By Prof. Gerald Steinberg
The network of non-governmental organizations that claim to promote human rights and humanitarian agendas, and are centrally involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, often use antisemitic themes and images in their campaigns. Some of these reflect classical antisemitism, while other cases involve the singling out of Israel, double standards, obsessive condemnations of responses to terror and campaigns for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions, as declared in the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference.
Before the creation of the State of Israel, anti-Semitic attacks, including the use of bigoted tropes such as blood libels, theological accusations, and racist depictions, were directed at the Jewish people. “New anti-Semitism,” a more recent phenomenon, substitutes hatred of the Jew with demonization of Israel.
Groups engaged in these campaigns include large international NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as fringe Palestinian NGOs such as MIFTAH and Badil. While many of these organizations’ budgets comprise of European government funding, these organizations employ classical and theological anti-Semitism, at times also using rhetoric that constitutes anti-Semitism.
For example, on March 27, 2013, Miftah, a radical Palestinian NGO, published an Arabic-language article, in response to U.S. President Obama’s support for Israel and his celebration of the Passover Seder, repeating the antisemitic blood libel. The author wrote, “Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between ‘Passover’ and ‘Christian blood’… ?! Or ‘Passover’ and ‘Jewish blood rituals…?! Much of the historical stories and tales about Jewish blood rituals in Europe are based on real rituals and are not false as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover …”
Similarly, a Palestinian NGO known as Badil, has repeatedly been linked to antisemitic images and rhetoric. In 2010, an antisemitic cartoon won a monetary award for 2nd prize in Badil’s Al-Awda Nakba caricature competition. The cartoon is a blatant representation of classic antisemitic tropes, including a Jewish man, garbed in traditional Hasidic attire, with a hooked nose and side locks. He stands above a dead child and skulls, holding a pitchfork dripping with blood.
Despite the extensive evidence of NGO antisemitism, governments continue to fund these groups. Officials justify the funding under the pretense that it is intended for distinct “projects” unrelated to the grantee’s wider agenda and expressions of antisemitism. However, funders are enablers, and share full responsibility for the activities of their grantees.
The ongoing government funding for NGOs that engage in antisemitic activities and use antisemitic rhetoric highlights the persistent double standard: Hatred of Jews is tolerated in a way that would be unthinkable for other racial, ethnic, or religious groups; moreover, Jewish and Israeli targets are often denied the right to define what constitutes discrimination against them.
Dr. Gerald M. Steinberg is Professor of political science at Bar Ilan University, and President of NGO Monitor, Jerusalem