FROM: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom TO: Select Gush Shalom supporters in Israel, the US and Europe DATE: July 29, 2009 RE: Update on campaign against foreign funding of illegal settlement activity BACKGROUND As I reported previously, Gush Shalom has been engaged recently in the planning, funding and implementation of a legal and public advocacy campaign aimed at blocking foreign funding of illegal settlement activity. The campaign is modeled on the organization’s successful ongoing effort to limit imports of settlement products to the EU and pressure multi-national corporations to divest from economic activity in the settlements. While the public launch of the campaign, through publication of the first reports and legal actions, was originally planned for September of this year, recent events have prompted us accelerate the timetable. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs under FM Avigdor Lieberman, in a grossly undemocratic move and in close coordination with a number of purportedly independent organizations such as NGO Monitor, has decided to actively target the operations of Israeli human rights organizations active in the Occupied Territories by pressuring the governments of friendly nations to cease critical financial support for them. This has ‘opened the door’ for the campaign in terms of domestic public legitimacy. In fact, in one published example, the MFA underscored our case for action. In approaching the government of the Netherlands to stop funding Breaking the Silence, it stated that the organization’s activities were legal and legitimate, but politically incorrect. Many of the activities of the organizations targeted by our campaign, however, are illegitimate and/or illegal under international, US and EU laws. As a result, over the past few days, Israeli and international lawyers and accountants with whom we consulted in the design of the campaign, have initiated contact and volunteered their services as in-kind contributions. This is important for moving the launch date forward, as we would like to fund these activities from private donations only. Therefore, we hope that, you will continue your longstanding support for our activities by donating to this campaign. CAMPAIGN UPDATE A major component includes a combination of legal action and public advocacy aimed at denying federal tax exempt (501c3) status to US charities supporting settlement activity. Prioritized first will be organizations directly and openly supporting development and operation of illegal outposts and the Israeli NGOs associated with them. Gush Shalom expects rapid results with this group as they pose an extreme embarrassment to the US administration as it pressures Israel to remove these outposts and discontinue funding to them. In this context, the campaign will also support civil litigation by Palestinian victims of politically motivated violence organized in these outposts, such as “Price Tag” attacks, many of which meet the US definition of terror activity. Action in particularly egregious cases is already in motion. One example is Shuva Israel, the US conduit for donations to the Shomron Liaison Office, which supports hotbeds of violent activity such as Havat Yair and Havat Gilad. The second stage of the US sweep will focus on financing mechanisms of supposedly mainstream organizations supporting activity in Israel, part of which is conducted in the Occupied Territories. These include funders of organizations, such as Nefesh B’Nefesh, which encourage immigration to the settlements, and Christian Zionist philanthropies supporting settlement activity. The list of organizations for which investigations are in process or planned is comprehensive and includes large bodies such the JNF, with several documented cases of projects in the Occupied Territories, and funders of the WZO, which runs the Settlement Division, a proxy of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture that channels tens of millions of NIS to settlements annually. Investigation and advocacy efforts are in process for a third group of US organizations -- those supporting policies enabling illegal settlement activity through propaganda campaigns. These include, among many others, groups such Stand With Us and The Israel Project. Because the operations of these bodies may be in a ‘gray E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 03-5565804",-.$ .%+ 58125 ")$%$* 2542.(.!"""#$%&"&$'
zone’ limiting legal action, public advocacy will underscore US-Israeli conflict of interest through exposure of financing links and coordination with Israeli government bodies, primarily the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. US businesses and major private donors supporting these organizations will be named in publications documenting their most problematic activities as American organizations actively engaged in undermining US foreign policy. Advocacy in the EU will largely parallel that in the US, with increased emphasis on the violation of international humanitarian law inherent in financial support for settlement activity. Because of the legal and public circumstances of individual European states, the campaign will operate through partnerships developed in the settlement product campaign with local NGOs. Initially, activity will focus on Scandinavia and the Netherlands, where a number of Christian Zionist organizations, some of whom have tax exempt status, have been documented as settlement funders. In Israel, public sources of information, such the database of the Registrar of Associations, are being researched by the campaign. Of particular interest are gaps between the stated objectives of Israeli NGOs and their actual operations in support of settlements or policies enabling settlements. This will form the basis for both domestic legal action and support advocacy against their foreign financial supporters. For example, a forensic accounting report on NGO Monitor will be published in the third quarter of 2009. The organization presents its goal as “promoting accountability of human rights NGOs in the Arab Israeli conflict.” The report will reveal, however, that it demonstrates clear political bias by consistently refraining from monitoring high-profile organizations using ‘human rights lawfare’ to enable settlement activity, such as Human Rights in Yesha, Shurat Hadin and The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel. In addition, apparent inconsistencies between donors reported to the Registrar and those published on the organization’s website are being investigated, as are allegations of improper cooperation and coordination with the MFA. The relationship between the NGO and Bar Ilan University, and the implications for the latter’s donors, will feature prominently. *** !
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