Promoting Israel's Isolation: Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands funding for NDC and NGOs
- The NGO Development Center (NDC) has distributed $6 million to 25 NGOs on behalf of the governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Denmark. In some cases, NDC support is in addition to other funding from these governments to the same organizations.
- The grantees include some of the most radical groups operating in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
- Many of the recipients employ “apartheid” rhetoric: Al Mezan, Al Haq, Arab Thought Forum, Badil, ICAHD, Jerusalem Center for Women, JLAC, WATC, and Women for Life.
- NDC provides funds to PCHR, Al Haq, Al Mezan, Al-Dameer, Musawa, and WAC, which promote “war crimes” cases and lawfare against Israeli officials.
- Eleven recipients of these taxpayer funds provided via the NDC are signatories to the Palestinian boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign: Addameer, Al Dameer, Arab Thought Forum, Al Mezan, DCI-PS, JCW, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, PWWSD, Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies, WCLAC, WATC.
- Although the NDC guidelines stated that “[p]riority will also be extended to local organizations working to promote gender equality and rights of women,” only 6 of the 25 grantees focus on these issues. Most link their work on women’s rights with anti-Israel activism.
- NDC “facilitated” and funded the “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct” which demands that Palestinian groups reject “any normalization activities with the occupier, neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.”
- NGO Monitor contacted the four donor governments asking for information and comments before writing this report. All refused to comment.
The NGO Development Center (NDC) is an independent Palestinian organization based in Ramallah that works with NGOs and local groups to “provid[e]…the skills, tools and funds they require to address social needs and promote self-reliance.” In July 2008, NDC began managing pooled funds from the governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Denmark, and recommending “more strategic and enlightened funding decisions.” On their behalf, NDC distributed $6 million to 25 NGOs, including some of the most radical groups operating in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Many of the recipients employ demonizing rhetoric such as “apartheid,” endorse the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, and promote “war crimes” cases against Israeli officials.
Similarly, NDC’s mission statements, projects, and “NGO code of conduct” promote the Palestinian narrative, and advance the Durban strategy and related campaigns. As opposed to peace and cooperation, this European funded “code of conduct” rejects “normalization” with Israel and demands the “right of return” (see below for more detailed analysis).
According to reports from the Danish government, in 2005, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland formed the original multi-donor secretariat, in order to “harmonize their assistance to NGOs working to promote human rights and good governance in Gaza/West Bank.” This project, entitled Mu’assasat, was coordinated by Denmark, and managed by Copenhagen Development Consulting (CDC). As would be repeated in the NDC-stage of the secretariat, Mu’assasat supported a number of NGOs whose campaigns deviate substantially from their human rights claims and exacerbate the conflict. Mu’assasat’s director, Khalil Nakhleh, reflected this politicized agenda, accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and a “system of apartheid and an ideology of exclusion, and rejecting the “2-state solution.” In July 2007, the CDC declared bankruptcy, effectually dissolving the secretariat.
In 2008, the new coalition led by Switzerland, with Sweden, Netherlands, and Denmark, coalesced under the NDC heading. The $6 million in grants covers the period of July 2008 – December 2009. A review was scheduled for mid-2009, but any findings have not been made public.
The NGO recipients
Twenty-five Palestinian and Israeli NGOs were chosen under the Human Rights and Good Governance Program (HR/GG), which claims to support NGOs “which promote, support, protect, and monitor the observance of human rights and good governance in the oPt” 1. The funds were divided in varying increments, ranging from $50,000 (SHAMS Center for Human Rights and Democracy Participation) to $500,000 (HaMoked, Al Mezan and Al Haq). The selection process was conducted by NDC and approved by a steering committee from the four donor countries.
NDC funds can account for a very significant portion of an NGO’s budget. “Large NGOs” (annual budget over $250,000) are eligible to receive 50% of their budgets, while “small NGOs” (annual budget over $100,000) can receive 60%.
