humanitarian organization whose task is to assist and protect people who have been forced to flee their countries, or their homes within their country, due to war or conflict.” NRC “has been active in the Palestinian Territories since 2006,” “providing protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons.” In 2008, NRC allocated NOK 925,000 to the “Palestine Territories,” all of which was provided by the Norwegian MFA.
NRC is a member of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), whose members in 2006–2007 included American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), Caritas, Diakonia, Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), Ford Foundation, Oxfam (Great Britain, Quebec), Save the Children (Sweden, UK, US), and World Vision. Many of these NGOs have an anti-Israeli political bias. Together with 28 other AIDA members, NRC was a signatory to a statement (date not specified), which “urge[s] all responsible parties including the State of Israel which remains the occupying power with ‘effective control’ of Gaza, to refrain from actions that collectively punish civilians.”
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)
The Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) (established in 1998 by the Norwegian Refugee Council) reported that it received $412,042 from the Norwegian MFA in 2008, which made up more than 15 percent of its budget. NRC programs include a response to the “humanitarian disaster” in Gaza, which involves pressuring the international community to help stop the “war and the atrocities.” In 2008, the IDMC apparently received and executed projects for UNRWA in the West Bank and in Gaza.
IDMC regularly negates Israel’s right to security in its human rights analyses, as is the case with a recent news alert on the recent Gaza operation, where the context of Hamas’ rocket firing into Israeli territory was completely ignored.
In 2006, IDMC, together with NRC and Badil, co-published a study on the security barrier entitled “Displaced by the Wall: Pilot Study on Forced Displacement Caused by the Construction of the West Bank Wall and its Associated Regimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Badil is a radical Palestinian NGO that promotes the “Right of Return” and provides active support to boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel.
Much of the report is taken up by emotive accounts of Palestinian children and their objection to “Israel’s policy of separation and isolation.” It labels the construction of the barrier “a crime against humanity” and a “war crime” but fails to weigh the context of widespread Palestinian terrorism that led to the construction of the barrier. While the report calls on the UN to implement the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel to “dismantle the Wall,” and on the PA to advocate for the rights of Palestinian IDPs, it does not call for a halt to the violence against Israeli civilians.
Norwegian Church Aid/Kirkens Nødhjelp
Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) states on its website that it receives money from MFA and from NORAD. In 2007, NCA received NOK 178.5 million from the MFA and NOK 119.9 million from NORAD.
Following Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2006, NCA, along with NRC (see above) and Norwegian People’s Aid (see below), criticized the Norwegian government for “withdrawing economic support” to the “Hamas government.” These groups claimed that “[i]t is difficult to see that Hamas in government position has acted in a way that should lead to the economic sanctions against the Palestinian government that these cuts in reality are.”
NCA’s partner organizations in Israel include:
- Bat Shalom (a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace), which calls for the Palestinian “right of return” and holds an annual “Alternative Independence/Nakbah day”;
- Parents Circle-Families Forum (PCFF) ? a “joint reconciliation mission” comprised of Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families;
- Rabbis for Human Rights.
NCA’s Palestinian partner organizations (NCA only lists groups with websites) include:
- Middle East Council of Churches/Department of Service of Palestinian Refugees (MECC/DSPR);
- Lutheran World Federation (LWF);
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL);
- World Council of Churches/Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC/EAPPI);
- Jerusalem Center for Women (JCW);
- Center for Applied Research and Education (CARE);
- The Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture (TRC), which has, inter alia, referred to Israel’s “Apartheid Wall which is designed to strangle Palestinian life in general.”
NCA is a member of Action by Churches Together International (ACT International). Additionally, the Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway lists NCA as one of its most important affiliates in the country. For NCA’s response to this report, see below.
Médecins Sans Frontières
The MFA and NORAD both provide substantial funding to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The MFA donated €7,695,000 to MSF in 2007. According to Assistant Director of the Civil Society Department in NORAD Gunvor W. Skancke, MFA funding for MSF’s Palestinian operations was only in place until 2005. This is a welcome development, as while MSF is active in the Palestinian Authority and works with children affected by traumatic stress, the organization sometimes departs from its humanitarian aid mandate. For example, in a press release titled “Temporary halt to Gaza bombing a paltry response as extreme violence victimizes civilians” of January 7, 2009, MSF makes no mention of Hamas’ role in the conflict whatsoever. Instead, it focuses on condemning Israel’s operation against Hamas as “affecting civilians indiscriminately” and its toll as “indicative of extreme violence indiscriminately affecting civilians.”
