Netherlands encouraging Diaspora Jews to criticize Israel

Official Dutch foreign ministry document says one of government's goals is to 'encourage Diaspora Jews to voice opposition to occupation.'

Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA,

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok
REUTERS

An official Dutch foreign ministry document listed as an objective actions that “encourage diaspora Jewish communities to voice their opposition to the occupation.”

The statement, which is unusual for European governments offering funding for organizations they say are promoting peace of coexistence between Israel and Palestinian Authority residents, appeared in a report published earlier this year on Dutch funding for the Breaking the Silence group.

Separately, a Dutch pro-Israel group said that the previous Dutch envoy to Ramallah approved subsidies for an anti-Israel organization when his son was working there.

Titled “Activity Appraisal Document ODA below €250.000,” the report on Breaking the Silence included the reference to Diaspora communities under the rubric: “Goal 3: To increase opposition in the international arena to Israel’s prolonged occupation of the OPT based on global shared values.” OPT stands for “occupied Palestinian Territories.”

NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog group that focuses on funding for Israeli and Palestinian Authority groups, criticized the ministry’s “intruding on Israel-Diaspora relations, on one of the most sensitive issues,” as the group’s founder, Gerald Steinberg, termed it in a statement Tuesday.

The Dutch paper is the first time that NGO Monitor has seen an explicit reference to internal relations between Jewish communities on an official EU document, a spokesperson for the group said.

Chris Bakker, a spokesperson for Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands’ minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, declined to answer JTA’s questions on the document, including on whether the objectives it specified belonged to his office, or to Breaking the Silence.

Kaag’s ministry pledged $218,000 for Breaking the Silence in its budget for 2018. A former worker for the UNRWA agency for aid to Palestinians, Kaag is also the wife of a former Palestinian Authority diplomat.

Also on Tuesday, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, said on its website that is has information that Peter Mollema, the previous Representative for the Netherlands in the Palestinian Territories, approved subsidies for the Al-Mazen group in 2016, when his son was working there as an intern.

CIDI called this a “conflict of interest.”

Al-Mazen has called Israel’s policy “apartheid” and has accused it of “ethnic cleansing.” It has mounted multiple lawsuits against Israel and has been a supporter of the campaign to boycott it since 2006.

Bakker, the ministry spokesperson, did not immediately reply to JTA’s request for a comment on CIDI’s claims.




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