Saturday, October 26, 2013

Study: Main German political party foundations fund anti-Israel activity


Israeli organization calls for accountability and transparency.

The Reichstag building seen from the west. Inscription translates to "For/To the German People"
The Reichstag building seen from the west. Inscription translates to "For/To the German People" Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Berlin- Germany’s main political parties transferred public funds through their foundations to Israel-based NGOs, as well organizations in the disputed territories, which are rife with bias against the Jewish state and, in some cases, anti-Semitism, according to a study released last week by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.

Professor Gerald Steinberg, the head of NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post, "As NGO Monitor's detailed report shows, while German political foundations claim a mandate for promoting democracy, peace and human rights, a significant portion of their activities related to Israel are immoral. And despite the use of taxpayer funds, the foundations fail the transparency test.”

He said of the German foundations “Their positive contributions do not justify demonization and political warfare targeting Israel -- Germany should be leading the way in ending Europe's role in attacking the legitimacy of Jewish sovereign equality."

The 75-page study titled “German Funding for Political Advocacy NGOs Active in the Arab-Israeli Conflict“found the Green Party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Christian Democratic Union party’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation funded the pro-Palestinian MIFTAH. The allegations levelled against Miftah in the NGO Monitor report are its publications have accused Israel of “massacre,” “cultural genocide,” “war crimes,” and “apartheid.”

The MIFTAH Arabic-language website published an article on an anti-Semitic blood libel in response to U.S. President Obama’s support for Israel and his celebration of the Passover Seder. After allegation of anti-Semitism, MIFTAH removed the article. The Böll foundation funneled $24,416 to MIFTAH in 2011.The Adenauer Foundation distributed $92,869 in 2011 and 2012 to MIFTAH. Chancellor Angela’s Merkel’s party is affiliated with the Adenauer Foundation.

The German Left Party’s organization, The Rose Luxemburg Foundation, funded the Coalition for Women of Peace (CWP) with NIS 197,969 in 2010 and NIS 146,026 in 2011. NGO Monitor claimed CWP officials have been photographed hoisting a flag of the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The CWP supports the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, wrote NGO Monitor.

In an email to The Post, Zohar Elmakias, a spokesperson for CWP, wrote "CWP is a leading women's peace movement, and we stand with integrity behind every our word and action. With increasing domestic and international criticism of the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian
people, it is not surprising that reactionary, extremist right-wing and
anti-democratic groups disguising themselves as ‘objective’ desperately try
to slander progressive forces in the Israeli society.”

NGO Monitor’s report noted that the Luxemburg Foundation, and the German Holocaust foundation Remembrance, Responsibility, Future( EVZ), distributed funds to the Israeli NGO Zochrot, which seeks to “raise public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba… Along with it, the rights of the refugees to return must be accepted” and has accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing.”
EVZ did not respond to Post queries.

According to NGO Monitor, the agenda of Zochrot is the “equivalent to calling for the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.” Post queries to Zochrot were not immediately answered.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), which is aligned with the German Social Democratic party, used its office in Jerusalem to blame Israel for the failed peace talks with the Palestinians, according to NGO Monitor. In late 2011, Michael Broning, director of FES’ Jerusalem office, co-wrote an article with the director of the Palestinian Government Media Center in Ramallah, Ghassan Khatib, stating “What about Israeli Rejection.” The authors stated Palestinian rejectionism is not the problem, noted the study.

The Free Democrats party’s The Friedrich Naumann Foundation funded the Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS). The Free Democrats refused to disclose their financial support to RCHRS. NGO Monitor claimed in its report “Following the March 2002 suicide bombing attacks and“Operation Defensive Shield, RCHRS issued a statement promoting the false claim that Israel committed ‘massacres’ in Jenin and Nablus. RCHRS has also accused Israel of ‘terrirorist [sic] crimes,’ and making children the ‘sacrifice for the racial hatred [sic].”’

The Christian Social Union, the Bavarian-based sister party of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats, used its Hans Seidel Foundation to fund The I’lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel . According to NGO Monitor, “I’lam’s reports and publications reflect promotion of the demonization campaign, including unsupported claims of bias and discrimination against Israeli Arab citizens of Israel in the media.” Seidel does not reveal its funding amounts.

The NGO Monitor study found that there was an overall lack of accountability and transparency throughout the German political foundations and their funding streams in terms of work in Israel and the disputed Palestinian territories.

In response to a Post query, the representatives of the six German political foundations in Israel, wrote in a letter,”The German political foundations are a unique instrument of the Federal Republic of Germany. We take pride in the wide range of our contributions to political dialogue, stipends, academia and development cooperation as well as in the endorsements we receive from all sectors of Israeli society. It is the belief in pluralistic democracy that remains the guiding principle for our work and for our diverse contributions to our partner countries.”

The representatives of the foundations continued, ”We jointly reject the one-sided and limited conclusions, which NGO Monitor draws in the above-mentioned report. We regard your conclusions as unfounded allegations resulting out of a biased, incomplete and scientifically flawed research.
We did ponder about clarifying the vast amount of shortcomings of your report through a close and collaborative interaction with your organization. “

Our scope of action will remain unaffected by your report. We certainly will continue to provide - with full integrity, legality and accountability - our value-based contributions to the German-Israeli relations, to the strengthening of pluralistic and democratic societies, and to the Middle East peace process towards a viable Two State Solution,” the representatives added.
Steinberg told The Post, “We urge the foundation heads to respond through dialogue and cooperation, in contrast to simplistic attacks and attempts to silence this long overdue debate.”

Israel’s Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on the NGO Monitor study. Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs has a copy of the study.
When asked about the role of the German foreign ministry’s alleged role in funding anti-Israel work in the Jewish state, according to the study, a spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry wrote The Post, “Germany’s foreign policy stands firmly on the side of Israel” and is in line with a “fair and just” two-state solution. 

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