JNS: How is the EU funding NGOs with ties to BDS?

(February 8, 2019 / JNS) Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs came out with a scathing report last month—its second on the issue—accusing the European Union of funding Palestinian and European organizations that promote BDS, the boycott of Israel.

In early February, the ministry released another report highlighting NGO ties to terrorism, demonstrating the seriousness with which the ministry is seeking to crack down on a trend of NGOs allegedly masking illegitimate or illegal activities.

The 34-page January 2019 report detailed the personnel and activities of 10 BDS-affiliated organizations that collectively received about 5 million euros from the EU in some form in the last year. Some leaders were demonstrated to have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP), an EU-designated terrorist organization. Two of the most prominent groups, Al-Haq and Al-Mezan, were awarded a multi-year grant of more than 750,000 euros.

“The time has come for the EU to begin a deep re-examination of its policies,” stated Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. “Instead of hiding behind empty statements, the European Union needs to implement its own declared policy and immediately cease funding organizations that promote boycotts against the State of Israel.”

In response to the report, European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor called on the EU to end funding to organizations that back BDS.

“EU funding must only contribute to peace and not to organizations calling for boycotts against Israel, which stand in opposition to European principles,” he stated. “Many of these organizations hurt Israel, hurt the Palestinians and hurt the cause of peace, and should not be provided with European taxpayers’ money.”

Maja Kocijančič, spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has denied the report’s allegations.

“This is not the first time that such allegations are made by Israeli entities against the EU and its support to NGOs,” she relayed to JNS via e-mail. “Allegations of the EU supporting incitement, terror, antisemitism or BDS actions are unfounded and unacceptable. The EU has not changed its position regarding the ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ [BDS] movement. The EU rejects any attempt to isolate Israel and does not support calls for boycott, nor fund actions that are related to boycott activities.

“Simply because an organization or individual is related to the BDS movement does not mean that this entity is involved in incitement to commit illegal acts, nor that it renders itself ineligible for EU funding,” she continued. “The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and association.”

She added that “all EU engagement with the parties of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on the ground serves the key EU policy objective of a peaceful solution by advancing and ultimately achieving a viable two-state solution.

And finally, noted Kocijančič, “we take any allegation of misuse of EU funds very seriously and are committed to investigate all those presented with substantive evidence.”

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