NGO Monitor’s report “Due Diligence and Accountability? The Negative Impact of U.S. Government Funding for Mideast Political NGOs” (May 2013) has had significant and positive impacts. It was discussed in meetings with members of Congress, their staffers, and funding agency officials. Six weeks after publication, it continues to resonate, including in the media.

This update covers developments since May, including:

1) Additional and corrected funding information from USAID and National Endowment for Democracy (NED);

2) Issues related to USAID funding for Sikkuy and its involvement in anti-Israel campaigns;

3) Analysis of exchanges with NED on red lines, political advocacy, and donor responsibility for NGO activities; and

4) The importance of pre-notification and the limits of self-reporting by grantees.

Funding Update: USAID

In June 2013, USAID posted a fact sheet on the Conflict Management and Mitigation Programs managed by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the USAID West Bank and Gaza Mission, updating its fact sheet of October 2012. No new grants were listed in June 2013.

However, funding to Keshev, Windows, Geneva Initiative, and Kids Creating Peace expired and is no longer listed, without any additional information provided. USAID has not indicated whether the grants to political advocacy NGOs such as Keshev and Windows were re-evaluated following NGO Monitor’s report on the activities of these NGOs.

Sikkuy, an Israeli NGO claiming to “advance equality between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel” and to address “barriers” to equality and development, is still listed as receiving a $1,061,275 grant through 2014. As detailed below and in our original report, a number of opinion articles by Sikkuy officials, notably Co-Executive Director Ali Haider, contain allegations of racial discrimination as part of demonization campaigns.

Despite reports that Haider has left Sikkuy, a phone call to the Jerusalem office on June 25 confirmed that he remains in his position. Haider also represented Sikkuy at an Israel Democracy Institute Conference on June 30, 2013.

Sikkuy has contributed to efforts to portray Israeli Arabs as an “indigenous minority” subject to “discrimination” by Israel. These themes are part of a wider political campaign seeking to delegitimize the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.


  • In the introduction to Sikkuy’s 2009 “Equality Index,” co-executive directors Ali Haider and Ron Gerlitz make the false claim that Israeli Arabs are protected by “international law concerning the rights of indigenous peoples according to which an indigenous national group must be granted individual and group rights and has a right to live in its homeland together with all the citizens under a genuine egalitarian democratic regime.” (Beyond the labeling of Israeli Arabs as “indigenous,” the legal claim is unsupported.)
  • The introduction to the 2009 document also makes shrill, unfounded allegations about “fears for the democratic regime” in Israel, and suggests that “morality,” “values,” and “democracy” are not part of Israeli “politics and the political discourse.” This rhetoric is a central component of contemporary delegitimization campaigns and attempts to manipulate the Israeli democratic process.  An op-ed by Ali Haider in Ha’aretz was headlined “The cry of a persecuted minority” (October 4, 2009) and makes the blanket allegation of Israeli racism as part of the wider campaign of demonization.
  • Ali Haider, “The Spread of Violence…Reasons and Implications,” Dugrinet, December 12, 2012) accuses Israel of “racism” and identifies the Israeli government as one of the main reasons for violence within Israeli Arab society.
  • Ali Haider, “Racism and Hate in the Center of the Consensus,” Walla News, January 30, 2013) claims that “[t]he phenomena of racism, hatred, exclusion, and contempt have become household terms in Israeli society.”

Ongoing dialogue with National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

In May, NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg met with the heads of National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington D.C., and NED published a statement on its website. These exchanges included discussions of the grant and decision making processes, and contributed to the broader conversation about NGO accountability, evaluation, and funder responsibility. NED’s guidelines and engagement on issues related to due diligence contrast sharply with the lack of accountability and the secrecy often characteristic of European government NGO funding.


Based on the meeting and NED’s statement, we note the following clarifications with respect to our previous report:

  • NGO Monitor noted NED funding for the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) in 2011. This was based on information provided by NED in correspondence dated February 21, 2012. In response, NED stated that “PNGO withdrew its proposal and no grant was ever issued.”
  • NGO Monitor also notes that NED practices full transparency regarding approved grants and NED’s website indeed contains (a) information on an NED grant for the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) and (b) annual independent financial audits.

Following the meeting, NGO Monitor initiated further correspondence, and NED provided information on its West Bank and Gaza grants as of June 1, 2013. MIFTAH and Holy Land Trust are not listed as NED grantees in 2013.

Of the political advocacy NGOs that promote BDS and had been funded by NED, only Al-Dameer  received additional funds in 2013 – $32,000 “To promote a human rights culture in the Gaza Strip.

