On Wednesday, the Swiss Parliament took a positive step in the fight against BDS when it passed a motion calling on the government to "amend the laws, ordinances and regulations so that Switzerland can no longer subsidize, even indirectly, development cooperation projects carried out by NGOs involved in racist, anti-Semitic or hate incitement actions, or in BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns."
NGO Monitor, which monitors radical anti-Israel NGOs claiming to stand for human rights, praised the move. Olga Deutsch, Director of NGO Monitor's Europe Desk said, "Today's positive developments in Switzerland are an important precedent in seriously countering BDS campaigns, anti-Semitism, and hatred. NGO Monitor was instrumental in providing details on the Swiss government's funding of organizations that propagate anti-peace, anti-normalization, BDS, and one-state policies.
This vote, and similar parliamentary initiatives in Europe demonstrate the importance of cooperation and dialogue on the NGO and BDS funding issue. Knesset members should work alongside their European counterparts on guidelines and evaluation mechanisms that contribute to positive change in addressing this serious issue."
As a research institute that deals with government funding to NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict, NGO Monitor provided detailed and fully referenced information to Swiss decision makers and media throughout the past year, leading to Wednesday's motion.
In particular, the parliamentary vote focused on Swiss government funding to NGOs directly through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm in Sweden). This framework provides core-funding to organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
From 2013-2016, the IHL Secretariat provided a total of 2.38 million USD to organizations directly affiliated with the PFLP, while the Swiss government's contribution amounted to approximately one-quarter of the total Secretariat budget. The IHL Secretariat distributes 56% of its budget to NGOs that advocate for BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.
The Swiss motion also stated that, "By incitement to hatred, we mean, for example, campaigns carried out by NGOs that may be considered as provocations by opposing groups or sovereign states. Under the term BDS campaigns, we include the notions of boycott, withdrawal of capital, or sanctions against opposing groups or sovereign states."