Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Report: U.S. Government Funding for Mideast Political NGOs Undermines U.S. Policy

May 20, 2013 
Lenny Ben-David
NGO Monitor

Report: U.S. Government Funding for Mideast Political NGOs Undermines U.S. Policy

Jerusalem - A report presented to Members of Congress today by NGO Monitor shows that U.S. Government funding of several political NGOs in the Palestinian Authority and Israel contradicts U.S. policy, has a negative impact on the peace process, and lacks the independent oversight necessary to prevent abuses.

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute, is meeting this week with Members of Congress, congressional staff, Washington think tanks, journalists and foreign policy decision-molders.

The 13-page report, The Negative Impact of U.S. Government Funding for Mideast Political NGOs, is written by Steinberg and Naftali Balanson, NGO Monitor Managing Editor. The 38-page appendicesinclude a directory of the political NGOs involved and correspondence with U.S. government agencies and officials.

"Some of the NGO grantees conduct activities that sharply contradict program objectives and policies," Steinberg explained. "The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), for instance, funded by the U.S. Government, in turn funds political advocacy NGOs that demonize Israel and promote BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns targeting Israel. This activity is entirely inconsistent with U.S. policy."

One such organization is MIFTAH ($178,740 in 2007-2012), a Palestinian NGO involved in anti-Israel campaigns and antisemitism, including repetition of the infamous blood libel and allegations of "the slaughter of Palestinian children."

Another group, "Windows," received $750,000 in a three-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It is described by the Agency as "a tool for Israeli and Palestinian participants to learn about each other." Windows' Youth Media Program adopts a Palestinian narrative of the conflict including highly offensive comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany.

"Obviously, USAID and NED do not endorse such views," Steinberg said, "but the funding is indicative of the lack of supervision and transparency in such grants. Self-reporting, without independent evaluation on such complex issues, violates the principles of good governance."

NGO Monitor urges U.S. officials to conduct detailed, professional and independent evaluations of NGO activity before grant allocation, during implementation, and at the conclusion of the grant cycle.

NGO Monitor notes that U.S. officials have taken important steps to increase transparency and accountability. NGO Monitor recently received an assurance from U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, "We have put in place greater policy oversight of grant-making decisions over the past few years."

NGO Monitor (www.ngo-monitor.org), based in Jerusalem, provides information and analysis, promotes accountability, and supports discussion on the activities of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) involved in Middle East politics and human rights affairs.
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