A leading US-based Jewish human rights organization cautioned the US government on Tuesday against donating funds to Palestinian NGOs with a history of antisemitism.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was responding to a report by pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon that Miftah, a Ramallah-based non-profit organization founded and headed by long-time Yasser Arafat loyalist, Palestinian Legislative Council member and former peace process spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi, has been receiving a hefty annual sum from the US Consulate in Jerusalem.
“The question that needs to be asked is: Where should US diplomatic and funding efforts be concentrated when it comes to the ideas and values propagated in Palestinian society? The answer is: It should go to those NGOs committed and contributing to the idea of two peoples living side by side in peace and tolerance,” Cooper told The Algemeiner.
Miftah was forced to remove an antisemitic blood libel from its Arabic website two years ago, following exposure by Elder of Ziyon. In March 2013, the watchdog noted Miftah’s publication of an article claiming that Jews use the blood of Christian children for their Passover matzah.
This caused Miftah first to defend itself — accusing critics of conducting a “smear campaign” — and then days later to take down the piece and issue an apology in English, part of which was devoted to distancing Ashrawi from its author and his ideology.
Elder of Ziyon’s current report — based on Miftah’s financial statements and the US Congressional Research Service – shows that in 2013 and 2014, the US Consulate was added to the NGO’s list of donors, among them Oxfam, NED, Norway, Austria and the Anna Lindh Foundation.
The annual sum given by the US to Miftah, according to the financial records, is $175,000.
Rabbi Cooper posited that a litmus test has to be applied to any Palestinian organization receiving funds from the US and Europe. “There should be no automatic checks signed over,” he told The Algemeiner. “The bottom line is, don’t tell me that [Miftah] hasn’t spread blood libels lately, and therefore it’s okay to give it money. The point is to examine whether, as a voice in the Palestinian Authority, it is contributing to civil society or not. If so, maybe $175,000 is too little a sum. If not, we shouldn’t be giving it a nickel.”
Cooper went on to slam the Palestinian leadership.
“From the beginning of this stabbing and vehicular intifada, the PA – headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who shouted about the Jews’ ‘dirty feet’ on the Temple Mount – has been launching a full-blown assault on the very concept of civil society,” he said. “Everything the PA is doing now is an assault.”
He also asserted that other voices in the PA, who espouse a different attitude about where their society should be headed, and convey a message of coexistence with Israel, “are neither heard nor valued.”
This is a good time, he concluded, to revise the criteria for the allocation of American aid where the Palestinians are concerned.
“Our tax dollars should only go to efforts against violence,” he said. “That’s where we should be investing our money.”