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As reported by the JTA, on January 17, 2007, a Texas Federal Court judge dismissed as “wholly frivolous” and “baseless” Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund (PCWF) Riad ElSolh Hamad’s defamation suit against NGO Monitor and others.
NGO Monitor Executive Director Professor Gerald Steinberg noted: “This was a clear attempt to use the courts and intimidation to prevent independent analysis and exposure of the incitement by anti-Israel NGOs. This strategy has now been rejected.”
Impact Report of NGO Monitor’s October 2005 analysis
Summary: The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is the foreign aid and international development arm of the Swiss federal government. Its operations in the Middle East “aim to promote democratization” and to "contribute to the development of a pluralist and democratic Palestinian society.” NGO Monitor’s detailed 2005 analysis of SDC’s funding practices examined its support of NGOs such as al Mezan, the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) and Dev.tv. Based on this report, a group of Swiss citizens submitted a motion to the Swiss Federal Parliament claiming that Swiss-financed NGOs are involved in political activities and calling for a halt. This report details the progress of this motion and the publicity surrounding it.
NGO Monitor report on SDC
Following a report published by NGO Monitor on October 20, 2005 analyzing SDC’s financing of NGOs with strong political agendas, an exchange of correspondence between NGO Monitor and the SDC ensued. The Swiss response stated that “SDC and the Swiss Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly reject the unobjective and anchorless critique” which implied that “Swiss aid money is utilised to support institutions and NGO’s who are hostile towards Israel. ” In response, NGO Monitor noted that SDC’s criticism "lack[ed] content or reference to the specifics of NGO Monitor’s report," and "makes the standard claims of support for Middle East peace, while failing to refute documentation showing that, in fact, SDC’s funding for politicized Palestinian NGOs violates Swiss neutrality" and does not enhance the prospects for peace.
Swiss Federal Assembly motion
A number of Swiss citizens used NGO Monitor’s research as the basis to pressure the Swiss Federal Assembly to examine its funding of NGOs in the Middle East. 30 MPs submitted an initiative to a commission of the Federal Assembly, claiming that the SDC supports overly politicized NGOs. In a vote on January 9, 2007 the commission rejected the initiative by 14-8, stating that they would not cease funding these Palestinian organizations . Despite this rejection, the commission members expressed surprise that "funding for Palestine in 2005 … exceeded SDC funding for each of its 17 priority countries,” and pledged to conduct further research. Swiss supporters of the initiative have declared their intent to pursue formal accountability through other channels.
The Swiss media’s response
An article in the Geneva newspaper, Le Temps, on January 17, 2007 discussed the parliamentary initiative. The author, Valérie de Graffenried, dismissed NGO Monitor as a "truly not impartial" source regarding NGO Funding. NGO Monitor responded to this accusation in an article published in Le Temps on January 23, 2007. Professor Gerald Steinberg reiterated the rigorously source-based approach that NGO Monitor takes in its analysis of NGOs, noting that SDC fund recipients include NGOs that
"distort international law, falsely label Israel an “apartheid state” or accuse it of “war crimes”. Al Mezan repeatedly claims Israel is “killing and abducting the Palestinian population” while Dev.tv films attack Israel for attempting to “Judaize and Zionize” the country. Both SDC-funded NGOs erase the context of Palestinian terror and corruption." [For the English translation of this article click here].
This debate, triggered by NGO Monitor’s report on Swiss government funding for politicized NGOs, is expected to continue in the government and press.