I ended a recent article by turning the spotlight on the multitude of foreign-sponsored Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in Israel; at the time, I promised to address the issue in more detail. So here it is.
Despite the pretence, the ‘Israeli NGOs’ are neither ‘Israeli’ nor ‘Non-Governmental’: although operating in Israel, they depend on foreign funding, including directly and indirectly by foreign governments – especially those from the European Union. In short, they are not ‘Israeli NGOs’, but Foreign Political Subversion Groups (FPSGs) – and this is how I’ll refer to them henceforth.
There are tens if not hundreds of ‘Israeli’ FPSGs – more than in any other part of the world and certainly more than anywhere else in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia practises a particularly abhorrent form of gender apartheid; it currently occupies Bahrein and is systematically bombing neighbouring Yemen (which committed no act of aggression against Saudi Arabia), causing many hundreds of civilian victims. Yet it is not the Saudi absolute monarchy, but the Israeli democracy that European money is slyly attempting to undermine.
In a previous piece, I described ICAHD, Jeff Halper’s neo-Marxist groupuscule, which proposes to dissolve the State of Israel into a ‘regional entity’ to include also the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. But let’s take this time a different (or, on second thought, not that different!) example: an FPSG called ‘Zochrot’. Its website claims that the organisation militates for
“Return of the Palestinian refugees [and descendants thereof, in perpetuity] to their country on the basis of acknowledgement and accountability, coupled with a joint Jewish-Palestinian process of restitution founded on the principles of transitional justice.”
The website makes it clear (as if it were necessary) that the “joint Jewish-Palestinian process” is really a one-way street: “acknowledgement”, “accountability” and “restitution” are due only from Jews to Palestinians.
What that would imply is described by the founders of Zochrot in the following terms:
“Jews relinquish sovereignty, exclusive control over the country, the guaranteed Jewish majority. After more than 100 years of socialization to Zionism, that will require courage and daring. 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. Jews will no longer be able to determine their future, and that of the Palestinians, by themselves. They will have rights as a minority in a democracy, but also many constraints.”
And what will the Palestinians have to do to make that heavenly dream come true? Why, they will also be required to make a huge sacrifice: they’ll have to agree to live together with Jews!
“Palestinians, for their part, will have to relinquish the materialization of their dream of a lost paradise. The mythological Palestine, in which all was wonderful, will never return, and will exist only in the world of memory and yearning. For Palestinians, living with Jews means living with the occupier, with those who expelled most of their countrymen. This is a tremendous challenge for someone whose land was occupied, and who would certainly have preferred the occupier to simply disappear, evaporate. That won’t happen.”
But, lest the Palestinians should worry too much about “living with the occupier”, Zochrot’s founders are quick to re-assure them: ‘don’t worry, not all Jews will stay’.
“There may be Jews, most of them of European origin, who won’t be able to adjust to a non-Zionist reality, and prefer to use their other passport to move elsewhere, but many will remain – among them those who simply have nowhere else to go, or don’t have the resources to leave.”
One of Zochrot’s ‘partners’ (‘accomplices’ may be a better description) has produced a disturbing Youtube video entitled ‘The Holocaust’s Visit to Yad Vashem’. In it, she plays the role of a personified Holocaust. Addressing the Jews, ‘the Holocaust’ berates them:
“I am the Holocaust… the best thing that ever happened to whom?… to you. […] Thanks to me you have a country… Thanks to me and only me you have an army…There is no one more responsible for your success than whom?…than me. [… touching her nether parts] This is the cunt that dropped you into Palestine!”
The video was produced with the ‘generous collaboration’ of Zochrot: the outfit’s founder played one of the characters, while another Zochrot member acted as cameraman and editor.
But, standards of sanity and normal behaviour notwithstanding, Zochrot’s mercenaries are certainly not starving. In fact, the group is funded by a number of foreign organisations – some of them (unsurprisingly?) German. Among them is Misereor, which introduces itself as ‘the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation’. It is hard to understand what ‘development’ opportunity have the good bishops identified in Zochrot; what persuaded them to ‘charitably’ give it EUR 115,000 in the first quarter of 2015 alone. But it is not so difficult to track the source of the money: as Misereor proudly boasts on its website, two thirds of its budget comes from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, which
“every year […] provides it with considerable sums of tax monies”.
The same website further informs us that
“This cooperation [between the Federal Ministry and Misereor] is based on mutual trust, and two principles: The German Development Ministry has pledged not to tie these monies to political conditionalities. At the same time it must be ensured that no pastoral or missionary measures, which in any case are not included in MISEREOR’s mandate, are promoted with public funds.”
It seems that presenting today’s Jews as demonic creatures spawned by the Holocaust violates no “political conditionality”; nor does it qualify as “pastoral or missionary”. So why wouldn’t the German taxpayer fund such worthy endevour??
Karl Marx famously argued that ‘religion is the opium of the people’. But modern European leftists often find opium – and just about anything that gets you high – of great help. Hence, it is perhaps no surprise to find alongside ‘the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation’ a think-tank called ‘Rosa Luxemburg’, belonging to the far-left German political coalition ‘Die Linke’, the political successor of the communist party which ruled East Germany before the demolition of the Berlin Wall. The think-tank sees itself as
“part of the intellectual current of democratic socialism”
As democratic, we opine, as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik; and as ‘socialist’ as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.
