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Kingpin of the NGO Jetset By: Prof. Gerald Steinberg
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The European Union allocates hundreds of millions of euros annually to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), ostensibly to promote noble policy objectives, such as human rights, environmental protection and humanitarian relief.  And many of these NGOs have a very close relationship with the United Nations, in order to support the same good causes.

But like many other activities funded by the massive EU and UN bureaucracies, the impacts of the NGO network are rarely examined.  What do these organizations and the officials that run them actually do with the money?  While detailed answers require the type of investigations that these bureaucracies are loath to permit, (they preach transparency to others, but rarely practice it themselves) an examination of the public record provides some clues.  As shown in the reports of www.ngo-monitor.org, a significant percentage of the NGO funds are used for self-promoting press releases and air-fares for the officials who use the organizations to promote their private ideologies and interests under the facade of "civil society" ­- Europe's favorite buzzword.

Belgium Senator Pierre Galand provides an obvious case in point.  In addition to his position as a member of the Belgium Senate, Galand also heads the "World Organization against Torture ­ Europe;" the Belgian Association of the Friends of the Diplomatic World; the Foundation for Secularity and Central Humanism in Africa (LHAC); the European Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (an umbrella group with hundreds of member organizations linked to the UN Committee "on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People”); the Belgo-Palestinian Association; and others. In a very rare example of unity between Belgium's warring factions, Galand is a central figure in the radical political NGOs on both the Flemish and Walloon sides of the divide. In other words, Galand is the quintessential modern non-governmental organization man.

Indeed, Galand began his rise to political power in the 1960s, with a very long tenure as the head of Oxfam Belgium, which he transformed from a humanitarian aid organization into a radical NGO with a strong ideological agenda.  In 2003, Galand was still leading Oxfam demonstrations, including some in which he held this group's anti-Semitic poster based on the blood libel (‘the Fruits of the Occupation’), until international pressure forced Oxfam International to issue an apology and end this campaign.

In these various capacities, Galand is the political equivalent of Zelig, the main character in Woody Allen’s movie who makes an appearance at all of the world's major events.  He can found on the program of countless major and minor activities on the international NGO calendar.  These include meetings of the Euromed Civil Forum (funded by the EU), the World Social Forum (Porto Alegre, Brazil; Mubai, India), the Umbrella of Grassroots International Protection for the Palestinian People (GIPP), conferences sponsored by the UN’s Committee on Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, etc.  In June 2004, he starred in a meeting in Beijing on “The Role of Civil Society in Promoting a Just and Lasting Peace in the Middle East” run by the UN’s Department of Public Information.  Three weeks later, he spoke at the “3rd International Conference on An End to Occupation.”  And this is a very partial list.  

Galand uses these platforms and his access to funds from European governments to promote his personal agenda, including anti-Americanism and anti-globalization.  Like other aging rebels from the 1960s, he is still fighting the old battles, comparing “the global anti-war movement”, the resistance to “the occupation of Iraq” and, of course, the battles for Palestine to the Vietnam War.

These themes are repeated as Galand jet-sets around the world of NGO conferences.  His standard speech refers to Israeli "aggression", "war crimes", "colonization", etc. while referring to Palestinians as "heroic".   Galand played a major role in exploiting the massive NGO caucus at the 2001 Durban Conference on Racism and Xenophopbia to publicize the odious comparison of Zionism to apartheid.  As hundreds of Israelis were blown apart by Palestinian terror, Galand called for organizing a world-wide network of NGO volunteers to provide "civil protection" for the Palestinians, against the "Zionist war machine."

Unsurprisingly, Galand’s speeches ignore Palestinian terror bombings and the deaths of almost 1000 Israelis in the past four years.  His frenetic activities were also central to the pseudo-legal “advisory decision” of the International Court of Justice that endorsed the UN’s indictment of Israel’s security barrier, while erasing all traces of Palestinian terrorism.  Galand’s obsessions were central to this and many other instances of the demonization of Israel and Zionism -- the 21st century's version of anti-Semitism.

The case of Pierre Galand is a very glaring example of the ease with which massive official European funding for so-called “non-government organizations” is abused to promote private political agendas.  The taxpayers’ revolt that has forced a reluctant EU Commission to investigate Arafatgate (funding for the Palestinian Authority) and other scandals needs to be widened to include examination of the murky world of NGOs, and Pierre Galand in particular.  And at the UN, in addition to unraveling the Iraqi “oil for food scandal," we need a public accounting of the funds spent on Galand’s world-wide NGO travel budget devoted to demonizing Israel.  Grounding Galand will not end the UN and EU’s deeply rooted faults, or end the widespread exploitation of NGOs for political warfare and justification of terror, but it might remove one major source of international immorality.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg is the editor of NGO Monitor (www.ngo-monitor.org).

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