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EU funding in Israel: Myths and reality

Yesterday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved two bill proposals aimed at limiting the ability of the UN and foreign governments to financially support human rights organizations in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported the bills, as did many other senior ministers. Later, they claimed that foreign governments, mostly from the EU, interfere with local politics through their support of human rights NGOs.

This is a very lame excuse for the kind of political persecution the Israeli government has decided to engage in. First, seeing the Occupation or the siege on Gaza as an internal Israeli issue is debatable; second, Israel itself invests millions in advocacy and political campaigning abroad; and third, human rights work is not exactly party politics.

Still, in case someone does believe that there is a European conspiracy against Israeli democracy, carried out through large investments in subversive groups, I suggest taking a look it this table, detailing Europe’s support to Israeli organizations in 2010. To sum it up, out of a total of 158 million Euros, a couple of million went to human rights NGOs (the first 7 items). I am not 100 percent sure that these are the complete figures – there might have been more funds which are listed elsewhere, though I was told that there aren’t (See update) – still, it gives a sense of where most of the money goes, and it’s not to the human rights organizations.

UPDATE: As I suspected, This table is missing some articles (example here). I still think the overall picture is not very different – most foreign money goes into civil society projects which have no political angle to them, or to academia – but I should have done a better job collecting the data, and not posted this partial information. I will leave this post up, because as a policy I don’t cover-up mistakes, but I don’t think it should serve as a resource.

[scribd id=”72659044″ key=”key-hnyv9owmriagvslxycl” height=”650″ width=”615″]

Sources:

http://ec.europa.eu/delegations/israel/projects/list_of_projects/projects_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/delegations/israel/documents/projects/eu_partnership_for_peace_programme_en.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/pdf/country/2011_enpi_nip_israel_en.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/neighbourhood/country-cooperation/israel/israel_en.htm

http://www.iserd.org.il/

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    1. […] בעיקר לתרומות שמגיעות מהאיחוד האירופי. אפשר לראות כאן רשימה לא מלאה של התרומות. על פי הרשימה הזו, מתוך כ-158 מיליוני יורו […]

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    2. Piotr Berman

      Ha’aretz reported much larger totals for top NGOs, in part because the donors include separate governments within EU, like UK, Spain and Denmark, and non-EU countries like Norway, Switzerland, USA and Canada.

      But it is also quite possible that the totals in Ha’aretz include private donations. Some donors that were mentioned like church run charities or union run charities are not controlled by states. Nevertheless, NGO support is a small part of overall contributions of foreign countries, most goes to universities, hospitals etc.

      The list of donors tells at least two things. Human rights are not a “leftist cause” outside Israel, governments of UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland or Germany are not “leftist”. Basically, donors include ALL reliable allies of Israel (note USA and Canada, plus the most reliable pro-Israel governments within EU like the Netherlands and Germany). Belorus is fighting with NGOs using similar methods, but at least one cannot easily claim that say, the Netherlands are an ally of Belorus.

      The second aspect is that since the donors tend to be allies opposed to sanctions against Israel or even pro-Palestinian diplomatic initiatives, the real life importance of the NGOs that are their beneficiaries is very small. Reports are compiled, printed and shelved, and the life goes on. Human rights have their own bureaucracy which is wholly separate from, say, economic/financial bureaucracy and have scant impact on foreign policy. UNLESS you draw a lot of attention to them, and this is what governments of Israel and Belorus are doing right now.

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