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‘Only terrorists need apply’ for Palestinian NGOs

It is both damning and revealing that many Palestinian civil-society organizations either have links to, or vocally support, those whose stated aim is the destruction of world’s sole Jewish state.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Credit: JCPA.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Credit: JCPA.
Sean Durns
Sean Durns
Sean Durns is a senior research analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

Are you in the market for a new job? Interested in working for a nonprofit organization and giving back to your community? If you’re living in areas ruled by the Palestinian Authority, there’s just one catch: You can’t oppose terrorism.

The P.A., which rules over the majority of Palestinians, has prohibited all Palestinian NGOs from cooperating with foreign funders who want to put anti-terror clauses in their funding. And, as the blogger Elder of Ziyon has documented, “if any Palestinian NGO signs a clause” saying “that they will not hire or fund terrorists, they will be prosecuted under Palestinian law.” In an Oct. 13 blog, the blogger highlights a story that many missed.

The head of the P.A.’s Civil Society Organizations Commission, Maj. Gen. Sultan Abu Al-Enein, warned NGOs not to accept funding that was conditional on their forswearing terrorism. As Palestine Today reported:

“Abu Al-Enein said that there are intense contacts that some countries or international institutions are making, through civil work, to sign documents that harm the fundamentals of our Palestinian people, in return for financing their programs and societal and cultural activities.

He said that the acceptance by some civil institutions of this conditional funding would be a blow to the steadfastness positions announced by the Palestinian leadership at the level of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the national and Islamic action factions.”

Al-Enein warned that organizations who accept the conditional funding would be guilty of “national betrayal and a departure from the national ranks, and will not pass without punishment.” Authorities “will work to prosecute these institutions … and expose those in charge of them in front of the Palestinian public.” These threats—Palestinian leaders have a history of persecuting those who support “normalization” instead of violence and these threats illustrate a growing concern on the P.A.’s part.

And the P.A. has reason to be worried. Some Palestinian NGOs have links to terrorist organizations—a fact that several European donors are finally seeking to address.

Many of these “nonprofits” have been exposed by NGO Monitor, an organization that researches NGOs operating in the realm of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Several have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation for Palestine (PFLP), which is designated as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, Canada and Israel. One infamous example, highlighted by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) and others, is the Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P).

As NGO Monitor has documented, the president of DCI-P’s General Assembly, Nasser Ibrahim, is the former editor of El Hadaf, the PFLP’s weekly publication. DCI-P board members and employees, past and present, include no fewer than 10 individuals with links to the PFLP. For example, the secretary of DCI-P’s board, Fatima Daana, is the widow of the commander of PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades. One DCI-P employee, Hashem Abu Maria, was celebrated by the PFLP as a “commander” of the terrorist group after his 2014 death.

DCI-P’s questionable links haven’t prevented the group from being uncritically cited by some major news outlets. Indeed, per a leaked version of their itinerary, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) intended to meet with DCI-P officials in their summer 2019 trip to Israel, which was subsequently canceled. Regrettably, DCI-P has even made it to the Hill itself. Despite the links to the PFLP, the group has been cited favorably as a source in legislation sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.).

Indeed, as further evidence of how pervasive the problem is that planned trip to Israel, which was labeled as “Palestine” in the itinerary, was sponsored by Miftah, a Palestinian nonprofit organization that has praised suicide bombers and published op-eds claiming that Jews consume Christian blood.

As CAMERA noted at the time, amid all the news coverage of Omar’s and Tlaib’s planned trip, Miftah’s troubling history was often overlooked. Worse still, Miftah’s founder, Hanan Ashrawi, a former P.A. Minister of Higher Education, has continued to appear as a talking head on major news networks.

Several countries and entities contribute to Palestinian NGOs in hopes of advancing peace. But it is clear that many of these organizations are doing the precise opposite. Yet there are signs that some foreign donors are waking up.

In July 2020, for example, the Dutch government halted $9.4 million in funding to the Union of Agricultural Work Committee (UAWC), which a USAID audit has described as the “agricultural arm” of the PFLP. Recent years have also seen Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and others cut funds to NGOs that are involved in “racist, anti-Semitic or hate incitement actions,” as the Swiss Parliament noted in March 2017.

It is both damning and revealing that many Palestinian civil-society organizations have links to, or vocally support, those whose stated aim is the destruction of the world’s sole Jewish state. The P.A., however, clearly wants it this way. And until there is a reckoning with the P.A. and its own objectives, its hate for Israel will remain endemic and widely broadcast. Indeed, in some cases, it might even be tax-deductible. 

Sean Durns is a senior research analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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