• The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) – funded by the Swedish government – granted the Swedish NGO Palestinian Solidarity Movement (PSM) of Sweden SEK 5,283,000 ($744,021) between 2008 and 2010.
  • Of these funds, SEK 2,038,000 ($287,018) was allocated to PSM’s lobbying projects, which, among other goals, attempt to “influenc[e] Swedish foreign policy.”
  • PSM is also an active promoter of the BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) campaign which plays a central role in political warfare against Israel and is in contradiction to Swedish foreign policy.
  • In 2010, the Swedish government allocated SEK 31.4 billion (approx. $4.7 billion) for development aid. The amount set for 2012 is SEK 35.8 billion.

Background: Lobbying the government

Swedish government funding for development aid is managed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which outsources much of its funding to 14 “framework organizations.” One of these organizations, Forum Syd (The Forum for the South), provided the Swedish taxpayer money to th Palestinian Solidarity Movement of Sweden (PSM).  PSM’s grant application for funding from SIDA for 2010 lists SIDA itself as one of the target groups for PSM’s lobbying and “information” activities.1

PSM’s annual report (2008-2009) stresses that politicians and government ministers are at the center of the NGO’s lobbying activities:2 “PSM provides regular and timely information to politicians and officials on the Palestine-issue and the peace process. We [PSM] also have direct contacts with politicians on specific issues which relates to the conflict… We focus particularly on representatives of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee with requests to write motions, interpellations and questions to the government.”3(All translations from Swedish by NGO Monitor)

Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson has met with the NGO on several occasions.

During 2008-2010, SIDA granted a total of SEK 5,283,000 ($728,538) in support to PSM. Specific government funds were earmarked to support PSM’s “information activities” taking place in Sweden itself. As stated clearly in PSM’s application for funding from Forum Syd, the aim of these funds are to “influence Swedish policy towards a fair settlement of the Palestine conflict” and “influence Swedish foreign policy to promote a free and independent Palestinian state.”4  In an August 29, 2011 article, PSM spokesperson Per Gahrton called on the Swedish government to support the Palestinian unilateral UN-bid in September.

Other goals for PSM government-funded lobbying activities include initiatives aimed at spurring the Swedish general public to “increase their knowledge, take a stand and engage themselves in the Israel/Palestine-conflict trough seeking membership in PSM, writing letters to the editor and refraining from consuming products from Israel” (emphasis added). In addition to these activities, PSM publishes a Swedish magazine, Palestine Now, which seeks to distribute information and influence Swedish policy-makers to support the Palestinian strategy and narrative.

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS)

The PSM Congress, held in Stockholm on May 22-23 2010, stipulated that the major goal of the NGO is to “work to halt Israel’s apartheid-like discrimination of the Palestinian” (emphasis added). As part of this agenda, PSM’s strategic plan for 2010-2012 includes a campaign to launch a broad BDS-network in Sweden as one of its major goals.5

The false comparison to apartheid South Africa and the related tactic of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) are manifestations of the 1975 UN “Zionism is racism” resolution, and misleadingly portrays the Arab-Israeli conflict as a dispute motivated by alleged race-hatred, rather than one based on competing national and territorial claims. This defamatory charge and the campaigns that single out Israel are immoral and anti-peace.

In March 2010, PSM joined protests from 24 BDS organizations from Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Ireland, and the Palestinian Authority, calling for a boycott of the Swedish global fashion-chain H&M because of the company’s decision to extend its franchise to Israel. PSM called upon the prominent Swedish company to postpone the store opening in Tel Aviv.

PSM also called for a boycott of Israeli products in a report from 2011, targeting Swedish-owned retail chain Coop. And Swedish pop-group Roxette was attacked for announcing a concert in Israel in 2011.

The organization has actively campaigned to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, as well as to exclude Israeli cultural, academic, and sports representatives from Swedish and international conferences and events, unless they publicly condemn Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza. As part of these efforts, PSM distributed letters to leading Swedish universities, urging Swedish scholars not to cooperate with Israeli academic institutions and academics unless they condemn the Israeli government’s policies.6

In addition to these activities, PSM has also lobbied the Swedish government to terminate all aspects of mutually-beneficial Swedish-Israeli military and defence activities. In August 2006, PSM published “The Unknown Weapon Confraternity: Swedish Military Collaboration with Israel,” calling for a cessation of all defence-related cooperation between Israel and Sweden.

As an extension of this activity, a PSM representative participated in the attempted 2011 flotilla to Gaza attempt. PSM also participated in and sponsored events in Sweden, supporting the flotilla. This contradicted the EU’s position, which condemned this as an unnecessary provocation.