B’Tselem lists the MFA as a donor. Research has shown that B’Tselem’s methodology is problematic, often inconsistent, and reflects the organization‘s political agenda. As with the global campaign against Israel’s security barrier, B’Tselem was at the forefront of labeling Israeli responses to terror from Gaza as “collective punishment.” B’Tselem also claimed that Israel violated international humanitarian law in Gaza in 2008, including “excessive and disproportionate force,” a lack of distinction between civilians and combatants, and the use of “prohibited weapons.” A number of independent reports have seriously questioned B’Tselem’s credibility, and leveled charges of “deception” and distortions.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, PCATI, listed the Norwegian MFA as a supporter in 2006 (according to the Israeli Registry of Non-profits), and the organization’s website still lists the Norwegian MFA and the Royal Norwegian Embassy as donors. PCATI’s activities are highly political, and its campaigns extend far beyond the specifics of its mission statement. In December 2006, the Israeli High Court rejected PCATI’s petition on targeted killings, on the grounds of legitimate self-defense against terror. During the recent Gaza operation, PCATI accused Israel of having inflicted “indiscriminate damage” on “innocent Palestinian civilians” and even petitioned the Supreme Court, accusing the IDF of deliberately targeting medical personnel and ambulances.
The Norwegian MFA is listed as a funder on the Gisha website. Gisha is an Israeli NGO, which issues pseudo-legal briefs to attack Israeli policies. In December 2008, Gisha issued a 12-page “position paper,” “Gaza Closure Defined: Collective Punishment, Position Paper on the International Law Definition of Israeli Restrictions.” It promotes the false claims that Israel is responsible for “occupied” Gaza under international law, and that Israel is under a legal obligation to grant “freedom of movement” to Gaza residents. The NGO also claims that responses to Hamas attacks aimed at civilians lack a “concrete military objective,” while discounting the tons of humanitarian aid provided by Israel to Gaza and ignoring Israel’s legal obligations under international anti-terror treaties. A report issued by Israeli lawyers Justus Reid Weiner and Avi Bell details some of the fallacies in Gisha’s legal arguments.
HaMoked, which lists the Norwegian MFA as a funder in 2007 (according to documents received from the Israeli Registry of Non-Profits, in 2006 Norway provided $210,000), is an Israeli NGO that claims to assist Palestinians who are “subjected to the Israeli occupation which causes severe and ongoing violation of their rights.” According to the Israeli Ministry of Justice, a 2007 HaMoked report utilized “questionable methodology” and a “lack of verifiable sources.” In 2006, State Prosecutor Nira Mashraki argued that HaMoked’s work to defend human rights was seriously compromised by its one-sided approach, arguing that “the organization’s self-presentation as ‘a human rights organization’ has no basis in reality and is designed to mislead.”
MFA funding through NRO
In addition to the above-mentioned funding from the MFA, all funding given through the Norwegian Representative Office (NRO) originates from the MFA. NGOs listing NRO ? and hence the MFA ? as a donor include:
- Al Mezan- The Norwegian Representative Office is listed as one of the core donors of Al Mezan. Al Mezan’s activities reflect a radical anti-Israel agenda, including promoting claims of “Israeli war crimes.” During the January 2009 Gaza operation, Al Mezan issued numerous press releases, including allegations of “Israeli massacres,” “slaughtering civilians,” “scandalous war crimes,” and “despicable disregard to civilian life.”
- Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)- The Representative Office of Norway is listed as a funder in PCHR’s 2008 annual report, and is still listed on the NGO’s website. PCHR regularly describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid” and accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment. PCHR referred to the abduction of Gilad Shalit and the attack against an IDF outpost at Kerem Shalom as “resistance.” PCHR is also a leader in the anti-Israel “lawfare” movement and has worked to bring cases in England, New Zealand, the US, Spain, and Switzerland. During the Gaza war, PCHR’s anti-Israel campaigning included accusations of Israeli “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” “collective punishment,” “indiscriminate killing and continued systematic destruction of all the Palestinian institutions and civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip.”
