Journalists Invited on Taxpayer-Funded ‘Terror Tour’ to the West Bank
by Rachel O'Donoghue
Journalists are once again being invited on a week-long junket to the West Bank next month — totally gratis — thanks to unwitting European taxpayers who are clearly viewed as nothing less than a bottomless pit of cash by their elected representatives.
The Office of the European Representative in Jerusalem issued the invitation, which is part of a series of visits aimed at showing media outlets how the European Union and its member states give “assistance to the Palestinian people.”
But if there were any illusions about how fair and balanced this trip will be, one needs to look no further than the written invite itself, which vets prospective attendees to ensure any subsequently published articles do not stray from the intended purpose of the trip.
In addition to the regular formalities like sending a resume and details of the organization they work for, journalists hoping to snag a place on the trip are also told they must submit a “one pager explaining why [they] want to participate and how [they] expect to use [their] press visit for publication purposes.”
HonestReporting has previously highlighted the existence of these pro-Palestinian propaganda tours, including one last year, in which a group of 11 journalists was taken to the offices of Qatari-owned Al Jazeera to discuss “challenges” faced by the press, as well as a visit to Palestinian NGO Al-Haq’s Ramallah headquarters.
We specifically questioned the appropriateness of the agenda, given how Al Jazeera has repeatedly printed anti-Israel libels, as well as the fact that Al-Haq has documented links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union itself.
And next month’s trip is even more troubling — not only because it comes amid heightened tensions, including a spate of deadly terror attacks against Israeli civilians, but also in the wake of a bombshell report by watchdog group NGO Monitor that lays bare the extensive links between the PFLP and Palestinian NGOs that the EU is funding.
Published earlier this month, “Clear and Convincing: The Links between the PFLP and the European Government-funded NGO Network,” reveals that the European Union is ignoring overwhelming evidence of terror links to numerous Palestinian organizations.
While the detailed agenda of the March trip is not yet available, consistent with previous trips, it will likely include meet-and-greets with at least one of these Palestinian NGOs.
Using exclusively open-source materials, NGO Monitor found overwhelming evidence of terror ties that should have been sufficient for the EU to permanently halt funding and partnerships with the Palestinian groups, including:
- The PFLP has issued statements of support for the designated NGOs, while other sources indicate the existence of organizational links between the designated entities and the terror group.
- Three NGO officials are standing trial for their alleged involvement in the deadly August 2019 bombing that killed Israeli teenager Rina Shnerb. The PFLP has claimed all of them as members.
- Major financial institutions, including Citibank, Arab Bank, American Express, Visa, and Mastercard, closed down online donations and accounts of NGOs in the face of the overwhelming evidence linking them to the PFLP.
The latest tranche of evidence demonstrating irrefutable ties between Palestinian NGOs and the PFLP heaps more pressure on the European Union to explain why it continues to hand over vast sums of money to the organizations, as well as invites European journalists to meet with their representatives.
According to NGO Monitor, the EU is breaking its own rules, which “make the participation of entities, individuals or groups affiliated, linked to or supporting terrorist organizations incompatible with any EU funding,” as confirmed in a 2020 letter to the watchdog group from the Office of the President of the European Commission.
Additionally, a letter from Josep Borrell, the Vice President of the European Commission, stated that guidelines for individual grant agreements dictate that “every beneficiary managing EU funds [must] refrain from engaging in incitement to violence or hatred. These rules make the participation of entities, individuals or groups affiliated, linked to or supporting terrorist organizations incompatible with any EU funding.”
Lastly, the European Parliament approved a budgetary document in May 2022 that required the European Commission to “thoroughly verify the use of Union funds by third entities, their affiliates, and/or natural persons to ensure that no funds are allocated or linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalization; make sure that individuals or groups affiliated, linked to or supporting terrorist organizations are excluded from Union funding; ensure that those Union funds are proactively recovered, and that the recipients involved are excluded from future Union funding.”
So, not only is the European Union lavishing cash for journalists to go on pro-Palestinian propaganda tours to the West Bank, but it is inviting said journalists to meet with terror-linked NGOs that the EU is also funding.