Although Denmark’s project description claims that “[p]riority will also be extended to local organizations working to promote gender equality and rights of women,” only 6 of the 25 grantees focus on these issues. Additionally, most of these groups link their work on women’s rights with anti-Israel activism (see below), suggesting that the political positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, not gender equality, guided NDC’s grant-making.
See below for a full list of NGO grantees and analysis of their activities.
NDC – Advancing the Durban Strategy
NDC was apparently chosen to run the program due to its “good and transparent reputation in the donor community” – thereby minimizing the “risk of mismanagement” – and is considered by the secretariat to be “a key provider of technical and managerial capacity building to the [NGO] sector.” However, notwithstanding NDC’s potential technical benefits, its extreme political orientation is counterproductive to the goals of the program.
For instance, NDC’s vision is “[t]o see our people achieve all our national goals, foremost of which is the right of return and establishment of a national, independent, democratic state, with Jerusalem as its capital.” Peace, cooperation, and coexistence are not on its agenda.
Similarly, NDC “facilitated” and funded the “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct,” describing the “ethical and work behavioral patterns within the framework of the functioning of NGOs.” In the code, NDC demands that Palestinian groups reject “any normalization activities with the occupier, neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.” Furthermore, “[n]o endeavor would be carried out if it undermines the inalienable Palestinian rights of establishing statehood and the return of the refugees to their original homes, according to Security Council Resolution 194.” (The misleading reference to a UN Security Council resolution is a distortion. No Security Council resolution endorses the Palestinian “right of return.” There is a General Assembly Resolution 194 that generally addresses the refugee situation following the 1948 War, but it is not legally binding.)
These elements are expressly opposed to the peace process and the regional goals of the donor countries, which state that “dialogue with Israel at different levels is central” (Sweden); “promoting popular support among Palestinians for a peaceful settlement of the conflict with Israel” is an “overarching political goal” (Netherlands); “[t]he vision behind [Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation] …aims to improve the prospects for peace” (Switzerland); and “Palestinian institutions are expected to respect high standards of human rights, tolerance, [and] equality” (Denmark). Moreover, all of these governments support a Jewish State and a Palestinian State existing side-by-side. This goal is incompatible with NDC’s calls for a “right of return.”
NDC’s guidelines for small grants specify “HR organizations that monitor, document and report on violations by the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian human rights” as a criterion for funding. “Eligible activities” include lobbying against Israel internationally: “Launch[ing] an ad-hoc, previously unplanned, international advocacy campaign to influence and change Israeli occupation policy in order to prevent, or stop, emerging HR violations.”
Additionally, the “eligibility requirements” in the NDC “Guidelines for Submission” call for NGOs that engage in “legal representations and litigation related to individual cases of human rights violations.” Indeed, NDC grantees Al Haq, PCHR, and Al Mezan are spearheading the “lawfare” strategy of exploiting universal jurisdiction statutes to harass Israeli officials with “war crimes” cases.
The NGOs Receiving NDC Funds
Many of these NGOs also receive government funds directly from the donor governments, via NGOs funneling government funds, and from various EU mechanisms (which are supported by these same governments). For more details, see NGO Monitor reports: “Danish Funds for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaigns and Politicized NGOs: Government Funding & Support Analysis”; “A Clouded EU Presidency: Swedish Funding for NGO Rejectionism”; “Norwegian NGO Funding: Peace and Coexistence – or Boycotts and apartheid Rhetoric?”.
Addameer (NDC grant $250,000)
Addameer refers to the Israeli army as the “Israeli Occupying Forces,” and accuses Israel of “collective punishment” and a “policy of using Palestinian prisoners as pawns to achieve political and military gains.” Addameer endorsed a UN submission alleging Israeli “war crimes…include[ing] wilful [sic.] killing and the extensive destruction of houses and other civilian property…” In oral testimony to the UN, Addameer claimed that “[t]he main purpose of these policies of the imprisonment was to broke [sic.] the soul of the resistance in the Palestinian people against the occupation.” Addameer also alleged that “since the Israeli occupation…began, 700,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned by the Israeli military”; no source is provided for this incredulous figure2.
