To understand Israel-hatred, follow the money

Why would NGOs, U.N. agencies and international organizations ever want to give up the filthy lucre they get for bashing Israel?

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, July 26, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, July 26, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Matan Peleg (Wikipedia)
Matan Peleg
Matan Peleg is CEO of Im Tirtzu and the author of the book State for Sale.

Pundits on the left point to the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the reason why Israel continues to be condemned in the media, international forums and sometimes almost everywhere. Pundits on the right point to the eternal nature of antisemitism and say, well, what can you expect?

But there is another reason that gets far less attention: good old-fashioned profit. Put simply, bashing Israel is good business.

For example, there is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is devoted to one kind of refugee in the world: Palestinian Arabs. UNRWA has unilaterally decided to rewrite the rules on who qualifies as a refugee, so that not only any Arab who fled or was displaced during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 is a perpetual refugee, but so are their progeny, regardless of whether they have become citizens of other countries. Thanks to UNRWA’s bizarre perversion of international law, which applies to no other group of refugees in the world, there are now some seven million people who fit this definition.

UNRWA is also very, very rich. It enjoys a $1 billion annual budget, employs tens of thousands of workers and is one of the largest “industries” in Palestinian society. No one involved in it would dare to contemplate turning off the money faucet.

The Palestinian leadership certainly has no intention of doing so. By cynically tugging the heart strings of a gullible Western world, which then happily opens its wallet, Palestinian leaders have made enormous amounts of money by a time-honored method: They stole it.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, for example, has a fortune estimated at $3 billion. His deputy, Abu Marzouk, is forced to struggle through life with only $2 billion. Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas is somewhat more modest, with only $100 million, while his two sons are thought to be worth $300 million. Of course, it is reasonable to suspect that a large part of the Abbas family’s assets have been carefully hidden and therefore cannot even be estimated.

Further down the trough are the terrorists paid monthly salaries by the P.A. in thanks for murdering Jews. The more Jews are killed, the higher the monthly payments. These “pay to slay” salaries currently add up to $345 million per annum.

Besides UNRWA and the terrorist warlords, we cannot forget the anti-Israeli propaganda industry. After all, someone has to maintain the West’s guilty conscience, or the money might stop flowing. This is where the BDS organizations come in—Palestinian organizations, Western organizations and even Israeli organizations.

It is important to emphasize that there is often a deep connection between these anti-Israel NGOs and various terrorist organizations. The organization Addameer, for example, is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Yet despite its terror connections, Addameer is well remunerated. It has received more than 20 million euros from the Dutch government over the past decade. Thankfully, after Dutch government officials were presented with evidence of Addameer’s involvement in terrorism, the aid funds were frozen.

Addameer is by no means alone. Between 2016-2020, the United Nations donated at least $40,000,000 to 19 Palestinian BDS organizations. Eight of these organizations have been linked to the PFLP, and six of them were declared terrorist organizations by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Aug. 2022. The cash payments to these groups were transferred through such rarified international institutions as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The art of money laundering is by no means confined to drug cartels.

Western BDS organizations that operate in international institutions and on scores of campuses also receive hundreds of millions of dollars a year from various sources and governments. One of the largest and most prosperous is the Open Society Foundations, bankrolled by the left-wing billionaire George Soros.

This organization received a staggering $18 billion from Soros in 2017 and supports a large number of prominent BDS organizations. Members of 20 of these groups are prohibited from entering Israel. In 2016, Open Society Foundations internal documents were published anonymously by the Russia-linked site DCLeaks. Among the documents were instructions to put pressure on the European Union to implement a policy of labeling Israeli products produced in Judea and Samaria, something that would dramatically strengthen the BDS movement.

This is a homegrown problem as well. Over the last decade, 70 Israeli organizations whose work is indistinguishable from that of foreign anti-Israel NGOs received no less than $260 million from foreign governments, the E.U. and the U.N. At the top of the donor countries were Germany, the U.S., the Netherlands, Switzerland and Norway.

Not everyone passionately hates Israel, but almost everyone wants to get rich. With this kind of money on offer, and the prospect of lucrative careers ahead of them, why would anyone want to risk missing out on all that filthy lucre by giving up their hatred of the Jewish state?

Matan Peleg is the CEO of Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist organization. He is the author of A State for Sale, which documents foreign government funding of anti-Israel organizations in Israel.

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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