When multilateralism turns evil – opinion

“Multilateralism,” the Belgian Foreign Ministry boasts repeatedly on its social media platforms, “is part of our DNA.”

Multilateralism is often understood as collaboration between three or more parties, especially national governments, to achieve a common goal.

Research carried out by NGO Monitor has revealed that the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its General Directorate for Development Cooperation (DGD), provides millions of euros to NGOs that propagate anti-Israel narratives, disseminate laws, promote discriminatory campaigns of BDS and demonize the Jewish state.

Author Patricia Teitelbaum (Credit: Courtesy)

One of the published goals of this public funding is, in drafting a cooperation agreement with various NGOs, “to mitigate the influence of pro-Israeli voices,” presumably like ours. Any democracy worth its salt would consider it a serious misappropriation of public funds, but not Belgium, where the strange ideological biases of high officials at the Foreign Ministry continue to confuse honorable diplomatic behavior.

A notorious example of this involved the Director General of Multilateralism of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Axel Kenes. Last year he invited Brad Parker, senior advisor for Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), to address the UN Security Council, which Belgium was presiding over at the time.

DCI-P receives public funding through its Belgian partner, the NGO Broederlijk Delen. Many DCI-P employees and board members have demonstrable ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), responsible for the murders of Jews in Israel and abroad. Consequently, the Israeli Defense Ministry designated DCI-P itself as a terrorist organization in October. Should the Belgian state finance Broederlijk Delen and other NGOs like Oxfam Solidarité, Viva Salud and SolSoc that are so closely associated with terrorism?

That question was posed in the Belgian federal parliament to the current DGD minister, Meryame Kitir. She promised an investigation. Concerned MPs said it must be independent and transparent. It turned out to be neither. Ms. Kitir simply stated that after having investigated it, there was no case to answer.

But how credible is this statement by a minister whose spokesperson, Catherine De Bock, whose father-in-law had been a PFLP terrorist who was killed in a violent clash with the IDF. De Bock wrote in a Facebook post that he “died in the fight for a free Palestine … It is our duty to continue his fight.”

Is this fight (killing civilians through terrorist acts) the “duty” of any democratic government?

Since 2016, there have been many publicly available posts about the connections between 13 European government-funded NGOs and the PFLP terrorist group. In 2014-2021, European governments and the European Union donated more than € 200 million to Palestinian NGOs with senior officials linked to the PFLP, some of whom were involved in the murder of Israeli teenager Rina Schnerb in a 2019 terrorist attack. .

In the past, Belgium’s diplomatic policy was characterized by cautious equidistance. By this is meant a careful approach aimed at signaling neutrality in complex matters. The so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict is such a complex issue. Equidistance has apparently been consciously replaced in Belgium with a simplistic narrative of good versus evil. This Manichean worldview romanticizes anything Palestinian while demonizing everything Israeli.

It leads to an absurd and disproportionate condemnation of Israel while covering up for complicit and murderous Palestinian NGOs. We see this absurdity at the United Nations, whose convictions against Israel since 2015 amount to an unmatched 211, compared to just 16 against Iran, and zero against Saudi Arabia.

Belgian politicians operate in an intricate world of coalition mechanisms where transparency and accountability are minimal at best, and the consequences of their actions hardly exist. However, they must now ensure that there is no semblance of embezzlement whereby, driven by a perverse reinterpretation of multilateralism, politically biased NGOs linked to terrorist organizations committed to Israel’s disappearance receive state funding to “continue the fight” against Israel. Such prejudice should never be part of the DNA of a decent democracy.

The misleading and false narrative perpetrated by the pernicious BDS campaign has been too enthusiastically accepted by states and international bodies harboring deep-seated anti-Semitism. No other cause unites disparate factions more than hatred of Jews, the latest iteration of which is hatred of the Jewish state, disguised in the outspoken language of human rights. If they really cared about human rights, the UN and the EU would encourage dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians of goodwill, not demonization.

Dialogue requires that pro-Israel voices be heard, not mitigated.

Patricia Teitelbaum is president of Belgian Friends of Israel, a Brussels-based NGO that is pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian and pro-peace. This op-ed is published in association with a coalition of organizations fighting anti-Semitism around the world. Read the previous article by Adam Milstein.


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