Clarification: Based on statements from NOVACT and PSCC (press release on NOVACT’s website dated February 5, 2017; statement changed on May 10), an article in the Spanish newspaper Intereconomia, and various Arab media, this report originally stated that Munther Amira and Manal Tamimi (affiliated with PSCC and traveling to Spain in partnership with NOVACT) were arrested in Spain. On May 9, 2017, NOVACT claimed in the Jerusalem Post that “Amira and Tamimi were never arrested nor had problems with Spanish authorities.”
There remains significant confusion regarding this incident, which we have been unable to clarify. As a result we have updated the relevant sections in our report.
- Public funding from Spain to politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict is widespread and highly decentralized, correlating to several levels of governance in Spain. Funds are managed and allocated by the central government, autonomous communities, provincial deputations, municipalities, and bar associations – and reflect deep political fissures and regional radicalization.
- Spanish funding has been repeatedly granted to NGOs that carry out political campaigns against Israel. Several grantees have ties to terrorist organizations, promote antisemitism, incite violence, and are involved in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns. Politicized Spanish funding designated for NGO activities in the Arab-Israeli conflict amounted to over €5.1 million in 2015 alone.
- In May 2016, the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation (AVCD) signed an agreement with the Palestinian NGO Addameer to “help Palestinian prisoners,” granting the organization €199,988. Addameer is an affiliate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated a terrorist entity by the EU, US, Canada, and Israel.
- In 2015, the Basque far-left, pro-independence party EH Bildu called for the “immediate release of Khalida Jarrar,” described as a “long-time Palestinian political prisoners’ advocate.” Jarrar, vice chairperson of Addameer, is a senior official of the PFLP. She was indicted in April 2015 for various offenses, including active membership in a terrorist organization (PFLP) and incitement to violence through a call to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Jarrar accepted a plea bargain and was reportedly convicted on “one count of belonging to an illegal organization and another of incitement” receiving a 15 month prison sentence with an additional 10 month suspended sentence. She was released from prison on June 3, 2016.
- Far-left secessionists in Basque regions promote solidarity with other leftist-nationalist movements around the world as part of their political strategy. As put by EH Bildu politician and recently released ETA prisoner Arnaldo Otegi, “We have always recognised the importance of internationalism. We have discovered that struggles need to become more global in their nature.” Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) is a terrorist organization designated as such by the UK and the US.
- Paz con Dignidad (PcD), a Spanish NGO that regularly promotes BDS campaigns, received €607,287 in 2015 in public funding designated for activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Invoking classic antisemitic themes, PcD coordinator Amparo Pernichi claimed in March 2016 that Lord Balfour “asked the Israelis (sic) that lived throughout the world and that had a lot of money, the richest ones, to help settle the people of Zion in that territory. [This was one of] two historical events [that] paved the way for the genocide that happened later” (emphases added).
- Catalan NGO Novact invited Palestinian NGO activists Munther Amira and Manal Tamimi to a conference on “preventing violent extremism,” funded by the provincial deputation and the municipality of Barcelona, the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD), and the European Union (EU). Tamimi frequently utilizes antisemitic and violent rhetoric and imagery on social media, tweeting in September 2015: “Vampire zionist (sic) celebrating their Kebore day by drinking Palestinian bloods (sic), yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end.” Amira has described a violent demonstration as part of a “struggle against the Nazi occupation.”
- The Andalucía Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID) held a BDS event “against Israeli apartheid” together with the Andalusian NGO Al-Quds Association in 2014, featuring Raji Sourani of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and Sergio Yahni of the Alternative Information Center (AIC) – two organizations that have alleged ties to the PFLP.
Spanish public funding to politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict is widespread and highly decentralized, correlating to several levels of governance. Funds are managed and allocated by the central government, autonomous communities, provincial deputations, municipalities, and bar associations. Funding at all levels is repeatedly granted to NGOs carrying out political campaigns against Israel, reflecting deep political fissures and regional radicalization. Several grantees have ties to terrorist organizations, promote antisemitism, incite violence, and are involved in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns.
Politicized Spanish funding covered in this report amounted to over €5.1 million in 2015 alone.
To a greater extent than in other donor countries, NGO funding in Spain is a manifestation of regional political agendas, as shown in the participation of Andalusian development agency officials and politicians in anti-Israel NGO events (see section 5), or in the collaboration of a university, municipality, Spanish NGO, and Palestinian and Israeli activists on a program featuring a lecture titled “The infeasibility of the two-state solution” (see section 4.2).
The decentralized funding mechanisms allow for the politicization of development cooperation and the internationalization of secessionist and other regional agendas. Thus, while Spanish foreign aid has sharply declined, overall Spanish funding to political NGOs has grown and radicalized (for comparison, see NGO Monitor’s previous report on Spanish funding).
Although the largest Spanish foreign aid donor is a centralized body, Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the single largest Spanish donor to politicized NGO activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict is the Andalucía Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID), which granted €1,446,397 in 2015. In total, decentralized Spanish funding covered in this report (€2,935,550) amounts to over twice the sum of centralized funding (€1,326,720) in 2015.
Spanish development aid as a whole has significantly declined, with budget cuts amounting to 55% from 2011 to 2014 according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (p.11). Decentralized aid has been disproportionately affected, with its overall share dropping from 14% in 2011 to an estimated 7% of total official Spanish aid in 2016. Aid to the Palestinian Authority has likewise seen a particularly steep decline, dropping from €73.6 million in 2010 to €15.6 million in 2014 (latest available data).
Spain has also faced extreme political instability. The regional elections in 2015 saw the ruling center-right People’s Party (PP) lose power in all but four regions. In the following general elections in December 2015, the PP failed to achieve a majority and the second largest Socialist Party (PSOE) reached an all-time low after losing votes to the far-left. These unprecedented results led to a protracted political crisis and a failure to form a government for over 300 days (p.11). A repeat election was subsequently held in June 2016, resulting in a surprising decline in support for the populist left, represented by Unidos Podemos – a merger between far-left parties Podemos and Izquierda Unida. The union nevertheless came in third, and is in the ruling coalition of several regional governments across Spain.