(Al-Dameer had also received $31,000 in 2012 – information that was not included in our earlier report. This NGO has engaged in anti-Israel demonization, referring to terrorists as “martyrs” and speaking of the Palestinian “right to resist.” As seen below, it also accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” in establishing the State of Israel in 1948.)


NED’s response delineates a number of principles that guide its evaluation processes and determine NGOs that are ineligible for support. These guidelines are critical elements for best practices in NGO funding and strengthen the policies in NED’s statement from February 2012, by which NGOs “are judged…on their ability to implement effective democracy-building projects” not their “rhetoric.”

1) “We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or incitement to violence, and would immediately cease to fund any organization that engaged in it.”

2) “…we do not and cannot support organizations operating anywhere that endorse, advocate or foment violence or spread religious or ethnic hatred. None of the groups NED has supported has denied or advocated against Israel’s right to exist.”

3) “…we seek to assure that none of our funds are used for purposes, such as anti-Israel advocacy, not approved in the grant agreement.”

4) “NED does consider what is carried on an organizational website as relevant to assessing the appropriateness of establishing a grant relationship, even when not funding costs related to the web page,” and NED “regularly monitor[s] grantee activities, statements, and websites.”

However, NGO Monitor does not agree with the following subjective NED guideline, which provides a rationale for continuing funding for grantees that engage in activities that violate universal moral principles.

5) “NED does not automatically disqualify [an NGO] for funding solely on the basis of policy views that appear on its website or are advocated by individuals associated with it, provided that such advocacy is not the principal aspect of the group’s work.”

NGOs that “denied or advocated against Israel’s right to exist”

In responding to NED’s claim that “None of the groups NED has supported has denied or advocated against Israel’s right to exist,” NGO Monitor noted the following examples:

  • NED grantees Al-Dameer, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Holy Land Trust, MIFTAH, and Women’s Affairs Technical Committee all promote BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns. The international BDS campaign opposes Israel’s existence, referring to “ending [Israel’s] occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and advancing a “right of return” that would effectively end the existence of the Jewish state.
  • In 2011 (the same year that his NGO received funding from NED), Gaza Community Mental Health Programme’s director, Eyal el-Sarraj, wrote approvingly of the “new impetus to an international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions directed at Israel’s violations of international law along with a call for a one-state solution with equal rights for all.”
  • MIFTAH has posted numerous articles rejecting the establishment of Israel as “the occupation of the Palestinian land” and “a process of occupation, transfer and genocide” (Dr. Samah Jabr, “Denying the Palestinian Nakba,” May 12, 2008), and advocating for the “dismemberment of the exclusivist, racist Zionist-Jewish-Israeli state, in favor of a democratic, non-hegemonic state, for all the inhabitants of historical Palestine” (Khalil Nakhleh, “Al Nakba of 1948: How Long will it Persist?” March 27, 2008).
  • Al-Dameer put out multiple statements to promote the “right of return” and mark the “Palestinian Nakba” (Catastrophe, i.e. Israel’s founding), “when Palestinians were forced from their homes and ethnically cleansed en masse in a premeditated and organized campaign,” which “was carried out by armed Zionist militia.”

In response, NED wrote:

…with respect to policy views that appear on an organization’s web site or are advocated by individuals associated with it, we do not automatically disqualify it for funding provided such advocacy is not the principal aspect of the group’s work. This, of course, would not apply to rhetoric that incites hatred or violence for which, as we make clear, we have zero tolerance. We understand and appreciate that your position is different, and would only ask that you understand and appreciate ours.

Pre-notification, Self-Reporting, and Due Diligence

In analyzing grants to political advocacy NGOs from U.S. government funding frameworks, we note the failure to assess the full range of activities by recipient NGOs. In many of the examples examined in our initial report, the funding agency did not include consideration of NGO publications and advocacy that violated government policy and donor guidelines – particularly with regard to demonization or calling for the destruction of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Funding decisions based solely on narrow “projects” are inadequate. Similarly, evaluations based primarily on self-reporting of the NGOs do not meet due diligence standards, as acknowledged by NED which “does consider what is carried on an organizational website as relevant to assessing the appropriateness of establishing a grant relationship.”

Another important step towards due diligence would be pre-notification regarding selected NGO grantees and public discussion of proposed funding before decisions are made. Neither NED nor USAID provided such pre-notification regarding grants currently under consideration in their responses to NGO Monitor, and USAID replied that “By Agency policy and due to procurement sensitivities USAID cannot discuss pending grants until they are finalized.” However, best practices and the avoidance of misuse of public funds highlight the importance of pre-notification, congressional review, and public discussion as indispensable elements of the budget cycle of government funding for non-governmental organizations.