European Union funding is supporting radical non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are bastions of anti-Israeli political warfare under the guise of promoting peace, human rights and democracy, says Prof. Gerald Steinberg. Steinberg is the President of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based independent research institution and NGO watchdog.
According to the European Jewish Press, Steinberg explained:
“Taxpayer money is being channeled to organisations and activities that fuel the conflict, in violation of democratic principles. The EU can make a positive contribution to Israeli-Palestinian peace, but this requires a basic change in funding for radical NGOs.” Steinberg made the statements to a meeting of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel, where he presented the findings of a new NGO Monitor report on ”EU funding for political advocacy NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Steinberg stressed the need for hearings in the European Parliament to facilitate policies that will end the shroud of secrecy and complexity under which the European Union allocates funding to political NGOs.
Steinberg recommended the creation of a joint EU-Israel committee to address the problem. “There is a need for transparent, independent, and professional evaluation of EU allocations to NGOs and for guidelines on the appropriate uses of taxpayer funds to prevent funding for NGOs that promote violence or justify terror.”
In particular, Steinberg pointed to the EU’s highly disproportionate funding for NGOs through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) which, “allocated over 11 million euros to NGOs in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which represents 57% of EIDHR funding directed at the Middle East, while projects in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are largely ignored by such EU frameworks.”
As just one the example, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), which in 2010 was awarded an EIDHR grant of 169,661 Euros, presented a completely one-sided, context-free perspective on the conflict, including accusations against Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid.”
Numerous EU funded organisations routinely employ demonising anti-Israel rhetoric, campaign for anti-Israel boycott efforts (BDS), actively lobby international frameworks, and engage in anti-Israel “lawfare” activities, says the NGO Monitor report.
Notwithstanding Steinberg’s documented charges, Leonello Gabrici, a senior EU official from the European Union External Action Service (EEAS), made a blanket denial of the accusations: “In order to get EU money, these NGOs have to respond to criteria and a programme approved by the EU institutions.”
In response to Steinberg’s presentation, Gabrici claimed, “We are not working on boycotting Israel but rather on preparing an unprecedented package of EU-added value for peace.”
The European funding of NGOs hostile to virtually all Israeli Palestinian-related policies regardless of the security context–and often hostile to the State of Israel itself, has been a source of conflict between Israel and Europe.
The topic carries extra sensitivity in the Jewish state due to the extensive history of anti-Semitism in many European countries. Many Israelis consider it galling that these same countries effectively sponsor agitation against Israel for alleged human rights violations.