Populist-left parties that have risen to power in Spain bear a considerable likeness to their populist-right counterparts in other European countries and in the United States – in that they reverberate anti-establishment, anti-elitist, nationalist-separatist sentiments; advocate Euroscepticism and economic protectionism; and resonate with provincial or regional concerns.
In the Basque Country, separatism has grown stronger, with the moderate nationalist party (PNV) and the pro-independence left party EH Bildu winning 60% of the vote in 2016. The far-left party Podemos gained surprising popularity in the region in the general elections, with PNV endorsing their inclusion in the governing coalition.
Basque regions are also fraught with political tensions that are the result of a long, conflict-ridden history, among them the issue of the hundreds of prisoners held across Spain, convicted for offenses related to the secessionist terrorist organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) – designated as such by the UK and the US. Many Basques, among them family members of ETA prisoners, advocate for the enhanced rights or outright release of those who they perceive to be political prisoners.
Far-left secessionists in Basque regions – including the autonomous community of Navarre – promote solidarity with other leftist-nationalist movements around the world as part of their political strategy. As put by EH Bildu politician and recently released ETA prisoner Arnaldo Otegi, “We have always recognised the importance of internationalism. We have discovered that struggles need to become more global in their nature.”
In line with this strategy, far-left pro-independence party EH Bildu called in 2015 for the “immediate release of Khalida Jarrar,” described as a “long-time Palestinian political prisoners’ advocate.” Jarrar, vice chairperson of Palestinian NGO Addameer, is a senior PFLP official indicted in April 2015 for various offenses, including active membership in a terrorist organization (PFLP) and incitement to violence through a call to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Jarrar accepted a plea bargain and was reportedly convicted on “one count of belonging to an illegal organization and another of incitement” receiving a 15 month prison sentence with an additional 10 month suspended sentence. She was released from prison on June 3, 2016. This political strategy is reflected in NGO funding (see section 4).
Andalusian regional politics have also been subject to radicalization due to harsh economic conditions. With over 8 million residents and comprising 18% of Spain’s entire population, Andalucía is Spain’s most populous autonomous community. Unemployment in Andalucía went from 26.2% in 2009 to 27.7% in 2010, reaching 31.7% in 2015. At the same time, the governing party in Andalucía, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), has been involved in a series of corruption scandals concerning misuse of public funds, including a missing €17 million in European Union (EU) grants designated for training programs for the unemployed.
Despite widespread corruption and economic hardships, the Andalucía Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID) is a primary donor to NGO-led activities in the Arab-Israeli conflict, designating €2,635,330 for such activities in 2014 and €1,279,652 in 2015. NGO Monitor research reveals a higher amount, €1,446,397 in 2015, making AACID the single largest Spanish donor to politicized NGO activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. In addition to funding, AACID has also co-organized and participated in a number of anti-Israel political events – such as a BDS event “against Israeli apartheid” together with the Andalusian NGO Al-Quds Association in 2014.
Finally, comprising 16% of Spain’s population and 19% of its GDP, Catalonia is one of Spain’s most important autonomous communities and a source of continuous political tension due to growing secessionist aspirations. Current president of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, leads a pro-independence coalition and pledges to hold a binding referendum on independence in 2017. Puigdemont’s corruption-fraught party is increasingly being challenged by Catalonia’s populist-left party En Comú Podem, which currently runs the municipality of Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital city. These tensions are reflected in NGO funding – while The Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD) is not a significant funder to politicized NGO activities in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the municipality of Barcelona accounts for at least €286,472 allocated for such activities in 2015.
As the following report demonstrates, in the context of severe funding constraints and political turmoil, funds are increasingly channeled to fringe political organizations – Palestinian, Israeli, and Spanish. The main facilitators of this politicization are prominent Spanish NGOs that utilize regional and national public funds in order to launch anti-Israel political campaigns and nurture long-term partnerships with politicized Palestinian and Israeli NGOs. This is consistent with a general trend of radicalization in the Spanish political arena, which compromises the effectiveness of Spanish development cooperation yet further.
1.2 Overview of Spanish Development Cooperation
The largest Spanish foreign aid donor is the Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), under the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. According to its charter, the agency was created “to foster full development, conceived as a fundamental human right, with the fight against poverty as part of the process for building this right.” In addition to directly funding various Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, AECID funds a number of projects carried out by Spanish NGOs together with local partners.
Apart from AECID, every autonomous community in Spain has its own development agency, such as the Andalucía Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID), the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation (AVCD), and the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD). Below the level of the autonomous communities, provincial deputations and municipalities have their own funding mechanisms for development aid – with municipalities such as Malaga and Barcelona allocating funds to various political organizations active in the conflict. Other less significant actors include bar associations and universities – largely supported by public funds.
The following report begins with a section on direct centralized funding allocated by AECID to local Palestinian NGOs, followed by a section on Spanish NGOs that are active throughout Spain. Consecutive sections then lay out funding and NGO activity per region, with a section on the Basque country, on Andalucía, and on Catalonia respectively.
2. Direct Centralized Funding
AECID provides the following funding to six organizations. All of these organizations promote BDS and utilize demonizing rhetoric. Four out of six of these 2015 AECID beneficiaries have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated a terrorist entity by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. Since its inception in 1967, the PFLP has been involved in suicide bombings, hijackings, assassinations, and other terrorist activities targeting civilians.
- €185,581 to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR):
- Describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid” and accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” and the “Judaization of Jerusalem,” while regularly distorting or denying the context of terrorism against Israeli civilians.
- Consistently labels terrorist attacks as a part of the “legitimate right to resist the occupation.” Distorts Gaza casualty figures, often labeling combatants as civilians to bolster its claims of war crimes.
