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Happy Israeli Apartheid Week!

Many of you — particularly those of you based on college campuses — will be aware that yesterday kicked off Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), a synchronized series of global anti-Israel events. IAW is an annual showpiece of the BDS movement, which rather disappointingly has nothing to do with outre sexual practices. The initials stand for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Israeli Apartheid Week banner

From March 7 through March 20 (yes, the week is actually two weeks), representatives of assorted NGOs will speak on campuses across the US, Canada and Europe with the express purpose of demonizing Israel. Fortunately, there exists an organization called NGO Monitor whose raison d’etre is to combat the “politically and ideologically motivated anti-Israel agendas” of organizations devoted to this country’s delegitimization.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, explained to The Jerusalem Post that IAW is essentially a series of “mini-Durban” events, meaning that they strategically employ feel-good human rights language to isolate and humiliate Israel. This tactic can be particularly effective on college campuses, where both feeling good and concurring with the perceived “correct” political standpoint on hot-button subjects are often high priorities.

To help intrepid college students combat the flood of anti-Israel rhetoric that will wash over them for the next two weeks, NGO Monitor has constructed a visual aid called the BDS Sewer System, an image that uses a network of pipes to show the links connecting NGOs to their money sources — and that maps out the uses to which they put the money. The image shows money flowing from governments, the EU, foundations and charities to the organizations, which then use the funds to funnel their ideas to the public via mainstream, fringe, unionized and church group outlets. “Most students are unaware of the extreme agendas and hate-filled language associated with the groups behind IAW,” said Jonathan Gilbert of Bruins for Israel, the Hillel society at UCLA. “The Sewer System helps demonstrate this fact to them.”

NGO Monitor notes that while in some cases, funders share the anti-Israel bent of the NGOs they sponsor, in other cases their original intention was entirely benign. In some instances, “governmental and private sources assign funds ostensibly to promote human rights, humanitarian aid, democracy and civil society,” but “NGOs divert this support to bolster BDS activity and pursue their own political agendas. Due to an absence of strict guidelines, oversight, accountability and evaluations of decision making, the funding continues year after year.”

The Jerusalem Post asked NGO Monitor for examples. They pointed to the Dutch government, which funded the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO) on the grounds that it is an “aid organization.” ICCO used the money to finance Electronic Intifada, a website that engages in open political warfare with Israel, comparing Israelis to Nazis and regularly accusing us of ethnic cleansing and genocide. “The Dutch government didn’t know this until we showed it to them,” said Jason Edelstein, speaking for NGO Monitor. “ICCO of course knew how the money was being used, but the Dutch government did not.” Edelstein went on to cite The New Israel Fund and the Ford Foundation as examples of organizations that “have not been fully aware that some funding goes to NGOs that promote BDS and are involved in other aspects of the delegitimization campaign.”