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UK funding for anti-Israel NGOs

The British Government is recklessly allocating taxpayer funds to groups which hope to build a Palestinian state, not alongside Israel, but in place of it

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Do we really know who we're funding?
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Alex Ryvchin
On 16 October 2012 15:05

When the British taxpayer-funded Hebron Rehabilitation Committee issued a statement in August describing a terror attack by Islamic Jihad as a “heroic operation”, it should have been met with a very swift and severe response from the British Government, and a review of the Foreign Office’s funding practices.

Equally so, when hip-hop artist, Shadia Mansour embarked on a tour of the West Bank on the British taxpayers’ dime, it should have prompted the question: why on earth is the government funding a hip-hop artist’s tour abroad, let alone one to serenade Palestinian children with hateful references to Israel as a “terrorist state” and Judaism as “the hijacked faith”?

Both Mansour and the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee received funding from the Foreign Office, which distributes British taxpayer money through its missions in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The ostensible purpose is to advance the government’s “objectives and policy goals” in the region.  

No doubt the Government (and the taxpayer) must be wondering just how the Government’s “objectives” align with those of a hate-filled rapper and a group which lauds terrorists.

But these cases are hardly unique. They are indicative of a broader trend of financing individuals and organisations whose political activities undermine the Government’s own policies promoting peace in the Middle East.

For its part, the government has been unequivocal in its rejection of the unconscionable movement of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and has steadfastly maintained that peace will only come through negotiations and co-operation. Yet the Foreign Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development continue to fund groups that actively advocate the total isolation of the Jewish state.

This well-financed campaign trivialises and politicises human rights, adds fuel to the conflict and, to be clear, seeks nothing less than the ultimate destruction of Israel.

One leading boycott activist – Ahmed Moor – removed the cloud used to obfuscate the motives of the movement, when he declared: “Boycotts, divestment and sanctions does mean the end of the Jewish state… Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean ending the Jewish state itself.”

Another textbook example of an organisation which receives Government funding by speaking the language of human rights and then proceeds to promote a movement aimed at the destruction of a democratic state is Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS). The organisation is highly active in encouraging anti-Israel boycotts, divestment, and sanctions and frequently accuses Israel of “apartheid" in a bid to justify its calls for Israel’s total isolation.

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of DCI-PS’s use of humanitarian issues to advance a clear political agenda is the manner in which it represents entirely unbalanced, de-contextualised, and often hysterical accusations as fact.

Aside from its frequent references to Israel’s penchant for “deliberate targeting” and “terrorising” of civilians, the group has reported on alleged civilian deaths while admitting that “no reliable evidence could be gathered” to support some of it claims.

The government’s support for such organisations contributes to the dissemination of unreliable and sensationalised information which impacts both on the public discourse and the policy decisions which follow it.

As for DCI-PS and other NGOs more interested in slamming Israel than advancing legitimate humanitarian interests, their impact is twofold. Firstly, their tactics subvert the government’s efforts for peace in the region. Secondly, any measure of objectivity or credibility they may claim is lost amidst their extreme rhetoric and shameless politicisation of human rights. 

It is not only humanitarian virtues that are being exploited by organisations with radical political agendas. Indeed, the Holy Land Trust (HLT) uses its position of privilege as a religious group to espouse virulently anti-Israel views under the guise of religious ideals.

HLT is the recipient of numerous government grants. It counsels it’s members to be evasive with Israeli authorities upon entering the country, supports calls for an academic boycott of Israel (another attack on the government’s position that peace is to be achieved through co-operation and not division), and its executive director and founder, Sami Awad, has asserted that non-violent demonstrations are “not a substitute for the armed struggle” in spite of his group’s stated “commitment to the principles of nonviolence,”

Such activities are not only an egregious misuse of donor funds, they do absolutely nothing to serve the interests of peace.

The government’s foreign policy in the Middle East is centered on helping Israel and the Palestinians “find a way back to negotiations as soon as possible.” This is how peace will be achieved. This is how Israel will realise its dream of peaceful co-existence with its neighbours. This is how the Palestinians will realise their dream of statehood.

Yet the government recklessly allocates taxpayer funds to groups which hope to build a Palestinian state not alongside Israel but in place of it, which ignore the relentless campaign of terror against Israeli civilians that demonises Israel through absurd accusations of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing”.

By doing so, the government is merely eroding its very own vision of a two-state solution and fostering an atmosphere of mutual distrust and animosity at a time when understanding and co-operation are most needed.

Alex Ryvchin is an Israel Research Fellow at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institution. He previously practised law in London and is also the founder of The Jewish Thinker 

Read more on: uk foreign office, foreign office and Palestinian aid, foreign office in Israel, British Foreign Office and Israel, Alex Ryvchin, Holy Land Trust, Defence for Children International, Shadia Mansour, Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, Boycott Divestment Sanctions, boycott divestment and sanctions, boycott Israel, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Israel boycott movement, BDS movement, and NGO Monitor
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