- In an interview, PCHR director Raji Sourani admitted that he served “a three-year sentence [1979-1982] imposed by an Israeli court which convicted him of membership in the illegal Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine…” He was also denied a US entry visa in 2012.
- In February 2014, the PFLP organized a ceremony in Gaza honoring Sourani for winning the “Alternative Noble (sic) Prize.”
- €83,200 to the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC):
- According to the Institute for Palestine Studies and scholar Simona Sharoni, the UPWC is politically affiliated with the PFLP.
- According to the PFLP, the late Maha Nassar, who was president of the UPWC, was also a member of the Central Committee of the PFLP.
- As reported by the PFLP, in 2012 the UPWC “organized a visit to the home of the martyr Comrade Mahmoud Gharbawi, writer and former member of the Political Vureau (sic) of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, marking the 40th day after his death. This visit came as one of a series of events organized by the PFLP . . .”
- €184,989 to Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC):
- UAWC was founded in 1968 by members of the PFLP and is an official PFLP “affiliate.”
- In 2010, UAWC organized “a solidarity day with the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat…” The “solidarity day” featured Muhammad Bakri, executive director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Gaza, and celebrated “the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi” (an attack perpetrated by the PFLP).
- €76,380 to Bisan Centre for Research and Development:
- Lamees Farraj, Project Coordinator at Bisan, is a signatory on behalf of Bisan to the “Support Statement of Palestinian Feminists in Palestine and Diaspora,” published in February 2016, which accuses Israel of “colonial and racist oppression”; “deplore[s] the colonial attitude inherent in some Israeli feminists’ request of us to sign a statement in favor of liberal ideals . . . and against the effective solidarity with the struggle for rights”; and “emphasize[s] that popular resistance movements, including the boycott movement, are feminist issues as well.”
- According to Palestinian organizations Samidoun – Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and Addameer, Bisan’s Executive Director Eteraf Rimawi was arrested six times by Israeli forces between 1995 and 2014. As reported by Addameer, Rimawi was sentenced for 16-months in prison and fined NIS 5000 in 2000. During his detention in 2008, an Israeli military judge affirmed that “Eteraf was active in political activities related to the PFLP.”
- Addameer additionally reported that on September 23, 2014, Israeli military judge Doron-Dorani stated at a judicial review hearing: “Eteraf Rimawi is an activist in an illegal organization and is active within his area of residence along with others that are currently in detention. Eteraf was arrested a number of times and he is back to his previous actions.”
- €128,825 to Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC):
- Randa Siniora, General Director of WCLAC and former General Director of Al-Haq, has stated, “Although resistance against occupation and its arbitrary practices is legitimate under international law, and these acts are considered a part of the Palestinian people’s resistance and struggle against occupation in order to achieve their right to liberation and independence, the occupation forces call it ‘terrorism’ or ‘destructive acts.’”
- WCLAC’s 2014 Semi-Annual Report accuses Israel of “collective punishment,” “human rights violations,” “women’s rights violations,” and seeking “to “suppress resistance” by “targeting civil society in order to obtain land and continue to undermine the economic stability, the growth and the development of Palestinian society.”
- Manal Tamimi, a WCLAC fieldworker, frequently utilizes anti-Semitic and violent rhetoric on social media.
- €199,611 to Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ):
- ARIJ’s overview of “Palestine in Century” omits the context of an Arab rejection of partition and an Arab-initiated war against Israel, and falsely alleges an Israeli “transfer policy.”
- ARIJ is a signatory to a “Joint Call to Action: July 2014 – Month against the Apartheid Wall,” stating: “it is time for a ‘legal intifada’, an intensified popular struggle and more boycotts, divestment and sanctions. It is time for accountability…. to overcome Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation. We ask you to expand and deepen the global BDS movement for justice…”
3. Spanish NGOs
3.1 Paz con Dignidad
Paz con Dignidad (PcD) is a well-established Spanish NGO, with several offices around Spain. According to its website, PcD “is a Spanish nonprofit organization working in the field of solidarity, human rights and development cooperation, trying to influence social awareness to contribute to the creation of a fair and supportive international network working towards equitable development worldwide. PcD was founded in 1995, when it began working with the aim of generating critical awareness of current development models, which led to deep inequalities” (NGO Monitor translation). PcD regularly promotes BDS campaigns.
PcD sponsors a journal, Revista Pueblos, funded by AACID and AVCD (Andalusian and Basque development agencies respectively), and the Basque Provincial Deputations of Gipuzkoa and Bizcaya, among others. Amounts are not provided. In September 2016, Revista Pueblos published an article titled “Against Oblivion. Photographic Memory of Palestine Before the Nakba, 1889-1948,” covering a book of photographs compiled by “journalist Teresa Aranguren and the photographer Sandra Barrilaro,” depicting “Photographs showing people living their lives normally, without even imagining how much their life would be wounded and thrown into exile, occupation, diaspora” (NGO Monitor translation). Teresa Aranguren is also a member of the editorial board of Revista Pueblos. In a 2014 interview for Hispan TV, Aranguren stated: “The problem of the Middle East is not Hamas, but Israel.”
PcD coordinator and Cordoba Council member Amparo Pernichi spoke in March 2016 at the “Tree of resistance of the Palestinian People in Cordoba [Andalucía],” invoking classical antisemitic themes: “This has been perfectly organized all along, from the 19th Century, with Theodor Herzl being the first one to talk about Zionism… Another important decision, Balfour, in World War I, he asked the Israelis (sic) that lived throughout the world and that had a lot of money, the richest ones, to help settle the people of Zion in that territory. Those two historical events paved the way for the genocide that happened later… This place is emblematic because we used to gather together here in the recent genocidal episode against Gaza, and I say the recent, because they haven’t stopped killing since then” (NGO Monitor translation, emphases added).
