Report finds Norwegian government funds organization supporting BDS campaigns
Protesters call for boycott of Israel [file]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Oslo responds that they don’t back NGOs whose “main goal is to promote the BDS campaign” and they oppose delegitimization of Israel.
The Norwegian government has been contributing to an organization that funds NGOs active in promoting anti-Israel boycotts, the watchdog organization NGO Monitor reported Monday.According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry website, NOK 5 million (over $600,000) was allocated to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat in the second half of 2016, half of which has already been paid.The organization gave $5.78 million to NGOs supporting the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) in the past four years, amounting to over half of its operating budget of $10.38 million.According to its own reporting, 80 percent of the Secretariat’s distributions are allocated to 24 core NGOs. NGO Monitor found that 13 of them support BDS. “The objectives stipulated in the Norwegian agreement – promoting gender equality, good governance and democratization – are entirely disconnected to the realities of the HR/IHL framework,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “None of these terms applies to the activities of BDS grantees, leaving major questions regarding the Norwegian government’s decision- making process and the requirement for due diligence.”Among the NGOs funded by the Secretariat is BADIL, which received $260,000 in 2015, and whose website states that the organization “has been fully committed to BDS campaigns from its very inception” and “rejects current proposed settlements such as the Roadmap for Peace and the Arab Peace Initiative.” BADIL also publishes posters calling for the elimination of Israel and cartoons featuring anti-Semitic imagery.Al-Haq received $710,000 from the Secretariat in 2015, and leads lawfare campaigns against Israel at the International Criminal Court, as well as BDS activities. Al Haq’s director, Shawan Jabarin, is a senior activist in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization.Another organization, Addameer, employs people with alleged connections to terrorist groups, including its chairperson and co-founder, Adul-latif Ghaith. Israel barred Ghaith from traveling internationally due to PFLP membership, and forbade him from entering the West Bank in 2011-2015.Addameer’s vice chairperson is a senior PFLP official indicted in Israel last year for active membership in a terrorist organization and calling to kidnap IDF soldiers. Yusef Habash, an Addameer board member, is a member of the BDS National Committee; Israel prevented him from leaving the West Bank in 2011-2012.Addameer received $230,000 from the Secretariat in 2015 and lobbies international organizations against Israel.The Norwegian Embassy in Israel took issue with NGO Monitor’s analysis of the organizations receiving financial support from Oslo.“We do not find their characterizations to be representative of the work that these organizations are doing. Norway does not tolerate hate speech, efforts to delegitimize Israel or anti-Semitism, and has close dialogue with all our partners to make sure this is understood,” the embassy spokesman told The Jerusalem Post in an email.“Norway does not provide financial support to organizations whose main goal is to promote the BDS campaign,” the spokesman added.The spokesman said Oslo’s contributions to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs are based on a goal of a two-state solution, and it chooses “well-known and respected” organizations on both sides.The Secretariat, managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm in Sweden, also enjoys contributions from Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands.In June, the Dutch government passed a resolution calling to review its funding to the Secretariat because of its support for BDS. In Switzerland, 41 members of parliament signed a motion questioning funding to the body.