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The Europeans play a double game with their support for terror-connected NGOs

The relationship between European governments and Palestinian NGOs with ties to the PFLP is so strong that the money keeps flowing no matter what.

Fighters of the PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades standing at the entrance of Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip's building. Credit: Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip.
Fighters of the PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades standing at the entrance of Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip's building. Credit: Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip.
Liora Henig-Cohen

The Europeans are still playing a double game against Israel. Last week, nine European governments issued a joint statement on six Palestinian NGOs Israel designated as terrorist groups in 2021. The governments said they have seen “no substantial evidence” to support Israel’s allegations and will “continue to cooperate with and support” these groups.

According to Israel, these supposed human rights organizations are, in fact, an arm of the terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Senior officials in these NGOs were involved in the 2019 murder of Israeli teenager Rina Shnerb, as well as fundraising for the terrorist organization. Nonetheless, the foreign ministries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden have now made it clear that, from their perspective, there is nothing to prevent the NGOs in question from receiving European money.

Without getting into the question of what would constitute the “substantial evidence” they seek, European governments should have stopped funding these NGOs long before Israel’s 2021 terror designation. There was already considerable evidence beforehand that these organizations and their employees have ties to the PFLP. For example, PFLP conferences were attended by the directors of these NGOs, who also hired members of the terrorist organization—some of whom had already served time in Israeli prisons. Following Rina Shnerb’s murder, the Dutch government itself published an independent report pointing to ties between one of the organizations it funds and the PFLP. This alone should have prompted any reasonable government to examine how their money was being used.

Meanwhile, in addition to their connections to terrorism, these NGOs are at the forefront of a campaign to delegitimize Israel’s existence. They spearhead boycott and disinvestment campaigns, propagate the apartheid lie, target Israel in the International Criminal Court at The Hague and accuse the IDF of war crimes and the killing and abuse of Palestinian children.

Three of these NGOs recently submitted a document to the United Nations committee investigating last year’s “Operation Guardian of the Walls.” According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, the document is clearly anti-Semitic: It equates Zionism to racism and even Nazism; claims the Zionist movement and its institutions imposed a “regime of colonialist settlement and apartheid on the Palestinian people”; says Israel must revoke its laws of return, citizenship and nationality; and essentially concludes that Israel has no right to exist.

The European Union and Western countries have been the primary lifeline for many Palestinian NGOs over the past 20 years. Some 35 million euros are transferred annually to a small group of select NGOs, including those that have been declared terrorist organizations. The blood libels against the Jews in the Middle Ages have been replaced by the reports and campaigns of these groups.

The governments of Europe are playing a double game. On the one hand, they call for cooperation with Israel. On the other, they continue funding organizations that spread hate and delegitimize the existence of the Jewish state. These governments do this mainly as a means of applying pressure and influencing Israeli policy. In all likelihood, the claim that Israel failed to provide “substantial evidence” of terror connections is just an excuse for the Europeans to continue rewarding their subcontractors in the region. After all, the connection between European governments and these NGOs is strong and codependent; so much so that the Europeans simply cannot stop funding them, however deplorable their behavior may be.

Liora Henig-Cohen is a senior research fellow at NGO Monitor.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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