The National… err… excuse me… the Democrat Socialists have only made a small financial contribution to the ‘cause’: they provided Zochrot with a rather meagre quarterly handout worth 20,000 Israeli Shekels.
But do not worry, folks – no Jew-hater shall be left to starve. And since the Germans fell short of providing Zochrot with the standard of life they’ve become accustomed to, in stepped the British charity Oxfam; after all, this is an organisation which purports to help the poor! Oxfam assures its donors that
“For every £1 you give to Oxfam, 82p goes directly to emergency, development and campaigning work”.
I am left wondering whether paying off self-hating Jews falls under ‘development’ or ‘campaigning’. It’s certainly not ‘emergency’; I’m sure that the 25,000 Israeli shekels given to Zochrot in 2014 will be sorely missed in Nepal, Syria and a hundred other places. In case you ask yourselves where the money came from, I can tell you that in 2013/2014 almost half of Oxfam’s income (roughly £400 million) came from the British taxpayer, through Her Majesty’s Government and other public authorities. Oxfam, by the way, spent in the same year less than £270 million on ‘charitable activities’. Which according to my – admittedly poor – knowledge of non-Oxfamian arithmetics, is less than 70p in every £1. Not 82p; but hey-ho…
Zochrot is not the only outfit that benefits from Her Majesty’s Government largesse (or, rather, from the hard-earned money of the British taxpayer). Plenty of FPSGs do. Some receive their funds directly from British governmental agencies; other indirectly, through the ‘good offices’ of various charities. Some overtly proclaim their ridiculous message; others (think B’tselem, Gisha, Ir Amim, Yesh Din, etc. etc.) are somewhat more skilled at camouflaging it under a layer of ‘humanitarian’ blurb. All FPSGs, however, share some common ‘DNA’.
Firstly, they focus primarily – and obsessively – on the Arab-Israeli conflict (and especially on relations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs), expounding positions ranging from extreme anti-Zionism to just-short-of Zionism; in consequence, they are harshly critical of Israel’s government (or rather of Israeli governments – left, right and centre) and often also of Israel as a country. They tend to be driven by far-left or extreme-left ideologies.
Secondly, they operate outside the normal framework of Israel’s political life. Since they command the allegiance of much less than 1% of the Israeli electorate, they stand no chance of being represented in the country’s 120-strong parliament. Incapable of generating support for their ‘causes’ among the Israeli populace (beyond a tiny number of activists), these outfits have, in practice, given up on trying to democratically persuade their countrymen. It is not the Israeli public opinion that they are keen to influence; rather, their purpose (sometimes openly declared, otherwise just obvious from their activity) is to persuade foreigners. In their twisted world, it is foreigners – people who do not live, do not pay taxes and do not vote in Israel – that should determine the country’s future, by ‘applying pressure’ on the Israeli government – i.e. the government elected by those who live, pay taxes and vote in Israel. If you think that is stridently anti-democratic – I certainly don’t blame you!
The FPSGs share also a very particular modus operandi: their ‘activity’ (directed, as explained above, at foreign audiences) consists of writing ‘reports’ (quickly translated into English, of course), providing press releases and interviews to gullible and/or biased foreign journalists, and delivering presentations and other types of ammunition to anti-Israel foreign audiences.
All of the above, of course, needs to be harshly critical of Israel; the more over-the-top the criticism – the better the chances of continued and ‘upgraded’ funding. After all, if foreign funders are to be persuaded to throw big money at a problem – it better be a big problem!
A friend once asked me, astounded: “How come that there are so many Jews and even Israeli Jews who take the side of Israel’s enemies?”
To start with, they are not ‘many’ at all. In fact, they are a tiny – if noisy – minority, inhabiting the fringes of Jewish and Israeli public opinion. The reason that there are so many FPSGs is simply extreme fragmentation: each small groupuscule typically establishes its own ‘organisation’, claiming to focus on one particular issue: house demolitions, freedom of access to Gaza, ‘settlements’ in East Jerusalem, etc. etc. Not only does this create the illusion of ‘many’ voices, but – as these mercenary ‘activists’ have learned – it makes it easier to attract foreign funding. Often, these ‘career activists’ migrate from one FPSG to another, following the smell of foreign money: several of Gisha’s leading activists, for instance, have previously done a stint with B’tselem…
But, ‘many’ or not, how come that such opinions are held by Jews and Israelis? Well, why should that come as any surprise? There will always be – among Gentiles as well as Jews – odd people who say and do strange things. There were Africans who sold their brethren into slavery; there were (few, but there were) blacks who opposed the abolition of slavery; there were blacks who supported apartheid; there were Brits who supported Hitler; there was even an Italian Jew among the founders of Mussolini’s fascist movement. In democratic, open-to-the-point-of-foolishness Israel, even aberrations are free to exist and express themselves unhindered.
