'Practice What You Preach,' Watchdog Tells EU
The European Union is riding a Trojan Horse in Israel by funding anti-Zionist groups while not disclosing its financial subsidies, NGO Monitor chairman Prof. Gerald Steinberg told a Knesset conference Wednesday.
Officials from Israeli NGOs, including B’Tselem, Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the pro-Arab Adalah group, were invited to speak at the event but declined to participate.
A graduate of Cornell University and now chairman of the Political Studies Department of Bar-Ilan University, Prof. Steinberg charged that "European governments have, for over a decade, been manipulating Israeli politics and promoting demonization by funding a narrow group of favored non-governmental organizations." He asked the Knesset to enact legislation to require full transparency, “a principle that European officials preach, but when it comes to Israel, do not practice."
Although the EU claims to fund projects and not organizations, "Project funding inevitably is used to promote the overall organization and its activities,” he said at the conference. “In several cases, EU funding comprises 50, 60, or even 75 percent of an NGO recipient’s entire budget.”
NGO Monitor reported that the European community funded 16 Israeli NGOs with more than $8 million since 2006, half of it going to B’Tselem and Yesh Din. “The EU claims to fund projects that advance human rights, peace, tolerance, and confidence building measures, but the activities of many NGO grantees are inconsistent with these goals,” according to NGO Monitor. It said that a grant was given to Conflicts Forum, “which encourages and engages in ‘encounters with political Islam - with both non-violent and armed resistance groups,’ including Hamas and Hizbullah.”
Concerning the transparency that NGO Monitor requested from the EU, Prof. Steinberg stated, “The EU provided NGO Monitor with a CD of about 50 documents, from which most of the relevant information was deleted, including the names of NGO partner organizations and the evaluation criteria. It was impossible to decipher the few fragments and numbers that remained.
"EU funding for projects [implicitly] supports the political activities and campaigns of the NGOs, including boycotts and the rejection of normalization," he concluded.