Summary: This Palestinian NGO claims to work for the betterment of the environment, while using the cover of green issues to pursue the Palestinian agenda through its blatant anti-Israel political activities.
Formed in 1998, PENGON describes itself as "a coordinating body between the different Palestinian NGOs working in the field of environment. It aims to serve Palestinian environmental issues by coordinating endeavors between the member organizations, … and enhancing relations … with other organizations domestically and abroad, such as local government agencies and international environmental organizations."
PENGON lists its members, including overtly politicized Palestinian NGOs analyzed by NGO Monitor, such as the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and Law, whose virulently anti-Israel activities were highlighted in a US Congressional investigation into the Ford Foundation’s funding of Palestinian NGOs.
While PENGON lists a large number of potential sources of funding for environmental projects in the Palestinian areas, it is unclear as to which of these sources actually provide funds for PENGON independently of its constituent members.
PENGON’s formal list of activities includes environmental awareness campaigns, lobbying and advocacy, a newsletter, and an environmental resource center.
However, its website reveals PENGON’s primary political agenda, claiming that Palestinian environmental problems are primarily "due to violent Israeli occupation practices on the ground, including the confiscation of land, illegal settlement activities, the uprooting of trees, the destruction of Palestinian agricultural land, the use of Palestinian occupied lands by Israel as dumping ground for poisonous industrial waste, and the exhausting of water resources and the polluting of the water ground reservoirs by settlements."
In a blatant effort to demonize Israel, PENGON published an appeal from the Palestine Emergency Committee – "Jenin Refugee Camp Massacre – The Atrocities Must Be Revealed" thus deliberately promoting the myths and gross distortions of events that took place in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. Despite the fact that the accusations aimed at Israel were quickly proven to be false, and the individuals and organizations that made them did so without credibility, PENGON has chosen to continue to promote this overt example of anti-Israel propaganda. Referring to a group of refugees, this statement claims that it "was rare to find anyone…who lost only one family member. Most lost several loved ones, if not their entire families." The statement on the PENGON website repeats many more entirely false and demonizing claims: "Witnesses recounted how people were buried alive by the soldiers in graves and holes dug in the ground, rows of injured people were laid flat on the ground and were then crushed to death by a tank that drove over their bodies, men were tied and made to face the wall and killed, execution style."
Rather than focusing its priorities on environmental issues, PENGON also promotes a campaign against Israel’s security barrier, which uses pro-Palestinian vocabulary, such as "Apartheid Wall". PENGON has published a detailed report that concentrates on political rather than ostensible environmental concerns. PENGON’s political campaigning extends to accusations of "transfer" of residents of a Palestinian village and claims that the village itself is to be destroyed to make way for the security fence.
Environmental issues also take a backseat in PENGON’s January 2003 publication "Environmental Watch Online", which concentrates primarily on "The Apartheid Wall", using provocative and politicized language.
Therefore, PENGON, despite including a number of members claiming to be concerned with Palestinian environmental issues, uses such concerns instead as a cover for its politicized anti-Israel activities and campaigning.