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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NGO funding and national priorities: EU support may be conditional on allowing anti-Zionist agitation

Everyone knows the old joke about the mugger who says "Your money or your life." The victim says, "Take my life, I need my money for my old age."
This is the proposition that Gush Shalom shamelessly and seriously threatens to try to implement. If Israel does not allow the EU to support anti-Zionist groups like Alternative Information Center, Badil and Adalah, then Gush Shalom will lobby the EU to withdraw support for universities and hospitals. The EU is trying to give complete coverage: first they support the terrorist groups, and then they support the hospitals to fix up the victims. A good deal.
Under the rubric of supporting peace, education for democracy and promotion of understanding and dialogue, the EU and some non-EU European countries have funded organizations that educate for violence and armed resistance, fight to destroy the right of the Jewish people to self determination, generate outrageously falsified historical narratives, incite Palestinians to demand "right of return" and encourage one state "solutions." Groups like Adalah, Badil, Alternative Information Center, ICAHD and several other organizations are all trying to destroy the Jewish state, eliminate "Apartheid Israel and fight the "Zionist enemy." With no state, we don't need any hospitals or any universities either, as none of us will be here.
As far as anyone knows, however, there is no actual proposition afoot for blocking NGO funding by anyone, just some unnamed "senior officials" who were thinking aloud. Gush Shalom therefore seems to have floated this balloon in order to get a bit of publicity for themselves, a forgivable and understandable propensity of such groups. If they can blacken Israel in the process, so much the better.
However, rather than blocking funding, Israel should insist on complete transparency of donor operations and funding, which are currently hidden intentionally in a mire of red tape and euphemisms. NGO status should also be contingent on strict criteria that prevent NGOs from operating in Israel if they are working to destroy the state or encouraging violence. See (How to deal with foreign NGO dunding), The goal is to stop the organizations from operating, not just to cut off funding from a particular source. It is not the business of the Israeli government to tell Europeans how to spend their money. As it is, they are directly or indirectly subsidizing the Hamas regime in Gaza and there is not much Israel can do about it. But it is the business of the Israeli government to decide what groups can be NGOs.  
In any case, it is a monstrous idea to propose that the EU can force Israel to allow them to subsidize groups that advocate overthrowing the state in order to get funding for universities. Would Spain tolerate a proposition that requires that they allow funding of the ETA terrorists if they want funding for hospitals?
Here is Gush Shalom's proposition:
As the Israeli government steps up efforts to limit foreign funding for human rights group, an Israeli peace organization sent a letter to European diplomatic missions in Israel this week urging them to tell Israel that that legislative action against NGOs may threaten the budget of universities, hospitals and other non-profit organizations.
The government has sought to limit the activity of Breaking the Silence, an organization that has published a damning report of the IDF's conduct during last winter's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
In the letter, Gush Shalom told the diplomats that "the discriminatory blocking of European government funding to a specific group of legal and legitimate NGOs may well result in a public backlash in the EU, which would force your government to cut all funding to Israeli NGOs, including to universities and hospitals."

The group added that it had been opposed to campaigns, which sought to withhold funding to Israeli non-profits, in the hope that the Israeli government would also reconsider.
Gush Shalom also noted that the tax exemptions for non-profit organizations constitute indirect funding for organizations, and asked that the EU Commission warn the Israeli government that these benefits "could be withdrawn for the large number of Christian Zionist organizations in the EU financially supporting West Bank settlement activities."
Human rights groups in the European Union are reportedly preparing to launch a public campaign lobbying EU governments as well as the
European Commission to stop funding Israeli non-governmental
Ami Isseroff

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