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April 8, 2016 9:27 am

Watchdog: UN Humanitarian Agency Operating in Israel Aids NGOs to Demonize, Delegitimize Jewish State

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A new report by watchdog group NGO Monitor reveals UN activity in supporting anti-Israel NGOs. Photo: NGO Monitor.

A new report by watchdog group NGO Monitor reveals UN activity in supporting anti-Israel NGOs. Photo: NGO Monitor.

A UN humanitarian agency operating inside Israel “is responsible for coordinating a highly political and biased NGO network in the West Bank,” a watchdog group revealed on Thursday.  

According to a newly released report by NGO Monitor, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-oPt) has been working with and facilitating funding to NGOs involved in “political warfare against Israel, including those advancing anti-peace BDS,” and some that “even engage in blatantly antisemitic activities.”

“Coordinating with some of the most virulent NGOs in the region, OCHA promotes a one-sided narrative of Palestinian victimization and sole Israeli aggression,” NGO Monitor legal adviser Anne Herzberg said in a statement. “OCHA’s central role in anti-Israel political warfare is yet another example of the exploitation of human rights, international law, and humanitarian principles via UN bodies to attack the Jewish state.”

According to the report, OCHA-oPt receives most of its funding from donor states and the European Commission. Based on the most current information publicly available, the OCHA-oPt had an operating budget of $4.9 million in 2013 from donors including the EU, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden. In 2016, the OCHA-oPt requested $571 million in funding from its international supporters. 

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NGOs that received funding from OCHA-oPt, noted the report, include Islamic Relief Worldwide — a group outlawed by Israel for “its alleged role in funneling money to Hamas;” pro-BDS group Ma’an Development Center; and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, “a leader of anti-Israel ‘lawfare’ campaigns used to demonize Israel and harass Israeli officials.”

In addition, the OCHA-oPt organizes what NGO Monitor characterized as “‘Thematic Clusters.” These clusters are “for biased, political, radical NGOs to manipulate and circulate unconfirmed, false, and distorted statistics to the UN and media.” One example pointed out in the report is that the OCHA-oPt designated the anti-Israel Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al-Mezan and B’Tselem organizations under a “Protection Cluster” to “provide ‘data’ regarding casualty statistics” during the 2014 Gaza war.  

The report noted, “These NGOs, which lack credible methodologies for analysis of casualty claims, appear to have been repeating information originating with Hamas officials in Gaza.” The result of such actions is the publication of “numerous reports, factsheets, and informational databases, parroting the false and distorted claims…provided by the PLO and Hamas” by journalists, diplomats and official UN reports. The 2009 “Goldstone- 2 Politicized Activities and Funding in the Arab-Israeli Conflict” and the “Commission of the Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza War” reports are two examples cited of reports greatly influenced by OCHA-oPt’s “Thematic Clusters” and “provide fuel in the ongoing international delegitimization campaign against Israel.”

Further, OCHA-oPt bias is amplified even more, according to NGO Monitor, by the fact that “OCHA rarely, if ever, cites relevant Israeli government information, including detailed statistics published by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israel Defense Forces, or the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

The report also claimed that the UN agency’s politicization and prejudice is not only directed at Israel, pointing to the publication by OCHA, on December 29, 2015, of a “2016 Syrian Arab Republic Response Plan,” in which it “altered dozens of passages and omitted pertinent information to paint the government of Bashar al-Assad in a more favorable light.”

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