As a Council Member, Pernichi tried to promote a boycott resolution against Israel on behalf of the municipality of Cordoba. As part of this initiative, Pernichi also called to “rethink” events organized by the city council that had nothing to do with Israel solely because of their Jewishness, such as the festival for Sephardic music.
- UHWC is a PFLP-affiliated health committee active in Gaza, as identified by USAID and in Palestinian documents.
- Dr. Ahmad Maslamani, co-founder of HWC, was a “Central Committee member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” (as stated by the PFLP itself).
- Daoud Ghoul, director of development projects and programs in Jerusalem, was convicted by an Israeli court of being a PFLP member (decision 19274-07-15).
- In 2015, Israeli authorities closed an HWC center in Shuafat for one year. The decision states that the center was raided and subsequently closed “[u]nder the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1948 and after the conviction that this place is used in terrorist activities.”
In 2015, PcD received €600,621 in five grants from AACID, AVCD, the provincial deputations of Bizkaia and Cordoaba, and the municipality of Fuenlabrada for projects with UHWC; as well as €7,026 from the municipality of Basauri (Basque city) for the project “Resistance in Palestine. Women and culture in the construction of collective identity.”
In its 2015 annual report, PcD referred to the 2015 decision of Israeli authorities to close an HWC center in Shuafat as part of a “campaign carried out by the government of Israel in order to expel civil human rights organizations in the city and implement their Judaization policies” (NGO Monitor translation).
3.2 Movimiento por la Paz, el Desarme y la Libertad (MPDL)
MPDL describes itself as “an independent, secular and progressive NGO that works, since 1983, for the full compliance with human rights, democratic governance, equality and the solidarity between people and peoples” (NGO Monitor translation).
In 2014, MPDL published a manifesto on the “genocide in Gaza,” alleging “war crimes and crimes against humanity” and condemning “the atrocious crimes against a defenseless population, as well as racist attacks carried out by the Israeli army, police and settlers against Palestinians from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel.” The manifesto calls to “Stop arms trade and military collaboration with Israel,” claiming that “Each weapon purchased by Spain from Israel is a proven weapon against the children of Gaza. Each weapon sold to Israel is a weapon that will be used against civilians in clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. Enough complicity.” The manifesto goes on to advocate “the ratification of the Rome Statute by the Palestinian Authority so that those responsible for war crimes against the Palestinian people can be brought to the International Criminal Court”; and to call for “the suspension of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel as a measure of pressure for this state to comply with international law” (NGO Monitor translation).
Citing unnamed “international DNGOs [development NGOs],” MPDL alleged “an increase in acts of revenge against the Palestinian population amid the inaction of Israeli security forces who have prevented access to medical care for some of the wounded,” claiming without evidence that “Palestinian Red Crescent vehicles and equipment have been the target of more than 50 attacks by Israeli settlers and some members of the Palestinian health services have been victims of the violence of the Israeli police forces” (NGO Monitor translation).
MPDL received (p. 19) €11,478 in 2015 from the municipality of Torrelodones for a project with Palestinian NGO Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), as well as €3,000 from the municipality of Utebo for a project with Palestinian NGO Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA):
- PMRS is a signatory to a 2015 initiative of the BDS National Committee for “the Nakba Day” to “join and build” BDS campaigns and to place an embargo on Israel. PMRS refers to the Israel Defense Force (IDF) as the “IOF” (Israel Occupation Force”), accusing it of “war crimes and violations,” and claims to “find(s) itself working within the constraints of Israel’s apartheid system.”
- CFTA is a signatory to the March 2016 “Palestinian Women’s Call for Worldwide Women’s Endorsement of BDS,” which accuses Israel of “Ethnic cleansing and dispossession of a majority of the indigenous Palestinian people during the 1948 Nakba and denial of the right of return of the Palestine refugees as stipulated in and protected by international law” and an “Entrenched system of legalized and institutionalized racial discrimination and segregation, especially against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, which meets the UN definition of the crime of apartheid.”
MPDL also received €61,326 in 2015 from AACID, the Parliament of Andalucía, and the municipality of Illescas for projects with HWC, as well as €131,961 from the EU. HWC is a Palestinian organization with ties to the PFLP (see section 3.1). Public funding to MPDL for activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict amounts to €207,765 in 2015.
4. The Basque Country
The political complexities and polarization of Basque regions are reflected in Basque development aid to organizations active in the Arab-Israeli conflict. According to an overview of the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation (AVCD), there are 18 initiatives funded in the Palestinian Authority, amounting to €4.6 million. A breakdown and timeframes are not provided.
In May 2016, the AVCD signed an agreement with Addameer to “help Palestinian prisoners,” granting the organization €199,988. Addameer is a leader of campaigns in support of Palestinian prisoners convicted of security offenses, referring to them as “political prisoners” and altogether omitting the context of violence and terror. The organization focuses on lobbying international frameworks “to ask them to intervene to hold Israel accountable and pressure it to change its policies and practices.” Addameer’s Chairperson and Co-founder Abdul-latif Ghaith was banned by Israel from travelling internationally due to his alleged membership in the PFLP. He was also banned from entering the West Bank in 2011-2015. Addameer’s vice chairperson is Khalida Jarrar, a senior official of the PFLP. She was indicted in April 2015 for various offenses, including active membership in a terrorist organization (PFLP) and inciting to violence through a call to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Jarrar accepted a plea bargain and was reportedly convicted on “one count of belonging to an illegal organization and another of incitement” receiving a 15 month prison sentence with an additional 10 month suspended sentence. She was released from prison on June 3, 2016.
