A large American charity organization has told Ynetnews it would "review" questions raised about funds channeled to Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), following a critique by an Israeli NGO watchdog.
NGO Monitor, based in Jerusalem, has recently released a report on donations by the Ford Foundation to a number of Palestinian organizations. In its report, NGO Monitor said the Ford Foundation had "violated its own funding guidelines".
The report was not the first time that the Ford Foundation and NGO Monitor clashed. Following the 2001 Durban racism conference, in which NGOs funded by Ford launched a high-pitched anti-Zionist campaign, the foundation came under fire from NGO Monitor.
"Following exposure of the Ford Foundation's support for radical participants in the infamous NGO Forum of the Durban 2001 conference, Ford officials pledged to stop 'supporting organizations whose conduct is antithetical to our objectives of promoting peace, justice, tolerance and understanding'. However, as planning begins for a follow-on UN conference in 2009... many Ford-funded NGOs continue to violate Ford's terms," NGO Monitor said in a press statement.
As one example, NGO Monitor pointed to the Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO), which received $150,000 from the Ford Foundation in 2006.
'We seek to promote democratic values'
During a "PHRO-hosted Palestinian Debate Meeting in October 2005," the issue of "the need to organize Palestinian arms" was raised, as well as calls "for the right of return," NGO Monitor said, adding that PHRO continued to demonize Israel in line with the 2001 Durban conference.
Professor Gerald Steinberg, Executive Director of NGO Monitor, added: "To avoid repeating the disastrous policies that enabled the NGO Forum at the 2001 Durban Conference to take place, Ford must be far more careful in reviewing and ending funding to groups which demonize Israel, and promote conflict."
Responding to the report, the Ford Foundation told Ynetnews: "The foundation always takes seriously any concerns about the work of our grantees. When the work of our grantees is questioned, we review such questions carefully. As we have in the past, we will take action if appropriate."
The statement added that "our grantees in the Middle East region do valuable and constructive work in education, peace building, the arts and human rights. The foundation always takes seriously any concerns about the work of our grantees."
"The foundation was disgusted by the vicious anti-Semitic activity that took place at Durban in 2001 and funds numerous organizations actively working to address anti-Semitism," the statement said, adding: "The Ford Foundation works in many trouble spots around the world, always seeking to promote democratic values, human rights, and peace. Our grants in both Israel and the Palestinian territories are driven by these universal values."
'Seeking to reduce injustice'
Based in New York, the foundation says its gets "its funds from an endowment valued at $11.6 billion as of the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005".
The money is mostly derived from a combination of venture capital and real estate investments owned by the foundation's trustees and governors, an NGO Monitor source explained.
The foundation has no link with the Ford car company, though it was originally founded by "Henry and Edsel Ford... in 1936 to support charitable and educational institutions," the organization explained on its website.
In Israel, the Ford Foundation says it has "played a central role in the evolution and development of Israel's civil society sector", spending $70 million here since 1948, "with a focus on human rights and the search for peace", the charity added.