What is the Durban Strategy?
At the 2001 UN Durban World Conference Against Racism, a powerful network of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) adopted a strategy to delegitimise and isolate Israel internationally by exploiting the rhetoric of human rights. At the Conference, some 1500 NGOs adopted a Final Declaration that revived the Soviet-initiated 1975 UN resolution declaring Zionism to be a form of racism.
The Durban NGO declaration used demonising language designed to delegitimise Israel. It declared Israel to be a “racist, apartheid state in which Israel’s brand of apartheid [is] a crime against humanity,” and called for the “launch of an international anti-Israeli apartheid
movement” leading to the “complete and total isolation of Israel.”
Governmental Funding of the “Durban Strategy”
Over the past decade, a global network of NGOs implemented this strategy. Their campaigns are sustained by massive funding from governments (particularly from Europe) and foundations. The boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which built upon the “Durban strategy,” seeks to totally isolate Israel by “target[ing] products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions.”
Over the last decade, BDS directed at Israel has developed as a key issue in Christian denominations in the United States, Europe, Canada and elsewhere. Taxpayer money, mostly from Europe but also from the U.S. and Canada, is disbursed as grants to both Protestant and Catholic humanitarian aid organizations. In turn, these funds are transferred to highly politicised NGOs involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. These grant recipients include church-based humanitarian NGOs, which then transfer these funds to politicized pro-Palestinian NGOs, including Christian groups that promote BDS, the one-state solution and, in many cases, antisemitic supercessionist, or replacement, theologies within mainline churches worldwide.
How is Ireland involved?
Three Irish NGOs in particular have been involved in anti-Israel efforts, funded by Irish taxpayer money.
•Christian Aid: Christian Aid operates in more than 50 countries and is heavily subsidized by the Irish, UK, Scottish, US, Norwegian, and EU governments. Christian Aid assumes a highly biased and politicised approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
o Christian Aid’s Partner Organizations include some of the most radical NGOs operating in the region: Sabeel, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Adalah, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Israeli Coalition Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Ittijah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I), B’Tselem, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees , Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), Parents’ Circle Families Forum (PCFF) and Greenbelt .
o Its publications systematically ignore Palestinian responsibility in the conflict and minimize Israel’s right to self-defense.
oIn June 2012 Christian Aid issued a call for legislation banning the import of goods to the UK from “illegal Israeli settlements.” At the July 2012 Methodist Conference, a motion was passed supporting this call.
o Christian Aid, as an organization and in terms of its publications, is also featured on the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s (IPSC) website. The IPSC is a strong promoter of BDS and refers to Israel as an “apartheid state.”
o Christian Aid contributed to the 2013 Zochrot conference called “From Truth to Redress: Realizing the Return of Palestinian Refugees.” Zochrot is a fringe Israeli NGO with a minimal Israeli constituency. Their positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict include an insistence on a “right of return” for 1948 Palestinian refugees and their generations of descendants, a demand which ultimately amounts to a call for the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
•Trócaire: Founded in 1973 as the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church of Ireland, Trócaire’s mandate is “to support long-term development projects overseas and to provide relief during emergencies” and “to inform the Irish public about the root causes of poverty and injustice and mobilise the public to bring about global change.” As of February 2013, Trócaire’s income reached €60 million. Irish Aid, Trócaire’s largest single donor, contributed €18.5 million in 2013. The UK government was Trócaire’s second largest donor in 2013, having contributed a DFID grant of €5.2 million. Trócaire also received €3.6 million from the EU/ECHO in 2013.
o In September 2013, Trócaire co-sponsored the International Right of Return Conference which featured speakers from Zochrot, ICAHD, Badil, and advocates for a “one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Lecture topics included a discussion on the specifics and logistics of refugee “return” and a talk on how “to end the colonial nature of Israel.”
o In September 2012, Trócaire began a “new phase of our organizational advocacy campaign on Palestine” their report “Sustaining Injustice: EU trade with Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” and a second report “Trading Away Peace: How Europe helps sustain illegal Israeli settlements.” The reports are part of a “campaign call[ing] on Ireland, the EU and the UK to ban trade from illegal Israeli settlements, and on retailers to stop stocking goods from Israeli settlements.”
o Acting against Irish government policy, Trócaire conducts a campaign to sanction Israel (and Europe) by suspending mutually beneficial trade agreements, and attempted to block Israel’s inclusion in the OECD. These actions are consistent with Trócaire’s history of political activity against Israel, including a campaign against the security barrier and sponsorship of events commemorating the “nakba.”
•Irish Aid: Irish Aid, Ireland’s assistance program for developing countries, claims to “promote coherence across the full range of Irish government policies on issues such as agriculture, trade, the environment and fiscal matters.” In reality, Irish Aid funds many NGOs that participate in anti-Israel activities.
o In addition to funding Trócaire and Christian Aid, Palestinian and Israeli political NGOs directly funded by the Irish government include: Al Haq, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Gisha, Bimkom, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Miftah, Alternative Information Center, Yesh Din, and Addameer. All of these grantees are active in either BDS or lawfare campaigns.
o Despite the Irish government’s opposition to “proposals for trade sanctions or boycotts against Israel,” a number of Irish Aid grantees are active in BDS campaigns, anti-Israel campus activities, and lawfare against Israeli officials, IDF soldiers, and corporations.
o Irish-funded NGOs involved in lawfare (partial list) include:
Yesh Din – In addition to involvement in lawfare and the discredited Goldstone Report, this group continues to promote false allegations regarding Israeli “war crimes.” In December 2011, Yesh Din published a report that falsely claims that the IDF military police and military advocate general corps “fail” in their duty to investigate IDF soldiers, thus reinforcing the justification for filing “war crimes” cases in European and international tribunals.
Al Haq – Al Haq is a leader in anti-Israel lawfare campaigns, seeking to prosecute Israeli officials, and to damage Israeli political and international business ties. The group attempted to secure an arrest warrant for Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the UK (2009), and filed a civil suit against a Canadian corporation for allegedly “aiding, abetting, assisting and conspiring with the State of Israel” to commit “war crimes” (2008). Al Haq also filed a suit for judicial review of UK export licenses to Israel (2009). This lawsuit was designed to circumvent the British legislative process and UK foreign policy in order to secure a judicially imposed embargo of all British “aid or assistance (military or otherwise) to Israel.” The group also suggested “flooding the [Israeli Supreme] Court with petitions in the hope of obstructing its functioning and resources.” Shawan Jabarin, Al Haq’s General Director, has been denied exit visas by both Israel and Jordan for his alleged ties to the PFLP terror organization. On July 7, 2008, the Israeli Supreme Court noted that Jabarin is “among the senior activists of the Popular Front terrorist organization.”
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – The PCHR has tried to have Israelis arrested in England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, and New Zealand. In the U.S., the group has filed for punitive damages against Israeli officials and companies doing business with Israel. All of PCHR’s cases have been dismissed in the preliminary stages. On April 8, 2010, PCHR published “The Principle and Practice of Universal Jurisdiction: PCHR’s Work in the occupied Palestinian territory,” advancing allegations of Israel’s “violations of international humanitarian law,” “war crimes,” and “culture of pervasive impunity.” After the 2009 Gaza War, PCHR officials met ICC officials in Hague to “explore different avenues to bring justice to the victims of serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.” PCHR regularly refers to indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians as “resistance” and rockets that fall short of their Israeli civilian targets and cause injuries to Palestinians as “misuse of weapons.”