The municipality of Vitoria, the capital city of the Basque Country, granted Addameer €64,999 in 2013 and €97,947 in 2014. According to Addameer, “Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian organization dealing specifically with Palestinian political prisoners, had the pleasure of hosting the renowned human rights lawyer Gonzalo Boye in December 2013. Mr. Boye was in Palestine to provide training to a number of Palestinian lawyers on the concept of universal jurisdiction and how it relates to Palestinian political prisoners… Sincere thanks must go to the Basque city council, Ayuntamiento de Vitoria — Gasteiz, and ‘Solidaridad Internacional’ who kindly provided the support for the training” (emphasis added). Boye is a lawyer who has tried to bring about the prosecution of Israeli and American officials for alleged war crimes and “torture of terrorist suspects,” and served eight years in prison for his involvement in ETA terrorist activities.
Further Basque funding to politicized activities in the Arab-Israeli conflict is also allocated through Spanish NGOs by the AVCD and various municipalities in the Basque Country and the region of Navarre, which has a significant Basque population.
Mundubat – “one world” in the Basque language – is a Basque “Development Cooperation NGO” founded in 1988. A June 2016 video prepared by Mundubat in support of the “International Campaign for the Right to Boycott” narrates: “If you were Palestinian, you would have been kicked out of your house in 1948… you would have died while playing football on a Gaza beach. If you were Palestinian, if you had complained about the conditions in which you live, you would be a terrorist, you would be imprisoned, exiled, or dead” (NGO Monitor translation).
Another video in support of BDS campaigns from April 2016 features an assortment of speakers from an event held by Mundubat, among them Ayed Abu Eqtaish of Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) and Sergio Yahni of Alternative Information Center (AIC):
- AIC is a radical Jerusalem-based political NGO that has called for “resistance,” and supports an embargo and sanctions on Israel. Co-founder of AIC Michel Warschawsky has compared Israeli officials to Nazis and was jailed in the 1990s for publishing an informational pamphlet for the PFLP.
- Several DCI-P board members have apparent ties to the PFLP. Mahmoud Jiddah, reportedly a “PFLP member,” was imprisoned by Israel for 17 years for carrying out “grenade attacks” against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem in 1968. Hassan Abed Aljawad is similarly described as a Bethlehem-based “PFLP activist,” or “leader,” representing the PFLP at public events. Fatima Daana, an attorney and board secretary, is apparently the widow of Raed Nazzal, the former commander of the PFLP’s armed wing (the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades) in Qalqilya. Nazzal was responsible for several terrorist attacks and was killed in 2002 in a shootout with IDF forces.
In the video, Yahni is filmed saying: “The processes of physical destruction, like the processes of psychological destruction of the children, are part of a policy of what has been called ‘thanatopolitics’ [death politics], which is to keep the different layers of Palestinian society a centimeter from death, not to kill them. There is death, I’m not denying that, but the aim is not death as such, but the feeling of living on top of death.”
57.2% of Mundubat’s 2015 budget (€2,364,673) comes from autonomous communities. 11.9% (€492,700) comes from AECID (p. 37). 15% of Mundubat’s budget (€622,369) is designated for human rights activities in “Palestine.” This consists of over 45% of Mundubat’s overall expenses on human rights activities (other categories are “Gender” and “Food Sovereignty”). In November 2015, AVCD granted €800,764 to Mundubat for “Strengthening Community Resilience and Palestinian Social Cohesion in East Jerusalem” (NGO Monitor translation).
Mundubat is part of the Kanan project, a project dedicated to strengthening “the social and political participation channels of the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem through enhancing the capacity of the youth…” and implemented by six political NGOs, among them DCI-P, HWC, AIC, Bisan (see section 2), and ACSUR. According to its 2015 annual report, the Kanan project was funded by the Basque autonomous community (p. 19-20). Amounts are not provided.
SODePAZ is a Basque NGO based in Navarre whose self-proclaimed mission is to “contribute to the political mobilization, the popular empowerment and the construction of other possible worlds.” SODePAZ’s 2015 project titled “Bringing the Culture of Palestinian Resistance to Donostia [a Basque city also known as San Sebastián]” included the “Basque translation of a guide on cultural Boycott Divestment and Sanctions on the State of Israel (BDS).” Amounts are not specified. SODePAZ hosted a talk by Sergio Yahni of AIC (see section 4.1) in October 2015, titled “Palestine: between the Intifada and ethnic cleansing.”
SODePAZ was granted €84,173 in 2015 and €84,745 in 2016 from the autonomous community of Navarre for a joint project with Addameer “Protection of the rights of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons.” The same project was granted €24,500 in 2014 and €30,100 in 2015 from the municipality of Pamplona.
SODePAZ collaborates closely with Addameer. According to Addameer’s 2014 annual report, “Addameer was invited once again to Basque country by partners Sodepaz to participate in the summer program of Pamplona University. The program included meetings with the lawyers syndicate, solidarity groups and the Mayor of San Sebastián”. This summer program was organized jointly by SODePAZ and the University of Navarre, and funded by the City of Pamplona and the regional government of Navarre. The program featured Addameer’s director Sahar Francis and PCHR’s director Raji Sourani as speakers (see section 2). AIC’s director Michel Warchawski gave a lecture titled “The infeasibility of the two-state solution.”
The municipality of Rivas Vaciamadrid held a December 2014 gala event together with SODePAZ, Unadikum (see section 5.2) and Amnesty International (see section 5.2) in order to raise donations for UHWC, a PFLP-affiliated health committee active in Gaza (see section 3.1).
The Andalucía Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID) is a primary donor of NGO-led activities in the Arab-Israeli conflict, designating €2,635,330 for such activities in 2014 and €1,279,652 in 2015, according to AACID annual reports. However, other AACID documents and NGO reports uncovered by NGO Monitor researchers reveal a higher amount, €1,446,397 in 2015, making AACID the single largest Spanish donor to politicized NGO activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. AACID, as well as a number of Andalusian municipalities and provincial deputations, support and collaborate with several political NGOs from the region.
5.1 Al Quds Association
The “Al Quds Association for Solidarity with the People in Arab Countries” is an openly anti-Israel political NGO based in Malaga. The Al Quds Association promotes BDS and other political campaigns against Israel and collaborates with Palestinian NGOs that have ties to the PFLP terrorist organization.
