Addressing Israel’s parliament in March, David Cameron assured his audience that he would be working with the Israelis to help defeat the ongoing delegitimisation of their country. How to square that pledge with the fact that the British government is annually directing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to rogue NGOs dedicated to damaging the Jewish state?
This is the unhappy reality exposed by the organisation NGO Monitor in a recent report documenting how anti-Israel groups are being funded through programmes overseen by the Department for International Development (DfID). The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence provide further funds for these same programmes. And on top of this, the European Union subsidises these activist NGOs too, meaning that in effect the British public is being made to pay for them at least twice over.
Many of them are focused on highly political rather than humanitarian activities. One particularly dubious organisation, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), reportedly devotes itself not to helping refugees but rather to pursuing a strategy of sabotage against the Israeli judicial system. NGO Monitor reveals how in recent years NRC has financed at least 677 legal cases in Israeli courts, then appealing against many of the rulings with the intention of creating a “blockage” in the system.
More astonishingly still, not only had Palestinian NGOs pursued cases in Canadian courts against companies involved in Israeli construction work, but when these cases were thrown out of court for absence of evidence, the NRC proceeded to pursue Canada at the United Nations. Making use of some £6 million provided by DfID for legal purposes, the NRC hauled Canada before the UN human rights committee, alleging that there is a “structural and systemic problem in the Canadian judicial system”.
One of the most disconcerting aspects of British funding for these radical NGOs is the complete lack of transparency surrounding it. Online information provided by DfID is limited and sometimes does not correlate with the information the recipient NGOs provide about their finances. People contacting the British consulate in Jerusalem inquiring about the financial assistance it provides for local groups complain of emails not being answered.
While the British government wrestles with difficult decisions about funding for frontline services and such basics as national defence, it appears that money can always be found to fund extremist Palestinian organisations which do less than nothing to advance reconciliation with Israel.