Watchdog: German Government Using Official Channels to Fund Anti-Israel, BDS Activity (INTERVIEW)
The German government is employing various official methods to support anti-Israel activity, the president of a major watchdog group told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Professor Gerald Steinberg, President of Israel-based NGO Monitor was referring to a new report his organization released on Sunday, revealing how Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) — “the primary German federal donor to civil society organizations and activities” — has directed significant funds towards Israeli NGOs that promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and advocate a “one-state” solution.
According to the NGO Monitor report, between 2012 and 2015 alone, €4 million ($4.4 million) of German taxpayer money was granted to 15 Israeli NGOs, with 42 percent of that funding going to anti-Israel groups. This sum does not include other grants and funding to local actors, such as Palestinian NGOs and other German and international groups, the report stated.
“There are many different German federal frameworks through which this BDS funding takes place, including the powerful political foundations, the Foreign Ministry and processes that give huge budgets to church ‘humanitarian aid’ groups,” Steinberg told The Algemeiner.
“Each framework appears to act independently, and in these cases, without much due diligence in terms of examining the recipient groups carefully. The Bundestag has not provided oversight or investigated this funding, which is also part of the problem,” he said.
Highlighted in the report are several “humanitarian” projects that are associated with notorious anti-Israel groups, such as Kairos Palestine, which “denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms,” supports BDS and has called Israel an apartheid regime; Al-Haq, whose general director is a senior activist for the EU-designated terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), which accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and the systematic murder of Palestinians.
Projects backed by church-aid organizations that receive funding from the BMZ have also been found to support anti-Israel groups and Palestinian organizations calling for the destruction of Israel. Israeli NGOs Zochrot, which calls for a “one-state framework,” and the Coalition of Women for Peace, a major supporter of the BDS movement, are just two of several recipients of German church-aid funding.
In response to NGO Monitor’s startling report, the German Embassy in Israel, as quoted by Israel Hayom, stated:
Germany remains committed to the two-state solution and devising sustainable peace in the Middle East. The German government opposes any boycott of Israel, including BDS activities, as such action undermines the peace process. The German government’s funding policy seeks to support selected projects via earmarked funds. Germany will continue to invest in projects and initiatives that can promote and increase awareness to the two-state solution.
Responding to the German Embassy’s statement, Steinberg told The Algemeiner, “Unfortunately, this was a standard response that entirely avoided the substance, both in terms of the specific groups, and with respect to their activities that demonize Israel.”
“The problems begin in Berlin and the Embassy may not even be consulted, but this is part of the problem,” he said. “We strongly urge the German government and the Bundestag to take these issues seriously and provide a substantive response.”