In 2015, the Al Quds Association was granted a total of €80,000 by AACID, all of which was designated for its “2015 PCHR project” (NGO Monitor translation). PCHR (see section 2) is a Gaza-based NGO that regularly describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid” and accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” and the “Judaization of Jerusalem,” while regularly distorting or denying the context of terrorism against Israeli civilians. Raji Sourani, founder and director of PCHR, has admitted to having been convicted of membership in the PFLP. The Al Quds Association regularly supports PCHR, whose activities feature heavily on the Association’s website.
According to its 2015 annual report, the Al Quds Association received an additional €40,000 from AACID to support an “Andalusian Network of Solidarity with Palestine” (NGO Monitor translation), as well as €26,890 designated for Palestinian issues from the municipality of Malaga.
Beyond granting financial support, AACID also held a BDS event “against Israeli apartheid” together with the Al-Quds Association in 2014, featuring Raji Sourani of PCHR, Sergio Yahni of AIC (see section 4.1), and Spanish politician Teresa Rodriguez. Teresa Rodriguez is a far-left anti-Israel politician who has called on the EU to suspend its Association Agreement with Israel, and has accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” in the 2014 Gaza war and compared Gaza to “the Warsaw Ghetto.”
The participation of a governmental development cooperation agency in a radical and discriminatory political activity grossly diverges from AACID’s declared mandate to contribute “to the eradication of poverty and to the consolidation of processes aimed at ensuring sustainable human development,” and attests to severe politicization of Spanish development aid.
The Al Quds Association also funds HWC, granting it €12,818 in 2015 originally provided by the municipality of Malaga. HWC has ties to the PFLP (see section 3).
On May 12, 2016, the Al Quds Association held an event together with Amnesty International, featuring Ahmad Jaradat and Sergio Yahni of AIC, and funded by the municipality of Malaga. The event was organized to mark the 68th anniversary of the “Nakba” – describing the establishment of the State of Israel as a “catastrophe.” As reported on the Association’s website, Sergio Yahni spoke at the event of the “origins of the Zionist regime of the State of Israel,” claiming that a Zionist militia of Jews, “heavily armed, trained and made up of people from Europe,” clashed with a Palestinian militia in 1948 that was its inferior “in number, armament and preparation” because Zionists had “killed or imprisoned all of their leaders.” According to Yahni “The colonization process began in 1948, but the Zionist policy of annexation of territories and ethnic cleansing continues ever since… They want to achieve a Great Israel, the dream of the Zionists, and the Palestinians are a stumbling block to be wiped off the map” (NGO Monitor translation, emphasis added).
5.2 The European Association for Cooperation with Palestine (ASECOP)
According to its website, “The European Association for Cooperation with Palestine (ASECOP) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization with no political affiliation. Established in 2003, ASECOP has been building channels of solidarity with the Palestinian people in helping them build a better future.”
ASECOP is highly active in political campaigns against Israel, and is a signatory to a 2010 statement marking the fifth anniversary of the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS, calling for the “expansion, diffusion and implementation of this campaign throughout the Spanish State” (NGO Monitor translation). The statement continues to call for an institutional, commercial, cultural, and academic boycott against Israel.
In December 2015, in the midst of a terror wave against Israeli civilians, ASECOP president Dr. Jehad Suleiman Rashid claimed that “of the 135 murders in the last two months, there are 35 children… 35 children!… There are ‘zero distance’ shots, there is no trial” (NGO Monitor translation, emphasis added) – providing no basis for his claims and entirely omitting the context of stabbings and other forms of attacks against civilians carried out by Palestinians, including those carried out by minors.
ASECOP grants an annual “Yasser Arafat Prize” – an initiative sponsored by the Provincial Deputation of Malaga to “reward the best works of literature, journalism and essays that deal with the Palestinian problem” (NGO Monitor translation). The third Yasser Arafat Prize was awarded in 2014 to Argentinian journalist Gustavo Rojana for his book Refugees – Palestine Today. The award was presented in Malaga in an event jointly held by ASECOP, AACID, and the City of Malaga. Speakers included ASECOP president Dr. Jehad Suleiman Rashid, AACID director Pablo Centella, and mayor of Malaga Francisco De la Torre Prados. Gustavo Rojana, the recipient of the award, has libelously accused Israeli company Mekorot of “stealing water from Palestinians,” echoing classic antisemitic libels in claiming that “with state-of-the-art technology, they prevent old wells within Arab territory from supplying enough water for the Palestinians.” In a joint presentation with Pedro Brieger in 2014, Rojana referred to the Israel Defense Forces as the “Israeli occupation army,” accusing Israel of pursuing a “politics of apartheid” (NGO Monitor translation).
The participation in such an event of the director of AACID and mayor of Malaga again attests to the level of involvement of radical political NGOs in Spanish regional governments, translating into blatant politicization of Spanish development aid.
The Peace, Equality and International Solidarity Association – Unadikum, or “Unadikum international Brigades,” is a Malaga-based “association that advocates for the rights of the Palestinian people and against the occupation and Israeli apartheid” (NGO Monitor translation). Among its objectives are “political pressure demanding the right of return”; “Assistance to the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, support to their families and campaigns for teir [sic] release”; and “Support for those displaced by the Zionist colonies and combating illegal settlements.” The organization is currently only active in Gaza, from which all Israeli settlements have been removed in 2005.
Unadikum adheres to an extreme ideology and promotes historical revisionism and libelous distortions. An entry on Unadikum’s website explaining the organization’s name – which refers to a poem by the late Arab-Israeli politician Tawfiq Ziad – states that Ziad “died in an accident (suspected product of the Mosad)” (NGO Monitor translation). Ziad, who was a Knesset Member and mayor of Nazareth, had supported Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s government, and was killed in a car accident in 1994.
