Switzerland has been funding several anti-Israel organizations, including some who belong to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, according to a March 6, 2017 Jerusalem Post report by correspondent Benjamin Weinthal (“Switzerland Funds NGO’s That Call For Israel’s Destruction”).
Weinthal, citing a February article in the Swiss daily Basler Zeitung, noted that Bern was funding several non-governmental organization’s (NGOs) that call “for the annihilation of Israel and for the death of Jews,” in the words of Zeitung’s senior editor Dominik Feusi. Following that report, on March 9, 2017, the Swiss parliament called to “amend the laws, ordinances and regulations so that Switzerland can no longer subsidize, even indirectly, development cooperation projects carried out by NGOs involved in racist, antisemitic or hate incitement actions, or in BDS campaigns.”
Several NGOs were highlighted in the report as recipients of the Swiss government’s largesse. The Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and Al-Haq, among them. The Badil Resource Center supports the BDS movement, which singles out the Jewish state for opprobrium and calls for its destruction. PCHR “routinely calls for the arrest of Israeli politicians and compares Israel with the former apartheid regime in South Africa.”
According to NGO Monitor, an organization that monitors non-governmental groups that are active in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Al-Haq’s General Director Shawan Jabarin has “alleged ties” to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)—a U.S.-designated terrorist group. NGO Monitor has also noted that the FBI subpoenaed Maureen Clair Murphy, a former Al-Haq employee, in December 2010 for her work with the Palestine Solidarity Group, which supports another U.S.-designated terror group, Hamas.
PCHR founder Raji Sourani has also admitted to having PFLP-ties. PCHR has been caught covering combatant casualties during the 2008-9 and 2014 Israel-Hamas wars. As CAMERA highlighted in a TIME Magazine Op-Ed, PCHR sought to portray terrorists killed by the Israeli military as civilians (“How Hamas Wields Gaza Casualties as Propaganda,” July 29, 2014).
Basler Zeitung reported that the Swiss government’s consultant on the distribution of funds to Palestinian NGOs is Mustafa Mari, a “human rights researcher” at Birzeit University and a BDS supporter. As CAMERA has noted, Birzeit University is a university in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank (Judea and Samaria) that regularly hosts militant parades and celebrations calling for the murder of Jews (“E.U.-Supported Palestinian University Calls to ‘Blow Up’ Jews,” Feb. 7, 2017). Similar to various anti-Israel NGOs, Birzeit receives considerable support from European governments.
The Swiss government’s decision to fund anti-Israel, pro-BDS organizations runs counter to its stated support for a two-state solution, Weinthal noted. Despite this, the Swiss parliamentary body Bundesrat had rejected “a motion from MP Christian Imark in 2016 to ban taxpayer money for initiatives that spread ‘racism and antisemitism.’”
Many of these anti-Israel NGOs are frequently treated as credible sources by news outlets, which often fail to report their histories and biases. PCHR, for example, is often quoted by The Washington Post (see here and here, for examples). Similarly, USA Today has misleadingly referred to Al-Haq as a “Palestinian human rights group” and failed to note—despite quoting him—Jabirin’s alleged terror ties (“Hamas backers rally at West Bank Funeral,” Feb. 24, 2008).
When it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Switzerland itself, like many of its neighbors, is often supposed to be a neutral arbitrator. Yet, considerable evidence argues otherwise. In February 2016, Reuters reported that in the 1970s, the Swiss government may have promised diplomatic aid to the Palestine Liberation Organization in exchange for the then-U.S. designated terror group stopping attacks on Swiss targets (“Switzerland to Probe Alleged Offer of Diplomatic Aid to PLO,” The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 20, 2016).
Additionally, like several other European countries, Switzerland refuses to list Hezbollah and Hamas—both of which are committed to Israel’s destruction—as terror groups. According to Weinthal, Switzerland even hosted and helped finance a December 2016 conference in which Hamas took part.
Nor has Switzerland been without regional allies in its efforts to target and delegitimize the Jewish state.
The Zeitung report noted that the Swiss government had sent $700,000 to a “human rights” organization set up as a front in Ramallah. That office is “funded by Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, and seeks to cover up the antisemitic work of its partner NGOs,” Weinthal said.