On Tuesday, most Israelis will celebrate 66 years of independence and freedom, marking the re-establishment of sovereignty for the Jewish people after two thousand years of exile. But for a small and vocal group of Israeli NGOs (non-governmental organizations), this day commemorates the Palestinian nakba – the Arabic word for catastrophe. This term is used in reference to the war, led by five Arab armies, which sought to erase the Jewish state from the map after the UN General Assembly voted for a “two state solution” on November 29, 1947.
Using money provided by a number of European governments and intensely anti-Israel church groups, these radical Israeli NGOs fill an important function in today’s political war that seeks to roll back history to before 1948. Their slogans call for a “one-state” framework, meaning the eradication of Israel as the internationally recognized homeland of the Jewish people. They are not peace groups in any sense – for them, the “two-states for two peoples” formula is anathema.
Zochrot (Hebrew for ‘remembrance’) is an Israel-based NGO that holds marches and other events to “raise public awareness” of the nakba” and to “materialize” the so-called “right of return” for millions who claim to be descended from refugees from the 1948 war. (Zochrot makes no mention of the six-thousand Israelis killed in repelling the Arab invasion – one percent of the entire population at the time — or of the almost one-million Jewish refugees from Arab countries.) According to Zochrot head Eitan Bronstein, “When the refugees return, Jews will become a minority in the country. Israel as a Jewish state will change radically, and it will no longer be defined as such.” Zochrot supports “de-Zionized Palestine,” and refers to Israel as having an “ethnicized and racialized Zionist” system.
In 2012, Bronstein went to Cape Town, South Africa, in order “to learn from cases of expulsion and return,” Zochrot published “The Cape Town Document,” declaring, “It is our hope that the new political structure created in de-Zionized Palestine will be that of a single democratic state.” And in September 29-30, they held a “conference” in Tel Aviv, entitled “From Truth to Redress: Realizing the Return of Palestinian Refugees.” Such events feature “nakba maps” in which Israel is literally as well as figuratively erased.
Zochrot is accompanied by other NGOs that promote the “one-state” formula around the world and obsessively advance demonization campaigns seeking the end of Israel. The Alternative Information Center (AIC) promotes the radical ideology of its founder and head, Michael Warschawski. Echoing Zochrot’s slogans, Warschawski has declared that “Peace, or, better, justice, cannot be achieved without a total decolonization (one can say de-Zionisation) of the IsraeliState.” AIC’s support for erasing Israel from the map is reflected in his call to “unequivocally reject the very idea (and existence) of a Jewish state, whatever will be its borders.”
Among other venues, AIC spreads its propaganda in “conferences” held under the sponsorship of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). This framework was created in 1975, in parallel to the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution (which was rescinded in 1991). In addition to AIC, other Israeli NGOs that participate in the committee’s anti-Israel events include the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) whose leader promotes the elimination of Israel via the “one-state solution.”
While most Israelis reject such self-destructive agendas, elsewhere, particularly in Europe, these and other NGOs contribute significantly to the political war seeking to end Jewish self-determination. Their funding comes from European governments, under the façade of “peace projects,” and through church-based “humanitarian aid” frameworks (Catholic and Protestant), in secret allocation processes and without the due diligence expected in the use of taxpayer funding. This money is used by the anti-Israel fringe to produce videos, publish glossy pamphlets, and travel around the world, promoting demonization.
For example, both ICAHD and AIC have received significant funding from the European Union, ostensibly for projects promoting peace and human rights, although neither NGO displays evidence of competence in advancing the official objectives. In addition, the governments of Spain, France, Ireland, Sweden, and the Geneva Municipality have provided money. Zochrot’s campaigns also come from a number of European governments, including Germany, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands, which officially support a “two-state solution”, while in practice promoting the opposite.
As we enter our 67th year, Israeli democracy is strong enough to tolerate fringe voices that demonize Zionism and call for the reversal of Jewish sovereign equality. But there is no excuse for the European governments that directly and indirectly provide funds used to amplify their destructive agendas.