Sunday, April 4, 2010

NGO Monitor: Sweden funds radical Palestinian groups.

NGO Monitor is an organization which watches over the various NGO's that functions in the Arab-Israel conflict. On March 25 the organization published a report which looked into the various Scandinavian countries such as Sweden s that every year, through a variety of non-governmental organizations contributes huge amounts of funding to some of the most radical groups operating in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The report also investigates the "anti-Israel advocacy and demonization campaigns in which these NGOs engage – often in direct contradiction to the humanitarian, peace, and human-rights agendas they claim to espouse."

Below are some extracts from the findings made by NGO monitor that concerned Sweden and Swedish NGOs.

Extracts from NGO Monitor's report:

The Swedish governmental agency "Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency" (SIDA) has been providing substantial aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since 2000. In 2008, these areas received SEK 455 million (~$59 million, over 70% of the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] budget). In 2007, they were the 7th highest recipient of SIDA funding in the world (out of SEK 15.4 billion worldwide; complete figures for 2008 are not yet available).

Through this funding, SIDA claims “to promote democracy and respect for human rights, especially in terms of equality,” and to “create opportunities for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and contribute to a democratic Palestinian state governed by law.” Sweden also provides “expert assistance to help strengthen the PLO’s negotiating structures to enable it to be an equal partner in the peace negotiations with Israel,” clearly taking the Palestinian position in the process.

The Swedish government uses three funding mechanisms:

1. Grants channeled through Swedish NGOs
2.  a multi-national framework, the NGO Development Center (NDC), which includes money from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands;
3. Direct funding to “organizations in partner countries.”

Overlap between these schemes is not uncommon suggesting a lack of responsible oversight by the Swedish government. Additionally, while SIDA maintains a database on the indirect support through Swedish groups, the NDC project and direct grants to local NGOs are not included. Due to this limited transparency, the information available to members of parliament, policy makers, and others, as well as the listings below, may not be comprehensive.

Grants channeled through Swedish NGOs:

“Most of the [SIDA] support to the MENA region” is channeled through 14 Swedish “framework organizations,” including;

* Diakonia -Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law project which according to NGO Monitor promotes Palestinian political goals through a distorted and misleading interpretation of international law.

* the Swedish Mission Council (SMR) which uses loaded language to delegitimize Israel and perpetuate distrust.

* the Olof Palme International Center (OPC)- The Palme Center falsely accuses Israel of “provok[ing] the al-Aqsa rising and the ‘Second Intifada,’” and “disproportionate violence against civilians, unlawful executions and torture.” The fighting in Gaza is also blamed on “the provocative Israeli occupation.”

* and Save the Children Sweden (Radda Barnen).

These groups are responsible for transferring SIDA funds to local NGOs and overseeing project implementation.

Additionally, the framework organizations provide the information contained in the SIDA database, but the material is often inconsistent or missing. For instance, the “local implementing organisation(s)” is sometimes listed anonymously as “local NGO.”

In 2008 and 2009, many NGOs received funds from different frameworks within the Swedish government. For politicized NGOs that contravene the claimed Swedish goals of “creat[ing] opportunities for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” this raises questions of government oversight in funding processes. For genuine humanitarian projects, this phenomenon increases the bureaucratic overhead and waste that does not reach the organizations and suffering people who need the aid. Efficiency, accountability and transparency should be required of all publically-funded NGOs.

Concluding Remarks:

On July 1, 2009 Sweden assumed the presidency of the European Union. As the NGO Monitor report indicates, Sweden’s role in funding numerous highly politicized NGOs fuels the conflict, rather than advancing the stated goals of promoting peace, democracy and development

As NGO Monitor’s analysis reveals, the Swedish government funds NGOs that pursue Palestinian political goals under the guise of “human rights” and “international law,” and demonize Israel with the inflammatory rhetoric of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “massacres.” In addition to compounding Israeli mistrust of the role of the EU, which stems in part from support for NGOs that exclusively promote a Palestinian agenda and engage in biased anti-Israel activities, the delegitimization of Israel contradicts Sweden’s stated goals for the region. In order to play a positive role as a European leader in assisting the constructive change necessary to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, Sweden’s NGO funding practices and priorities will need to change.

Source: NGO Monitor

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