Al-Dameer released a statement calling for the “prosecut[ion] [of] the Israeli war criminals” and called for “the PLC to convene in a legal way and to adopt the draft law of the Palestinian Authority to Pursue the IOF committed crimes against the Palestinians.” After the release of the Goldstone “fact-finding” on the Gaza conflict, Al-Dameer called “[t]o prosecute the military commanders and Israeli civilians before the national courts of criminal jurisdiction, to effectuate the principle of international criminal jurisdiction of national courts.” This organization has never issued calls to prosecute Palestinians, including Hamas, for their perpetration of war crimes against and direct targeting of Israeli civilians, in particular, children.
Al Haq ($500,000)
Al Haq lists boycotts among its goals and objectives, and is a leader of the “lawfare” movement to interfere in the diplomatic relations between Israel and countries such as the UK by bringing lawsuits against UK officials to block trade with Israel. General Director Shawan Jabarin has been denied travel visas by Israel and Jordan for his alleged ties to the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group. Al Haq assisted the Bil’in Village Council in bringing a case in Quebec against Canadian corporations, claiming that they were “aiding, abetting, assisting and conspiring with Israel, the Occupying Power.” This NGO was also behind the September 2009 attempt to arrest Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the UK.
Al Mezan ($500,000)
Al Mezan’s activities reflect a radical anti-Israel agenda, including promoting claims of “Israeli war crimes,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “criminal aggression against civilians,” “Israeli massacres,” and “slaughtering civilians.” The organization also offensively employs Nazi and holocaust rhetoric referring to Israeli “incit[ement]” to “holocaust (genocide).” Al Mezan has also joined the lawfare movement, partnering with Al Haq to arrest Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the UK.
Arab Thought Forum (ATF – Multaqa) ($80,000)
ATF consistently uses the language of demonization, employing terms such as “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” and “collective punishment,” while promoting the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign. ATF claims that “the Zionist notion carries racist principles that keep producing Apartheid forms”. This NGO refers to “so called ‘Palestinian Terrorism.’” Until 2009, this NGO partnered with the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, where Richard Goldstone serves as chair of the Executive Committee.
Badil claimed focus is the “right of return.” Badil calls for a “targeted campaign to expose the lies of AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League and to expose the Jewish and Zionist community’s double standards regarding Nakba & Occupation.” Badil also refers to “Israel’s colonial apartheid regime,” “state-sponsored racism,” and “systematic ethnic cleansing,” and alleges that “[i]nstitutionalized racism and discrimination” is the “root cause…displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.”
Claims to focus on “the right to equality and social justice in matters of planning, development, and the allocation of land resources.” But Bimkom regularly opposes the Israeli government’s policy regarding topics completely unrelated to planning rights, including the Gaza War. During the Gaza war, Bimkom, along with other Israeli NGOs, accused Israel of “making wanton use of lethal force which has to date caused the death of hundreds of uninvolved civilians” and “forc[ing]” Palestinians to “live in fear and terror.”
This NGO “acts primarily to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories,” a political objective. While widely considered Israel’s premier human rights organization, B’Tselem has faced serious criticism for its misrepresentations of international law, inaccurate research, skewed statistics (including casualty lists), and selective coverage of violations against Israelis. These problematic methodologies reinforce the Palestinian narrative of victimization and portray Israel as the sole impediment to peace.
Defense of Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS) ($450,000)
DCI-PS regularly exploits the rhetoric of children’s rights, manipulates international law, and campaigns against Israel in the UN and other international frameworks. DCI-PS has falsely accused Israel of “deliberate targeting of civilians” in Lebanon, “terrorizing the civilian population” in Gaza, and “collective punishment.” DCI-PS refers to Israeli “racism,” and promotes the Palestinian narrative of “nakba” and the “right of return” as “a natural and legal right.” DCI-PS referred to the Gaza conflict as Israel’s “illegal act of aggression.”