A better question is: why do European governments fund the FPSGs? Why do they foment sedition against the elected government of a fellow democracy? Why is it, for instance, that the British government pays money to fringe political causes in a foreign country – especially one endowed with its own sturdy democratic institutions?
According to NGO Monitor, an organisation led by Gerald Steinberg, Professor of Political Science and founder of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation:
“The British government provides millions of pounds annually, through direct and indirect funding processes, to highly politicized NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that operate in the UK, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.”
NGO Monitor has written to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, enquiring about the British involvement. In its response, the FCO claimed that
“The UK Government does not support the BDS movement, […] we have been very clear that the boycotts movement is not productive […] it could be deeply corrosive.”
But NGO Monitor notes that, despite its statement
“[…] the British government partners with and supports NGOs that undermine peace efforts and increase tensions. For instance, some UK-funded organizations pursue partisan and divisive agendas, are heavily involved in ‘lawfare’ and BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns, and employ the rhetoric accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’, ‘ethnic cleansing’, and ‘war crimes’.”
NGO Monitor further complains about lack of transparency:
“Information on projects funded by the Department for International Development (DFID – ‘UK Aid’) is available in a projects database. However, local NGO recipients, which receive UK funds via international organizations, appear anonymously as ‘civil society organizations / NGOs’ (‘Supplier Name Withheld’)”.
‘Supplier Name Withheld’?? Why the secrecy? NGO Monitor has eventually gained access to some of the information, but only through a decision of the UK Information Commisioner’s Office (ICO), after the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) refused to honour a Freedom of Information request.
It should come as no surprise that the FCO is less than willing to reveal its financial dealings in Israel; they are not exactly ‘kosher’. The British government would not dream of funding pro-Basque or pro-Catalan political activities in Spain; it does not even dare criticise the blatant anti-Roma policies of fellow European governments. Her Majesty’s Government (and, quite rightly, Her Majesty’s subjects) would take a very dim view of Israel, if it were to – say – fund the SNP, or the Scottish ‘Yes Campaign’; yet the same government allocates money to radical political movements in Israel!
Nor does the money come with no strings attached. Quite the opposite: in order to partake of the European ‘generosity’, the FPSGs are required to sign contracts, committing themselves to perform certain ‘services’; which include (nay, consist of!) bashing the Israeli government, the Israeli Army and Israel in general.
Take, for instance, an FPSG called ‘Breaking the Silence’. It presents itself as
“an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military”,
the implication being that it’s made up of patriots. Yet among its ‘partners’ one finds good ol’ ICAHD – the FPSG that wants to dissolve the State of Israel and replace it with an Arab-majority ‘regional entity’…
‘Breaking the Silence’ is paid not to perform unbiased, honest research, but specifically to obtain and provide ‘negative testimonies’ from (anonymous!) Israeli soldiers who (so the FPSG purports) participated in military operations in Gaza.
According to Deloitte, which audited its finances, the FPSG signed an agreement with one of the donors (Oxfam UK), committing to interview ”as many soldiers as possible”; but not just any ol’ soldiers, no. Apparently, Oxfam UK is only interested in soldiers that testify regarding “immoral actions” that violate human rights. Oxfam UK has zero interest in soldiers (the vast, overwhelming majority) who think that the Army’s actions were moral; such testimonies won’t be worth Oxfam’s ‘investment’ and won’t earn ‘Breaking the Silence’ any money.
The purpose of bashing Israel is even clearer when the funds are channeled through Palestinian organisations. Thus, in August 2014, the Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (a Palestinian outfit jointly funded by Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands) contracted nine FPSGs – including Breaking the Silence and B’tselem – to document “human rights and international humanitarian law violations during the course of Israel’s ongoing military offensive on the Gaza Strip.”
In the case of B’tselem, by the way, the Palestinians are not just paymasters; they also do the actual work of ‘documenting’ Israel’s ‘violations’. Indeed, a visit to the FPSGs website reveals that all its ‘field researchers’ are… Palestinians; on the other hand, all three B’tselem activists engaged in ‘International Relations’ have Jewish names. Thus, B’tselem’s ‘reports’ are paid by Palestinians, concocted by Palestinians and ‘packaged’ as ‘Israeli’ for the benefit of naïve ‘internationals’. If you think that this is unethical and stinks rather strongly of collaboration with the enemy, I can’t fault your sense of smell; had some Palestinians behaved in a remotely similar fashion, they would have been executed as ‘collaborators’. But for the bunch of gullible, biased and ideologically-ossified journos that populate outlets like the BBC and The Guardian, collaborators like B’tselem assume the role of ‘Israel’s conscience’!
As a democracy, Israel should be (and very much is!) open to criticism. But it should not be a push-over. The most basic tenet of democracy is, after all, that it is the people that makes the decisions. ‘The people’ as in ‘those who live, pay taxes and vote in that country’. To preserve that basic tenet, a democracy has the right (nay, has the duty!) to defend itself – not just against the enemies who want to physically overcome it, but also against the false friends who attempt to undermine it. It is high time Israel told Europeans, in no uncertain terms, to mind their own business. And their own (rather heavy!) conscience.