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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Funding NGOs is no solution

In an article in this morning's JPost, Bar Ilan University professor Gerald Steinberg says that channelling funds to the 'Palestinians' through NGO's is no solution:


In the face of this dilemma, some European diplomats have begun discussing the option of routing development funds through the network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in human rights and humanitarian work.

Unfortunately, this solution is based on wishful thinking, rather than careful analysis. The hundreds of NGOs that function in the region and work with the Palestinians are part of the problem. They have become parties to the conflict, and not neutral engines of development and peacemakers.

MANY OF the international "superpower" NGOs such as Christian Aid, World Vision, War on Want, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have used their multimillion-dollar budgets on political campaigns. They repeat the Palestinian version of history that labels Israel as "colonialist," and were at the forefront of the campaign in the UN to label Israel's security barrier as the "apartheid wall," while calling for sanctions and boycotts.

In December 2005, following the Israeli disengagement, Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch issued a public letter to President Bush calling for the cutting of US assistance to Israel.

These political and ideological agendas are reinforced through the actions of dozens of local Palestinian and pro-Palestinian NGOs, many of which are financed by European governments, and philanthropies such as the Ford Foundation. Although consistently claiming to promote development and human rights, most of these local NGOs are primarily involved in demonizing Israel.

Among the most dramatic expressions of NGO incitement against Israel took place at the 2001 UN-sponsored Durban conference against "racism and xenophobia." NGO participants in the conference, such as MIFTAH (headed by Hanan Ashrawi), equated Zionism with racism, justified terror as "resistance against occupation," and denounced Israeli defense as a "violation of international law."

Continuing the Durban strategy, the NGO rejectionist rhetoric has grown to include condemnations of Israel's anti-terror actions in Jenin and elsewhere as "war crimes." Many of these groups, which are members of the Palestinian NGO umbrella organization, are active in leading efforts to impose academic and economic boycotts against Israel (including divestment) in order to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Even relatively "clean" NGOs, that really do use the bulk of their funds for health care, education and development, are often unable to resist at least some anti-Israel propaganda. ANERA, which receives over $9 million annually from USAID, still spends a small part of this large sum to contribute to the Palestinian political campaigns. And the World Bank, which is also relatively careful in trying to give money to Palestinian development projects that actually focus on their claimed objectives, supports an NGO "portal" that pushes more demonization of Israel.

Read it all.


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