HaMoked accuses Israel of “war crimes” with only a token reference to Hamas’ “sporadic” rocket fire against Israel civilians. In 2006, Israel’s State Prosecutor asserted that HaMoked’s “self-presentation as ‘a human rights organization’ has no basis in reality and is designed to mislead.” HaMoked called the Gaza War a “punitive operation” and promoted the unverified claim that “[m]any prisoners…were held in pits in the ground…apparently dug by the army.” During the Gaza War, HaMoked distorted international law to criminalize Israeli actions, falsely claiming that “phosphorous and cluster bombs” are “illegal weapons prohibited by International Humanitarian Law.” HaMoked has also compared Israel to “totalitarian countries.”
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) ($80,000)
ICAHD is a radical NGO which utilizes “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” rhetoric and supports the boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement. ICAHD head Jeff Halper regularly refers to the Israeli “matrix of control,” claiming that a bi-national state is the only remaining option resulting from Israel’s “futile attempt to impose an apartheid regime.” ICAHD’s website promotes a “campaign against apartheid,” and accuses Israel of “state terrorism”. Halper has claimed that Israel “wants to enclose [the Palestinians] in a little Bantustan-type state.” ICAHD refers to the demolition of illegally built houses as “discriminatory discourse” and “racist measures.”
Jerusalem Center for Women (JCW) ($30,000)
JWC claims “to stand against to the unjust occupation, oppression, war, apartheid, humiliation, and poverty affecting Palestinian women.” A “fact sheet” refers to the “Annexation wall” and “illegal evict[ion]” of Palestinian families “so that settlers can take up residency.” JWC designed posters with provocative slogans, such as “Ethnic Cleansing in East Jerusalem,” “Stop the Apartheid Wall,” and “Stop the Judaization of Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC – Mossada) ($165,000)
JLAC claims to “[d]efend the Palestinian victims of human rights violations; with accordance to the Palestinian laws and the international law…via legal aid and legal representation.” JLAC published a report entitled, “Rats in the maze: Freedom of Movement in the OPT,” which refers to Israeli “crimes,” “apartheid,” and “collective punishment.” JLAC also wrote a 34-page report calling on the US to freeze military aid to Israel claiming that Israel aims to “destroy all manifestations of Palestinian nationalism and culture.”
Musawa (NDC Grant $150,000)
While the majority of Musawa’s activities appear to focus on securing “the independence of the Judiciary and the legal profession,” in December 2008 Musawa publicized an NGO statement referring to the “Israeli occupying forces” and its “malicious intent to inflict as many casualties as possible.” Musawa executive director wrote a letter to Mahmoud Abbas asking him to support the “prosecution of Israel‘s leaders for war crimes in the international courts” to “bring Israeli leaders and army officials to justice.”
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) ($240,000)
PCATI claims to fight against torture and for prisoner rights. While extensively criticizing alleged Israeli abuses, the group has done virtually no campaigning to uphold the rights of Gilad Shalit – held incommunicado by Hamas for three years in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions. PCATI often lobbies in international forums to promote its one-sided, politicized agenda. PCATI testified in Geneva in front of the UN’s fact finding mission on the Gaza war where they referred to Israel’s “unacceptable collective punishment” and to Palestinian “martyrs.”
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) ($400,000)
PCHR regularly refers to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians as “resistance.” PCHR is a leader in the “lawfare” strategy of exploiting the universal jurisdiction statutes to bring cases against Israeli political and military officials for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” PCHR alleged that almost 70% of all casualties in the Gaza War were civilian, including two senior Hamas military leaders, an unsubstantiated claim that was repeated in the media and in the Goldstone report. PCHR’s figures have been independently disproven by several sources.
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) ($125,000)
In July 2009, PHR-I activists provided first aid training to violent protesters at the security barrier near Bil’in with the political aim of showing “solidarity with the people who fight against the occupation and the building of the wall.” PHR-I engages in political campaigns including attacks against Israel’s Law of Return and the publishing of an article equating Israeli “settlers” to “self-exploding terrorists.” During the Gaza war PHR-I accused Israel of using “extreme and disproportionate force…against the population of Gaza” and of “targeting  medical teams and aid convoys.” Dr. Yoram Blachar, president of the World Medical Association, criticized PHR-I as “a radical political group disguised as a medical organization.”
