Want to Know Who Funded the Artist That Defecated on the Israeli Flag? Ask European Governments, Says Israeli Watchdog
Back in April, Israelis were horrified by the sight of a young performance artist named Natalie Cohen-Waxberg who turned up at Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, wearing a fake crown and intensely-applied red lipstick, and claiming to personify the “Holocaust.” For several minutes, Cohen-Waxberg screeched insults such as “Who provided the IDF its human resources straight from the oven?” and “I am the best thing that ever happened to the Jews!” at visitors to the memorial.
By November, that horror had turned to sheer nausea, when Cohen-Waxberg released a video of herself defecating on the Israeli flag – an artistic effort that this time landed her in court on charges of “desecrating a national symbol.”
But most shocking of all is the revelation that Cohen-Waxberg’s activities have been funded, in part, by foreign governments and agencies.
In her Holocaust video, Cohen-Waxberg is flanked by an actor playing the part of her bodyguard. In real life, the “actor” is Eitan Bronstein, the founder of Zochrot, a radical Israeli NGO which unconditionally promotes the notion that the creation of Israel was, for the Palestinians, a “Naqba” – Arabic for “catastrophe.”
As Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor has noted, in 2013, Zochrot, which vocally supports the BDS campaign against Israel, received a staggering $500,000 in grants from foreign donors, many of them church organizations who receive taxpayer funds from their national governments. Among the groups’ financiers are Oxfam in the UK, Trocaire in Ireland, the church-based ICCO from The Netherlands and Germany’s Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
In an article for the latest edition of The Middle East Quarterly, NGO Monitor president Professor Gerald Steinberg warned that the infusion of funds is enabling Zochrot to expand its activities, which include iNakba – described as “a new mobile app to help locate Palestinian villages destroyed since 1948” that was warmly praised by New York Times Israel correspondent Jodi Rudoren and other journalists – and such initiatives as its September 2013 conference in the heart of Tel Aviv promoting the Palestinian “right of return.”
“Most of this European public (taxpayer-based) funding is channeled through humanitarian aid agencies, which in turn redistribute the money to individual NGOs, including Zochrot,” Steinberg wrote. “This pattern of funding also reflects the central role of both Catholic and Protestant aid frameworks in promoting radical political agendas, in many cases mixed with classic anti-Semitic themes.”
“There is a direct and causal connection between increased funding for political advocacy NGOs, mainstream media visibility, and support for the distorted Palestinian narrative,” Steinberg concluded. “As a result of an increase in funds, Zochrot was able to go from a fringe group with virtually no impact to a major player, influencing others with its ideological and political perspective.”