More and more, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become one of the most powerful – and controversial – pressure blocs in the global arena. In recent weeks, Israel’s parliament established a commission of inquiry into NGO funding from Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Algeria. Well-heeled NGO advocates have criticized the investigation for being heavy-handed, but in fact, an accurate understanding of the finances behind NGOs is desperately needed. Not only are these groups bankrolled by Israel’s enemies, but the funds are used for the express purpose of conducting “soft” warfare against the country from within. This nexus must be exposed.
According to Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident who was pivotal in the creation of the famous NGO Human Rights Watch, many of these organizations are currently being used by dictatorships to fight democracies. NGOs have become crucial in biased reports against Israel submitted at the United Nations, like the Goldstone Report on the Gaza War. Their “humanitarian” lamentations are often generously funded by the European Union, which supports many anti-Israel enterprises.
NGOs fueled the legal battle to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which the former president of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, has shamefully called “the Gulag of our time.” The power of NGOs was discussed also in recently released WikiLeaks cables, with the revelation that Muslim “charities” are still playing a decisive role in financing terrorism.
Last year, a Turkish NGO called Insane Yardim Vakfi (IHH) sparked an unprecedented crisis in relations between Israel and Turkey. These organizations are also playing a role in the ongoing legal indictments against Israeli politicians and the country’s military. Israel has canceled “strategic dialogue” with London to protest a British law that allows judges to arrest members of the Israeli government for alleged “war crimes” if they set foot in the UK. Many Israelis cancelled UK trips out of fear of being arrested.
NGOs are promoting campaigns for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the Jewish State. Some openly advocate “the abolition of Israel through the creation of a single state” in Palestine. The “soft war” against the Jews was born at the Durban UN Conference in 2001, at which 3,000 NGOs convinced the UN to condemn Israeli “racism.” Well-known NGOs such as Amnesty International and Save the Children attached their names to the conference. Israel was declared an “apartheid” and “criminal” state, and the Jews, inveterate racists.
NGOs at the conference supported the request of the Tanzanian minister of foreign affairs, Jakaya Kikwete, for immediate cash compensation to Africa for Western slavery. This fabricated colonial sense of guilt has become jet fuel for the humanitarian agenda. Encouraged by these NGOs, the genocidal Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe proclaimed that the Jews were responsible for all the ills of Africa. Some NGOs distributed leaflets with a portrait of Hitler and the inscription: “What if Hitler had won? There would be no Israel, and no Palestinian bloodshed.”
The mass of NGOs in the streets at the conference exalted Osama bin Laden, while the images of George Bush and Ariel Sharon were ornamented with swastikas and motifs of blood and death. Sadly, these NGOs will soon have another opportunity to showcase their Jew-hatred: the United Nations will celebrate “Durban III” in New York, just a few days after the tenth anniversary of the 9⁄11 atrocities.
Human Rights Watch used to be one of the most respectable NGOs. But the credibility of the organization, increasingly affluent after receiving million-dollar donations from the radical philantropist George Soros, has faded after controversy erupted over a talk by the NGO’s spokesperson, Sarah Leah Whitson, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ms. Whitson was not there to protest religious persecution or the brutal anti-Semitism of the Saudi clergy. Rather, Human Rights Watch was there to collect Saudi donations because, as Whitson later explained, her group must balance the power of “pro-Israel pressure groups in the United States.”
Then came the affair of Marc Garlasco, the military organization expert for Human Rights Watch who enjoyed collecting Hitler memorabilia. Meanwhile, Amnesty International in its fifty years of activities has collected numerous humanitarian awards (including a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977), but it has also had many indictments – including for ignoring Pol Pot’s killing fields and the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in captivity by Hamas since 2006.
Amnesty International used Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo prisoner and supporter of the Taliban and al Qaeda, to testify for them. The NGO even led Begg to Downing Street, the residence of British prime minister, to support the closure of the US detention camp for al Qaeda terrorists. The Italian secretary-general of Amnesty International Claudio Cordone, defended the organization by saying that the “defensive jihad” is not “diametrically opposed” to human rights. Recently, another Amnesty International official, Frank Johansson of Finland, called Israel “a scum state.”
We are still waiting for the moment when these NGOs will ride on Israeli buses to experience the truly unprovoked, homicidal nature of terrorist attacks. Perhaps, instead, they will demonstrate in the streets of Haifa and Sderot, destroyed by their allies’ Katyushas missiles and Qassams rockets.
Make no mistake, the NGO industry has betrayed the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s become an accomplice to evil. The new humanitarian industry is rooted in the equality of humankind to the exclusion of the Jew. This is why Western countries should reject Durban III.
_Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist, is the author of the book “A New Shoah” (Encounter).