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) ($130,000)
During the Gaza war, PNGO alleged that Israel’s goal was to “eras[e] the memory of resistance and struggle…so Israel would be free to impose its goals, and instill a culture of obedience, and compliance with the occupying power.” PNGO called for a “war tribunal” and “reparations.” PNGO is a leader of the “National Committee for the BDS Campaign” (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions); PNGO participates in “holding conferences”, “international advocacy” and “media advocacy” in support of BDS.
The Palestinian Working Women Society for Development (PWWSD) ($60,000)
PWWSD “is engaged in resisting the Israeli occupation and all other forms of oppression and discrimination.” In an article entitled, “Avouch Your Legal and Human Responsibilities Towards Victimized Gaza,” PWWSD refers to “Israeli aggression” and “war crimes.”
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies ($70,000)
The Center for Human Rights Studies issued a press release claiming that the center “[s]trongly condemns Israel’s massacre of the civilian population and the willful attacks on educational institutions in the Gaza Strip.” The center also published a report referencing Israeli “collective punishment policy” and “war crimes.”
Center for Human Rights and Democracy Participation (SHAMS) ($50,000)
SHAMS appears to deal solely with internal Palestinian issues and does not make claims about Israeli actions.
Women’s Affairs Center (WAC) ($100,000)
WAC claims to “promote women’s rights and gender equality within the Palestinian society through capacity building, media and communication, video documentation, research and developmental clinic programs.” WAC programs focus on “violence against women,” the “image of Palestinian women in the media.” and “[w]omen’s political participation.” In contrast, WAC was active in condemning Israel during the Gaza conflict. In a statement about the Gaza war, WAC claims that the “war has affected everything without taking the lives of the civilians and their safety into consideration.” WAC alleges that it “witnessed the civilians when being killed by the Israeli army especially the women and children.” WAC calls the war “brutal” and demands “trying Israel in a military court to punish Israel for being war criminal [sic].”
Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) ($100,000)
WATC’s stated ideology is that “the social struggle for the full emancipation of all members of the Palestinian society…must go hand in hand with the national struggle for the liberation of Palestine.” A WATC newsletter asserts that “[t]he Israeli occupation has continued building its wall of apartheid and segregation.” In a letter entitled “Stop Israeli Massacres and the Zionist aggressions on the Gaza Strip immediately,” WATC falsely labeled the Gaza conflict “a war of extermination.”
WCLAC (Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling) ($150,000)
WCLAC stated vision is to “[e]xpos[e], locally and internationally, the practices of Israeli occupation violations against women’s rights.” WCLAC’s other objectives include “development of legislation…which support women and their rights” and to “Eradicate Negative Social Attitudes/Practices Against Women.” WCLAC also claims to have taken “280 cases to court” in 2007. WCLAC director wrote that Israel “us[ed] the threadbare pretext of ‘retaliation against rockets propelled out of Gaza’ resulting in the illegal and unforgivable destruction of civilian life and infrastructure…The world prefers to see us as ‘terrorists,’ thus justifying the unjustifiable…” WCLAC alleges that Israel “targeted” “civilians and civilian buildings.”
Women for Life ($100,000)
Women for Life claims to have been “the first popular committee to begin organizing against the Apartheid Wall in Salfit.” Fatima Khaldi, the founder and director of this NGO, has referred to the IDF as the “Israeli occupation forces” and condemns American aid for the “illegal and immoral Apartheid Wall.” Khaldi has also claims to “reject Israeli violence and racism.”
- OPT – Occupied Palestinian Territory – is a political and not a legal term used by many NGOs.
- If Addameer’s claim of 700,000 imprisoned Palestinians is to be believed, since 1967, 17,500 new prisoners would have to be detained by Israel annually. Even at the height of the Palestinian terror campaign in 2002, the number of Palestinian prisoners averaged around 5000 at any one time. Moreover, given that many of these prisoners were sentenced to multiple year terms or were repeat offenders, the same individuals are included in the figures for each year. Addameer’s statement must be dismissed as nothing more than pure propaganda.