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October 17, 2003 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-17

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EDWIN BLACK
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Washington
n August 2001, thousands of
human rights activists from
around the globe gathered in
Durban, South Africa, for a
United Nations conference that partici-
pants hoped would address racial injus-
tice plaguing humanity.
But after more than a year of prepara-
tory conferences in Iran, Switzerland,
Chile, France and Senegal, it became
clear to Israeli officials and Jewish orga-
nizational leaders that Palestinian non-
governmental organizations, or NGOs,
and their allies, had manipulated the
agenda of the U.N. World Conference
Against Racism into an indictment of
Israel as an illegitimate apartheid, colo-
nial and genocidal regime.
As expected, anti-Israel agitation, anti-
Zionist propaganda and blatant anti-
Semitism permeated the eight-day
Durban affair. Posters displaying Nazi
icons and Jewish caricatures, anti-Israel
protest marches, organized jeering, incit-
ing leaflets and anti-Jewish cartoons
were everywhere, as was orchestrated
anti-American agitation.
A virulent resolution drafted by non-
governmental organizations at the
Durban conference declared Israel a
"racist apartheid state" guilty of "geno-
cide and ethnic cleansing." Secretary of
State Colin Powell withdrew the
American delegation.
"No one knew where the money was
coming from to fund all these NGOs,"
remembers Judith Palkovitz of
Pittsburgh, Hadassah general secretary
and a delegate at Durban. She, other
Jewish leaders and State Department
officials "assumed it was a foreign group
— say Saudi Arabia."
They were wrong. The Ford
Foundation, one of America's largest
philanthropic institutions — and
arguably the most prestigious — was a
multimillion-dollar finder of many
human rights NGOs attending Durban.
The foundation — which was
endowed by Henry and Edsel Ford but
no longer maintains any ties to the Ford
Motor Company — has long been
known as a fonder of Palestinian causes.
But most observers did not suspect the
extent of the foundation's involvement

I

10/17
2003

16

.t•

ment for the Ford Foundation — a
major fonder of LAW and PNGO.
Through its Cairo office, Ford has
extended $35 million in grants to 272
Arab and Palestinian organizations dur-
ing the two-year 2000-2001 period
alone — the most recent years- for
which data is available — plus 62 grants
to individuals which total another $1.4
million.
Since the 1950s, the foundation's
Beirut and Cairo offices have awarded
more than 8193 million to more than
350 Middle East organizations, almost
entirely Arab, Islamic or Palestinian.
Ford's Web site at
wwvviordfound.org offers detailed
information about its Middle East
grants. On the site as of mid-October,
"Palestine" is frequently mentioned on
its Mideast pages, but Israel's name is •
absent. Moreover, the Web site's shaded
map of the geographical region from
Egypt to Lebanon and Jordan blanks
out over Israel's territory, even though
Ford does make grants to both Jewish
and Arab organizations in Jerusalem.
Initially, despite more than two dozen
requests by phone and in writing over a
period of several weeks, the Ford
Foundation's communications vice pres-
ident Alex Wilde, deputy media director
Thea Lurie and media associate Joe
Voeller refused to answer any questions
regarding the foundation's funding of
groups engaged in anti-Israeli agitation
and anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist activity.
However, after this investigation was
completed, Wilde sent a six-page writ-
ten statement, declaring:
"We have seen no indication that our
grantees in Durban or elsewhere
engaged in anti-Semitic speech or activi-
ties. The Foundation does not support
hate speech of any kind."
"Some of our human rights and
development grantees have certainly
been critical of policies and practices of
the Israeli government insofar as these
discriminate against Palestinians or oth-
erwise violate their rights, according to
internationally agreed human rights
standards and international law. We do
not believe that this can be described as
`agitation.'"

-

Demontstrators prepare to march in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

in funding groups that engage in anti-
Zionist, anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian
activities both inside and outside the \
Middle East.

Millions

With hundred of millions of dollars
being pumped into Mideast NGOs by
numerous private foundations in the
U.S. and in Europe, government and
communal officials are raising signifi-
cant questions about how the money
given to Palestinians is being used and
whether fenders such as the Ford
Foundation are exercising proper con-
trols.
The Jewish representatives at Durban
"didn't understand the efforts, the
financing and the organization that
went into hijacking the conference,"
recalls Reva Price, Washington represen-
tative of the Jewish Council for Public
Affairs and a Durban delegate.
Many Jewish organizational officials
who participated complained that a key
organization responsible was the
Palestinian Committee for the
Protection of Human Rights and the
Environment, which operates under the
acronym LAW.

LAW officials took leadership posi-
dons on the Durban conference steering
committees, conducted workshops and
even sponsored a pre-conference mis-
sion to the West Bank and Gaza Strip
for South African delegates, to convince
them that Israel was an apartheid state.
"LAW was instrumental in creating
the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic focus
at Durban," said Andrew Srulevitch,
executive director of the Geneva-based
U.N. Watch.
The Palestinian NGO Network
(PNGO), an umbrella organization of
some 90 Palestinian NGOs and many
constituent groups, diligently became
embedded in the conference bureaucra-
cy that created the hostile environment
at Durban.
PNGO led the move to craft an
NGO resolution that would "call upon
the international community to impose
a policy of complete and total isolation
of Israel as an apartheid state," including
"the imposition of mandatory and com-
prehensive sanctions and embargoes,
[and] the full cessation of all links
(diplomatic, economic, social, aid, mili-
tary cooperation and training) between
all states and Israel."
Durban was not a one-time invest-

Pivotal Funds

Both LAW and PNGO confirmed that

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