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The Ford Foundation: Funding International Terror? By: Steven Bernstein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 12, 2003


American philanthropic organizations have given substantial amounts of money to Palestinian charities over the years, but their dollars may have funded a great deal more than charity. There is reason to believe that some of this money may have gone from philanthropic foundations, through Palestinian NGO's, into the hands of terrorist organizations. The Ford Foundation is one philanthropic group whose money has made its way, through various twists and turns, into terrorists' hands.

With assets of approximately $10 billion, the Ford Foundation is headquartered in New York City, with 13 offices worldwide. The Ford Foundation played a large part in funding the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, which occurred in Durban, South Africa, ending just two days before September 11, 2001. The stated purpose of this Conference was to unite all of humanity against racism. However, the Conference quickly turned into a circus of anti-Semitic and anti-American acts. The two main events were the Official Conference and the NGO Forum. At the NGO Forum, Jewish delegates were verbally and physically harassed, and the Official Conference revived the UN document equating Zionism with racism, rescinded by the UN in 1991.

The Palestinian Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, also known by the acronym LAW (Land and Water), played a key role in narrowing the focus of the Conference, on Israel, America, and Jews. LAW members were on the Conference steering committee, and LAW organized a trip to Gaza for South African delegates, to demonstrate that Israel is a "racist, apartheid state." The Ford Foundation plays a key role in funding LAW. Since 1997, LAW has received $1.1 million from the Ford Foundation. However, despite signs displaying Jewish caricatures and anti-Semitic cartoons, Ford has denied that any of their grantees engaged in hate speech, or were involved in anti-Semitic activities.
 
However, Ford also funds the Palestinian NGO Network, or PNGO, an organization that comprises at least 90 Palestinian NGO's. From 1999 to 2002, PNGO received several Ford grants, totaling $1.4 million, and an additional $270,000 supplemental grant. From available data, PNGO receives at least $350,000 annually from Ford.
 
Edwin Black, in a four-part article, "Funding Hate: Ford Foundation finances anti-Israel Activists," written for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, states, "The overwhelming majority of Ford's monies for the Middle East are granted to pro-Palestinian and Islamic rights groups." One of these groups, which Black discusses, is the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, in Gaza. The Al Mezan Center received $100,000 from Ford, for "community based advocacy work on economic, social and cultural rights in Gaza," which translated means the disruption of Israeli Defense Force activities.
 
An example of "community based advocacy work" can be found at Al Mezan's website, www.mezan.org. On the front page is a picture of Rachel Ailene Corrie, a young American woman who was accidently killed by an Israeli bulldozer, which was clearing brush in front of a house known to contain entrances to tunnels used by terrorists. Corrie was an "activist" with the International Solidarity Movement--ISM, a group allied with Al Mezan. She was attempting to stop the bulldozers from demolishing the house. Earlier, she was photographed burning an American flag in Gaza, while ranting anti-American propaganda. Yet underneath her picture on Al Mezan's website is the phrase "Killed for Justice."
 
The description of her death, under the link "Conditions of the Incident," is similarly bogus. There is no mention of why the bulldozers were there, and the two pictures above the text lead the reader to believe that Ms.Corrie was killed in cold blood. Yet the evidence suggests that the bulldozer in the picture did not kill her, and that her death was in fact, accidental. The rest of the text describes ISM as non-violent, however, assault rifles and other munitions have been found at ISM sites, an indication that ISM is not a peaceful organization. Another Palestinian organization, the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute, received two Ford grants totaling $135,000.
 
At their incendiary website,  www.palestinemonitor.org, there is a link titled "Boycott Israeli Goods," which leads to another website, www.boycottisrael.org. At this website, the reader is met with a list of American companies to boycott. These include IBM, Disney, The Limited, Nestle, Sara Lee, Starbucks, and Home Depot, each one an American company. The reason for their listing is also given. Starbucks is on the list because Howard Shultz, Starbucks' Chairman, "is an active Zionist." Disney is listed because the "Millenium exhibition at the Epcot Centre in Florida depects Jerusalem as the centre of Israel. Jerusalem is an illegally occupied city according to international law and can never be the capitol of Israel," and so on. These are a few examples of how Ford Foundation money is used.
 
However, Ford has made grants, amounting to several million dollars, to Israeli and American Jewish peace organizations. For example, Ford gave $250,000 to Rabbis for Human Rights, for "rabbinically based" educations efforts "supporting human rights policies by Israel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, commented to the effect that their "experience with Ford has been very positive." However, he also said warily, "I would like to think the goals of the Ford Foundation do not include anti-Semitism." Jewish delegates to the UN Conference on World Racism might not agree.
 
Ford has also funded the New Israel Fund since 1988. They recently announced an award of  $20 million to the New Israel Fund. On their Web site, www.nif.org,  The New Israel Fund announces several laudable programs. One is "Oggen: Association for the Eradication of Corruption in the Business and Public Sectors in Israel." The stated goal of this program is "to eliminate corruption in Israel's business and public sectors." The goal of another program is "to advance the status of Arab women; and to develop leadership among Arab women on a wide range of public issues." Yet Arabs in Israel currently have more rights and freedoms than Arab citizens of almost any other country.  Arabs in Israel certainly have more rights and freedoms than Jews have in Arab countries. Why is it that Israel must change? Why do we need a "New Israel"? What has Ford done to improve the lives of Jews in other Middle Eastern countries? The cessation of terrorist violence and the acceptance of  Israel by Palestinian Arabs will do more to advance the rights of Arab men and women than monetary awards and grants.
 
However, on September 24, 2001, President Bush released Executive Order 13224, an Executive Order on Terrorist Financing; "Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions With Persons Who Commit, Threaten to Commit, or Support Terrorism." It states in part, "I also find that because of the pervasiveness and expansiveness of the financial foundation of foreign terrorists, financial sanctions may be appropriate for those foreign persons that support or otherwise associate with these foreign terrorists." Pursuant to this order in June 2003, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) informed U.S. tax-exempt organizations that if they partnered with Palestinian NGO's, those NGO's would be required to sign a Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing. This statement vows that no funds ever have been given or ever will be given to terrorist groups.
 
What was the response of recipient Palestinian NGO's?
 
Outrage. A short time ago, Al Mezan's director remarked to the effect  that the requirement is illegal, should be boycotted, and a list of any institutions signing the Certification should be published. Another PNGO member stated to the effect that there should be no conditions attached to funds receive by the Palestinian NGO's. Yet another PNGO member stated, "Ford does not make us sign this agreement." If funds received by PNGO, from Ford Foundation and other charities, are not used for terrorist activity, then why the outrage? This question seems self-evident. Certainly, the Ford Foundation has no vested interest in financing international terrorism, but it must make a far better accounting of where its funds are going -- or face the consequences.



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