Guess who Europe’s subsidizing?
The European Union and its member countries have been subsidizing various opponents of Israel for many years. A study, just published by the Dutch Center for Documentation and Information on Israel contains perhaps the most detailed investigation of one such case. A group called United Civilians for Peace is a joint venture of five Dutch NGOs. Fifty to 90% of their budgets are funded by the Dutch government and the European Union. A sixth partner left UCP in view of its extreme anti-Israeli activities. UCP – among other things – publishes research about “Dutch economic links in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories.” Journalist Joost de Haas, writing in the Dutch Telegraaf summed up the 50-plus page report by the Dutch Center for Documentation saying: “A peace organization financed with taxpayers money is guided by the Palestinian terror organization Hamas and supports the Iranian atom bomb.” The EU and the Dutch government thus indirectly finance Dutch opponents of Israel. This story is the tip of a European iceberg of financial support for anti-Israeli bodies. NGO Monitor has exposed various state agencies which finance extreme anti-Israeli organizations. In an article in the Swiss daily Le Temps, Gerald Steinberg, who heads NGO Monitor cited examples of such support by the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation. A few months ago the Jewish Chronicle wrote that Israeli diplomats intended to raise claims with the Irish government that its Irish Aid Department was financing anti-Israeli NGOs some of which promote the demonization of Israel and boycott actions. The Swedish International Development Agency is also involved in financing extreme anti-Israeli groups. IN AN interview with Rijk van Dam, a former Dutch member of the European Parliament he told me that the government of Finland had contributed millions of Euros to pay for Palestinian textbooks which promote the hate of Israel. In 2004 Wall Street Journal op-ed writer Daniel Schwammenthal detailed how difficult it was to obtain information on the funding of the PLO by European governments. This, while the latter claimed their activities were transparent. Earlier this year the Israeli government criticized the British embassy in Tel Aviv for contributing funds to a study on the security barrier and its impact on the Palestinians. A Foreign Ministry source said: “It is interference by Britain in an internal Israeli matter. How would they react in London if our embassy was to fund a British research organization that is trying to promote an agenda critical [of their government]. This is not acceptable in international relations.” AND THEN there is the abuse by the Palestinian Authority of part of the many billions of Euros it gets in funding from the EU. Van Dam says: “There is no doubt that a substantial portion of European funding has served purposes such as corruption and terrorism.” He added that at a meeting in the European Parliament the then Palestinian finance minister [and now Prime Minister Salam Fayad] was asked how European money was spent. He replied that he did not know, not a penny was left, and it had all gone to the pockets of fat cats. Van Dam also explained how difficult it was to have an inquiry started into this abuse of European funding and how powerful sources in the EU tried to abort it. Ultimately its findings were not conclusive. The former Israeli ambassador at the EU, Efraim Halevy, told me a revealing story. The EU was paying the Palestinian Authority in a less than straightforward way and channeling part of their funds semi-legally. “Some money went directly into Yasser Arafat’s bank accounts. Once I was meeting the [then EU Commission vice president] Manuel Marin when he got a call from the German foreign minister who complained that $25 million, which Arafat got as ‘special emergency funding,’ had been transferred to the wrong account. It went into the general account and should have gone into his private one. “The commissioner asked the minister for a few minutes’ pause and then turned to me and politely asked me to excuse him because he had to attend to the matter at hand. I left, of course, but not before my host had unburdened himself and had expressed his exasperation at the way he was being forced to cooperate in these matters.” This is a very limited selection of facts concerning an issue of major importance. One can only wonder why the Israeli government does not systematically expose this European misbehavior. The writer is chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and has published four books on European attitudes toward Jews and Israel.