A section of Unadikum’s website dedicated to the “History of Palestine” claims that a “major fact about the Zionist entity, Israel, is that it is the main instrument of imperialism in the Middle East: a strategic region of oil reserves that is the gateway to Europe, Asia and Africa…In May 1948, when the Palestinians and the Arab countries rejected the partition of Palestine, Israel began a war against the Palestinians. Israeli forces massacred the defenseless population of certain Palestinian cities…” The page describes the two-state solution as a demand that “Palestinians recognize the State of Israel (and forget the struggle) in exchange for a “mini state” in the West Bank and Gaza.”
President of Unadikum Manuel Pineda said in a 2014 interview for HispanTV: “I believe that a land incursion like Cast Lead will not take place. The Israeli Occupation Forces are cowards, they know that the resistance is ready to fend off such an incursion… The Tel Aviv Regime has conducted more than 800 kidnappings since all this started, trying to dismantle not just Hamas, but every group of resistance, destroying houses, killing people, killing demonstrators… That makes the forces of the resistance stronger, and the forces willing to deal with the Zionist entity weaker” (NGO Monitor translation, emphasis added).
Despite its extremism and deliberate distortion of facts, Unadikum is credited and supported by a number of municipalities and deputations across Spain. In 2014 Pineda stated that Unadikum does “not receive subsidies” in order to maintain its independence. However, the Provincial Deputation of Valencia signed a collaboration agreement with Unadikum in 2016, granting it €26,770. A reception was held to mark the agreement with the participation of Pineda and of Manuel Azaña, president of the Deputation of Valencia.
The municipality of Rivas Vaciamadrid held a December 2014 gala event together with Unadikum, SODePAZ (see section 4.2), and Amnesty International (see section 5.1) in order to raise donations for the Union of Health Workers Committee (UHWC). UHWC is a PFLP-affiliated health committee active in Gaza, as identified by USAID and in Palestinian documents.
In August 2016, the municipality of Petrer described its resolution to “join(s) the BDS campaign” as a response “to the requests of the Peace, Equality and International Solidarity Association ‘Unadikum.’” The resolution calls for an arms embargo on Israel and for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
The Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD) lists “Palestine” as a priority country. However, according to lists of grants published by ACCD, a mere six projects targeting the West Bank and Gaza were funded in 2015 and 2016, amounting to €438,985. Among these is a 2016 €84,000 project co-implemented by Catalan NGO SODEPAU. An entry on SODEPAU on the Anna Lindh Foundation’s website lists AIC and HWC – NGOs that promote BDS and have alleged ties to the PFLP terrorist organization (see sections 3.1 and 4.1) – as “main partners” of SODEPAU. According to the entry, 87.79% of SODEPAU’s 2009 budget came from public funding. SODEPAU is an advocate of anti-Israel BDS, and a signatory to two BDS petitions in 2016 alone.
Other ACCD-funded projects in the West Bank and Gaza promote virulent political campaigns against Israel, as reviewed below. ACCD features on its “Palestine” page an interview with PCHR director Raji Sourani, who admitted to having been convicted of membership in the PFLP (see section 2).
The municipality of Barcelona is also a prominent funder of development cooperation in Catalonia, granting €39,523 to ASECOP (see section 5.2) and €69,447 to Catalan NGO nova (see section 6.1) in 2015 for projects related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Yet another decentralized funder in Catalonia is the Barcelona Bar Association (ICAB), which sets aside 0.7% of its budget for development cooperation. ICAB is a public bar association whose functions are delegated by public bodies. In 2014, ICAB granted €62,900 to nova for “Defending the Defenders: strengthening the capacities and resources of Palestinian civil society in its role as Human Rights Defenders and promoters of the rule of law” (NGO Monitor translation). Funding details for 2015 are unavailable.
ICAB held an event on “The responsibility of the Israeli government” in August 2015. Speakers included Gonzalo Boye, a lawyer who has tried to bring about the prosecution of Israeli and American officials for alleged war crimes and “torture of terrorist suspects,” and served eight years in prison for his involvement in ETA terrorist activities. The event was organized in collaboration with the NGO coalition “Enough Complicity with Israel,” whose manifesto states: “The illegal policies of occupation, colonization and apartheid carried out by Israel since the Palestinian Nakba (1948) have been made possible largely thanks to relations (commercial, military, political, academic, and cultural) that the international community has fostered with the Zionist state” (NGO Monitor translation).
6.1. Nova – Centre per la Innovació Social (Center for Social Innovation)
According to its website, nova is an association founded in 1999 by a group of activists who had been engaged in social innovation and nonviolent conflict transformation since the time of the Francoist dictatorship. One of nova’s foremost projects is Novact – the International Institute for Nonviolent Action. Based in Barcelona, Novact ostensibly “supports nonviolent movements, working for change and social transformation, and develops nonviolent interventions to protect vulnerable communities in conflict situations” in the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Novact promotes a number of political campaigns advocating sanctions against Israel and making severe allegations – such as the campaign “Hidden Business,” launched to “denounce the security, military and arms relations between the Spanish state and the state of Israel in order to claim the application of Spanish and European legislation on arms exports,” and the campaign “No More Complicity with Israel,” aiming to “show the role Israel plays in the design, research, implementation and sale abroad of different systems of repression.” Novact funders include the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), AACID, ACCD, the municipality of Barcelona, ICAB, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).
According to its 2015 annual report, ACCD funded two Novact projects targeting the Arab-Israeli conflict in 2015 – “Human Rights Defenders in Action: developing skills and tools for civil society in the West Bank to guarantee the right to peace of the Palestinian people” (€70,000 for 2015-2016) and “Peacebuilding from Catalonia to Palestine” (€6,360 for 2014-2016). ACCD lists only the former, naming the “International Civil Service of Catalonia,” rather than Novact, as beneficiary organization. “Human Rights Defenders in Action” was also granted €76,831 for 2014-2016 and €177,502 for 2015-2017 by the municipality of Barcelona (no explanation is given for the overlap).
