The European Union (EU) is paying nearly half a million euros to the leftist "Morashtenu" organization, in a campaign aiming to convince Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel to support the creation of a Palestinian state, Israel Hayom reported.
The EU grant, totaling 498,461 euro, or $550,261, is being distributed over the the course of three years, from April 2018 to April 2021. According to the grant documents, the purpose of the funding is to "advance the conditions for an agreed-upon resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and bring about possible change in the opinions of the Russian-speaking community" by "building trust in the two-state solution in a population which traditionally has rejected it."
The project also aims to "take apart" Russian immigrants' "negative perspective towards the Palestinian narrative."
In addition to their funding from the EU, in 2018 Morashtenu received 49,483 NIS ($14,356) from the US Embassy.
Israel Hayom noted that Morashtenu's address is the same as that of the Geneva Initiative, an organization which acts in similar fashion to Morashtenu to change Israelis' opinions on the "Palestinian" issue. Members of the committee include former Meretz MK Mossi Raz, and a former Meretz candidate.
The EU told Israel Hayom: "A civil society which is open and thriving has always been the basis for shared democratic values on which the relationship between Israel and the EU is based. The EU supports plans within the framework of creating peace, which advance peace and the two-state solution. The EU does not directly or indirectly fund actions which are for or against political parties. Non-governmental organizations in Israel receive funding from the EU according to prioritization of our plans, and not based on their political beliefs."
Morashtenu told Israel Hayom: "Advancing a solution is at the top of the State of Israel's priority list. Today, when [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and [Blue and White Chairman MK Benny] Gantz are on a diplomatic trip to the US to learn about the diplomatic solution offered by the US President, we cannot claim that it is wrong for a foreign diplomatic body to interfere in what happens in Israel. It is unnecessary to state that Morashtenu does not involve itself in political party activities."
Morashtenu is a leftist Israeli organization whose target audience are Russian immigrants. The organization's site states that "a distinguishing feature" of the Russian community is "predomination of right-wing attitudes towards almost all topics of political and social life in Israel...exhibited both through the voting patterns in the Knesset elections of the last decade and through responses to the campaigns of social protest."
One of its goals is to provide: "detailed and profound explanation of the background and actual status of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Russian-speaking public with the aim to promote change in public opinion regarding the peace process and to increase support for the peaceful settlement of the conflict."
On the other hand, Morashtenu claims to "stand for the values of democracy, human dignity, tolerance and multiculturalism" and "strive for strong civil society in Israel possessing all necessary means and resources including human resources, which embraces all Israeli residents and acts for the sake of the country."