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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cut the cash, end the hostility

In today's Jerusalem Post, Gerald Steinberg wonders about the inconsistency between the EU's refusal to fund Hamas and their continued funding for other radical groups that promote Israel's demonization.

IN THIS CONTEXT, the continued funding that the European Union provides for radical groups that promote the demonization of Israel is totally inconsistent A few months ago, despite the policy changes in other areas, undisclosed EU officials selected some radical non-governmental organizations to participate in its Partnership for Peace Program. These partners include Machsom Watch, the promoters of the now-defunct Geneva scheme, and a small group known as ICAHD (the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions). ICAHD, which has received EU funding in the past, received an additional Euro 472,786 for a project entitled, in pseudo-academic jargon, "Re-Framing: Providing a Coherent Paradigm of Peace to the Israeli Public."

The idea that officials should use money provided by European taxpayers to propagandize citizens in another democracy is, in itself, fundamentally misguided. Would the citizens of France tolerate a huge US-government funded anti-abortion campaign headlined "Re-framing: Providing a Coherent Program Against Infanticide to the French Public"?

Europeans view government subsidies for specially selected, politicized interest groups as part of a "civil society" philosophy. But using such resources to manipulate the public debate in other democratic countries, including Israel, is misguided.

IN THIS CASE, the problem goes far deeper than manipulation via funding for interest groups. Some EU officials still promoting Europe's political war against Israel are using this funding to support radical groups under the guise of the "Partnership for Peace" program. ICAHD is a fringe NGO, whose main figure, Jeff Halper, actively participated in the 2001 Durban conference.

As the Anglican Church in England debates anti-Israel divestment - the latest version of the Durban strategy - Halper is a frequent supporter. He often appears next to Naim Ateek, who runs Sabeel, an extremist Palestinian NGO. As participants in an interfaith dialogue noted, Ateek denies "the legitimate right of the Jewish people to live in their land, and echoed medieval anti-Semitic canards."

With Halper's help, Sabeel is described as "the driving force behind the scenes pushing mainline Protestant denominations to adopt a policy of divestment."

Halper indulges in similar incitement, declaring that "A Jewish state has proven politically and morally untenable," calling the two-state solution "unacceptable" and referring to "Israeli apartheid."

When these extreme statements are made by an Israeli Jew - whose salary and expenses are paid by the European Union - it is easier to claim legitimacy and avoid the label of anti-Semitism.

Read it all.


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