A 2016 report published by Novact as part of the “Human Rights Defenders in Action” project denies the right for Jewish self-determination, claiming that “the desire to label Israel as a Jewish state goes beyond the denial of freedom of religion… This legal discrimination jeopardises the basic principles of democracy and Rule of Law and can amount to a situation of apartheid, under international law” (emphasis added). The report goes on to allege the Israeli “use and abuse of violence against peaceful demonstrators, the recent restrictions and excessive control and meddling in the work of human rights organisations,” and to assert that “The myth of the so-called ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ is falling apart and is losing many supporters abroad due to the continuous violations of human rights and abuses of the Palestinian people and for the total lack of respect for Rule of Law and real democracy” (emphasis added). The report concludes with a call “to monitor governmental complicities and collaborations in arm-trade.”
The ACCD-funded project “Peacebuilding from Catalonia to Palestine” (see above) campaigns for the denouncement on behalf of political institutions and associations of “existing Catalan forms and practices concerning the illegal occupation of the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories]” – effectively calling for sanctions against Israel.
Novact also received €176,313 from the Oxford Research Group (ORG) for the project “Observatory of Private Military and Security Companies (PMSC) & Human Rights” – covering the West Bank and Gaza, Columbia, and Iraq. ORG is a British NGO funded, among others, by Norway, Germany, Switzerland, and the EU. As part of this project, Novact published a 2015 report titled “The Privatization of Security in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The report states that “Since the Declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, the Israeli government has used the pretext of security to justify the occupation of the Palestinian people, committing terrible atrocities and violating human rights,” and that “The Israeli notion of security is closely linked to their concept of terrorism, drawing an extremely thin line between terrorism and resistance. The right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli military occupation is not only a moral right but also a recognized right under customary international law” (emphases added).
In February 2017, NOVACT hosted Manal Tamimi and Munther Amira of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) for a conference titled “Towards a new paradigm: Preventing Violent Extremism.” NOVACT later described the two as “Human Rights Defenders.”
Despite being invited as experts on “preventing violent extremism,” both Munther Amira and Manal Tamimi have made violent statements. In response to a violent demonstration in Bethlehem in December 2016, Munther Amira told Israeli media outlet Ynet: “we are here to protest and to say that the occupation and terror are two sides of the same coin. We want to tell the world that Palestinians deal with organized terror. We will continue to cope in order to struggle against the Nazi occupation” (NGO Monitor translation from the original Hebrew).
Tamimi frequently utilizes antisemitic and violent rhetoric and imagery on social media. In August 2015, Tamimi tweeted, “I do hate Israel ,i (sic) wish a thrid Intefada (sic) coming soon and people rais (sic) up and kills all these zionist settlers everywhere.” In September 2015, on Yom Kippur (a fast day and the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar), Tamimi tweeted: “Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore day by drinking Palestinian bloods, yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end.”
The conference organized by Novact and featuring PSCC was funded by the Spanish regional government of Catalonia and the EU. Other funding for political involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict listed in Novact’s 2015 annual report includes €289,000 from AECID (national development agency) for “Improving the protection of protected persons in Gaza and the West Bank by strengthening mechanisms for the implementation of IHL [International Humanitarian Law]” (2015-2016); €80,565 from the UN for “Promoting rule of law and accountability for conflict transformation” (2015-2016); and €179,134 from the Spanish MFA for “Supporting democratic transitions in the MENA region: strengthening the capacities of emerging social movements for the promotion of democracy and human rights.” In total, government funded Novact projects included in this report amount to €1.3 million.
All of the above-mentioned projects involve local partners and beneficiaries, but these are not specified. However, local partners listed at the end of the annual report include the PSCC (see above), PCHR (see section 2), and Who Profits. Who Profits was founded “in response to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement” against Israel and initiates international BDS campaigns, targeting Israeli and foreign banks, security companies, civil infrastructure facilities, and private companies.
The patterns of Spanish funding discussed in this report point to a distinct ideological trend against Israel, manifest in calls for its isolation, endorsement of violence against civilians, and the promotion of libelous distortions against Israeli entities and individuals. Accordingly, all the aforementioned Spanish NGOs support BDS campaigns that target Israel economically, culturally, and academically, and all but one collaborate with Palestinian NGOs associated with the PFLP terrorist organization.
This trend is manifest in a 2017 statement signed by most of these NGOs – Paz con Dignidad, Unadikum, Al Quds Association, Novact, SODEPAU, and SoDePaz. The statement calls for “binding measures” against Israel and marks “70 years since the partition plan of Palestine, adopted by the UN in 1947, which resulted in the 1948 Nakba, the demolition of more than 530 Palestinian villages and the expulsion of 750 000 Palestinians from their homeland, thus a process of ethnic cleansing” and “over 100 years of denial of the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Beyond waging political warfare against Israel, these NGOs often promote libelous claims that echo antisemitic themes or endorse violence against civilians. For instance, an NGO activist who claimed that Lord Balfour asked rich “Israelis” to settle in Palestine, paving the way for genocide, also called to “rethink” municipal support for a Sephardic music festival in her capacity as a city council member. Other Spanish-funded NGOs legitimize Palestinian violent “resistance,” and consistently deny or omit the context of indiscriminate terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. For example, the heavily-funded NGO Novact claims that “Since the Declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, the Israeli government has used the pretext of security to justify the occupation of the Palestinian people, committing terrible atrocities and violating human rights,” asserting that “The right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli military occupation is not only a moral right but also a recognized right under customary international law.”
Unfortunately, such hostile narratives are supported by government funding, and also amplified and legitimized via active participation of Spanish government officials and politicians in virulent events, under the banner of “human rights” and “development.” In this manner, Spanish commitment to development cooperation is exploited for the sake of regional political agendas, in clear defiance of official Spanish foreign policy objectives and universal principles of foreign aid.