Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely has told European foreign ministers, their deputies and several European ambassadors that their governments, including the UK’s, provide financial assistance to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that “actively blacken Israel’s name around the world.”
The European Jewish Press reports Hotovely (below right) has already met with the Dutch foreign minister, the Spanish deputy foreign minister and the ambassadors of Sweden, the European Union, the UK, Denmark and Switzerland to warn them against their funding of anti-Israel activism. Detailed documentary evidence collated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and NGO Monitor was presented to prove the “problematic” funding.
Hotovely told them that Jerusalem draws a red line when it comes to funding for groups that delegitimise the state of Israel, lobby for Israel’s return to pre-67 borders or slander Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
She said that the NGOs do not just support boycotts against Israel, but also:
- accuse it of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and war crimes;
- deprive the Jewish people of their right to self-determination;
- call to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court at The Hague; and
- support the Palestinian right of return.
With further top-level meetings to come, the Deputy Foreign Minister is both directly urging UK and European officials to increase oversight of their funding projects, and asking her Israeli ambassadors in Europe to demand that governments increase their own overview of funds given to such groups. This, she says, should ensure their taxpayers’ money funds genuine human rights’ groups rather than merely anti-Israel organisations. Some of the named NGOs, she alleged, are associated with and, in some cases, actively support terror groups working towards Israel’s destruction.
According to the evidence provided by Hotovely, the following are some of the recent European investments in organisations she alleges are more about attacking Israel than promoting genuine human rights:
- The UK provided £2 million in 2008-2011 to Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din – Volunteers For Human Rights, Gisha, Bimkom, Terrestrial Jerusalem, and No Legal Frontiers;
- The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University in the West Bank, received £6.7 million from the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, funds were to go to 24 political organisations over three years;
- The Coalition of Women for Peace – in 2014, the governments of Germany, Sweden, Norway, and the EU provided £70,000 to the Coalition of Women for Peace, an organisation that supports aspects of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement;
- in the last three years the Netherlands provided £2.2 million to numerous NGOs, including Who Profits, Al-Haq, The Coalition of Women for Peace, and the Al-Mezan Center For Human Rights;
- Denmark donated £3.9 million in the last three years to a number of NGOs, including Breaking the Silence, BADIL – Resource Center For Palestinian Residency And Refugee Rights, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and other Palestinian organisations;
- Switzerland provided £835,000 over the last three years to the like of the Alternative Information Center, Zochrot, the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem, and Terrestrial Jerusalem; and
- Spain gave £637,000 in the last three years to groups including Breaking the Silence, The Coalition of Women for Peace, the Alternative Information Center, and NOVA – Center For Social Initiative, a Spanish Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions organisation.
If the UK and other European countries fail to manage adequate oversight, the minister said Israel may consider introducing its own legislation directly to criminalise the funding of anti-Israel groups. The Times of Israel reports such legislation could be similar to the United States’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires those acting on behalf of other governments and groups to declare themselves as such.
The American law was passed in 1938 to enable the US government to block undue foreign influence in domestic issues. A similar measure proposed by Hotovely earlier this year would have forced any NGO in receipt of foreign funding to apply for Knesset approval for a tax exemption. That bill was pilloried by those who said it would be used to crack down on funding for left-leaning NGOs.