- Miftah- The NRO is listed as a supporter in Miftah’s 2008 annual report. Miftah has described Israel as an apartheid state, has referred to suicide bombers as “resistance activists,” and was active in the 2001 Durban Conference. During the Gaza war, Miftah made false claims of an Israeli “massacre,” invoking the strategy used in Jenin in 2002.
- Al-Haq- The Representative Office of Norway granted $83,000 to the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq in 2007. Al-Haq was an active participant in the World Conference against Racism held in Durban in 2001, regularly submits politically motivated reports to the UN Human Rights Council, and is a leader in the anti-Israel “lawfare” movement, bringing lawsuits against Israel in Europe and North America. Its general director, Shawan Jabarin, has been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan on account of his alleged ties to the PFLP. On July 7, 2008, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the visa denial because it examined reliable evidence that Jabarin is “among the senior activists of the Popular Front terrorist organization.” During the Gaza operation, Al-Haq lobbied in the UN Human Rights Council, accusing Israel of “war crimes,” “the willful killing of civilians and the extensive destruction of civilian property,” and “widespread and systematic attack directed against a civilian population bringing them to the level of crimes against humanity.”
As demonstrated in this detailed analysis, Norwegian government money continues to be channeled through the MFA and NORAD to many politicized Norwegian, Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs. NGO Monitor’s detailed research demonstrates that this funding supports NGO political campaigns that employ the “apartheid” rhetoric that fuels the conflict and Israeli distrust, misrepresent international humanitarian law, delegitimize Israeli self-defense, promote boycotts, and erase Palestinian terror. As opposed to engendering coexistence, many NGOs often promote hate and conflict.
Indeed, the radical political campaigns promoted by some of these NGOs continue to contradict objectives that the Norwegian government claims to pursue, such as the establishment of a Palestinian state through a two-state solution and laying the foundation for resuming peace negotiations based on mutual acceptance and compromise. The promotion of democracy, human rights, and good governance is also hindered by the financing of NGO campaigns that focus on one-sidedly attacking Israel, while ignoring Palestinian human rights abuses, corruption, and factional violence.
The Norwegian government should independently and professionally reevaluate its funding to NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict, while demanding accountability and insuring an end to the rhetoric of hate that is counterproductive to peace. Without a clear policy that repudiates these politicized campaigns, the impact of Norwegian funding for these NGOs will continue to damage important humanitarian and development goals.
Correspondence with Norwegian officials on this report
1) Norwegian Church Aid, received February 8, 2010
To: Naftali Balanson Managing Editor NGO Monitor
Cc: Atle Sommerfelt
Dear Naftali Balanson,
NCA have received the draft of your study. Our General Secretary has read it. I have to apologize for late feedback.
With regards to the section written about NCA we can confirm that NCA is partnering with local churches and their diaconal institutions in Israel and the Palestinian occupied area as listed. Your study lists correctly the organizations we cooperated with in 2009. The support implies mainly assistance to Christian hospitals and schools that have provided quality care and education for decades.
NCA is working with Israelis and maintain cooperation with the Israeli organizations; Rabbis for Human Rights, Bat Shalom and the Israeli-Palestinian organization Parent Circle. We do not share your view that Bat Shalom has an “anti-Israel” agenda. Neither does EAPPI of the World Council of Churches. Bat Shalom is an Israeli feminist organization that seek to defend women’s rights and this may include criticizing their own government.
Please also note that the footnote is not linked to the document referred to. NCA is also quoted without source.
2) Norwegian Ambassador to Israel, received February 4, 2010
- The most recent publicly available figures are from 2007, casting doubt on claims that anyone can “apply to gain access to information about the funding” (Jakken Blorn Lian, “Right of Reply: Norway is not anti-Semitic,” Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2009. Available at: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=2&cid=1260447421469&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull.)
- From Gunvor W. Skancke, Assistant Director, Civil Society Department, Norad, Jan. 22, 2009.
- Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, regularly level charges that Israeli “blockades” or “sanctions” on Gaza constitute “collective punishment.” These accusations are both legally and factually false. According to international law, the term “collective punishment” refers to the imposition of criminal penalties upon a group of people as a result of the crimes of one or more individuals or groups. Restriction on the flow of goods in a war environment, or other forms of economic sanctions, does not constitute collective punishment. The level of humanitarian aid required during war time is specified in Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Pursuant to this standard, Israel has allowed access for humanitarian supplies well in excess of its legal obligations.