According to a document published in this week’s edition of Makor Rishon, the British government gives over half a million pounds Sterling each year to anti-Zionist Non-Governmental Organizations operating within the state of Israel.
The British government document, entitled NGOs in the Middle East Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, highlights the stunning contrast between London’s disproportionally high interest in Israel compared with other countries in the region.
Pro-democracy organizations in places like Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, for example, were shown to receive no financial assistance from the United Kingdom, despite the struggles of these movements to bring down oppressive and autocratic regimes.
The document also lists donations to two organizations in Bahrain last year – for a total of 3,698 pounds – as well as donations to five Iraqi NGOs, which received roughly 500,000 pounds.
Two organizations in Lebanon received about 64,000 pounds while several groups in Yemen also received small sums.
Outside of the sums given to Iraqi groups – where Britain had a major military presence until recently – all other NGOs in the Arab world were given about 100,000 pounds.
London’s generosity to organizations in Israel, however, has been revealed to be much greater. All other British government donations listed in the document for 2010 were distributed to anti-Zionist Israeli groups, which received over 600,000 pounds, as well as to Arab groups functioning in territories controlled by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which received about 400,000 pounds.
Among Israeli groups, the biggest “winners” were the Economic Cooperation Foundation, which receive 149,000 pounds – followed by Yesh Din (142,000 pounds) and Peace Now (100,000 pounds), both of which are at the forefront of filing petitions to the Supreme Court for the demolition of Jewish homes and communities in Israel’s disputed heartland.
Several other movements promoting a political agenda to shrink the state of Israel, dilute its Jewish character or forcibly expel ethnic Jews from the Judea and Samaria regions, are also on the list. The single non-political Israeli recipient of British government money was the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Program – which received 5,000 pounds.
Benny Katz of the Semitic Action movement told Indy News Israel that local organizations receiving money from Britain are “essentially guilty of espionage.”
“They take money from foreign governments while pursuing an overt political agenda that damages the state of Israel,” he argued. “In some cases these organizations even photograph Israeli military positions… The combination of taking money from foreign governments with promoting an agenda that harms the national interests of their own people would be called treason in any other part of the world.”
When asked why Britain would invest so much effort into harming the state of Israel, Katz answered that in addition to London’s traditional imperialist agenda, the British are still bitter over being driven from the country.
“Don’t forget the British used to rule our country,” he said. “Until Jewish freedom fighters won a relentless war of liberation. 1948, the year their flag was lowered from our soil, was the beginning of the end for the British empire as it existed. I would never assume that this is the sole or even primary motivation behind Britain’s anti-Zionist agenda. But on some level it has to still be a factor.”
During a discussion in London’s Parliament last year, the British government’s Minister for Mideast Affairs, Alistair Burt, said that the money given to Israeli groups was designed to have an impact on internal affairs in Israel.
“Since we began supporting these programs some significant changes have been made in the Israeli justice system, both civilian and military, and in the decisions they make. They have also raised a significant debate about these matters,” Burt said of the NGO support.
Danny Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, voiced strong objection to London’s interference in Israeli affairs.
“The fact that foreign countries fund organizations whose purpose is to influence the public discourse in Israel is scandalous,” he said. “I believe that the Knesset is not doing its job here. It is not enough to legislate rules requiring openness on the source of NGO donations, but they should totally prohibit foreign donations to political groups.”
“It is clear that this funding impacts on the activities of these groups, as they have to satisfy the donors and put Israel in a poor light. It is a vicious circle that hurts Israel, and it must be halted.”
In an official statement, the British Embassy in Tel Aviv said that the information is not secret nor unavailable to the public.