Thursday, April 11, 2013

Miftah blood libel update

It has been over two weeks since Miftah published its blood libel in Arabic, and it still has refused to apologize in that same language to those who read it. Indeed, the Arabic readers can still read Miftah's attack on me, calling my reporting a "smear campaign" (even its English attack on me remains on its site, even after its belated English apology.)

Since then, the story continues on.

American Thinker mentioned it, noting that Miftah's founder Hanan Ashrawi was hardly as moderate as she represents herself to the West.

In spite of her self-portrait as a "moderate," Ashrawi has been an exponent of some of the main tenets of the familiar Palestinian narrative. She was the highly articulate official spokesperson of the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Process, 1991-1993. At the United Nations Durban I Conference on August 28, 2001 she said, "I represent a narrative of exclusion, denial, racism, and national victimization." She spoke of her heavy heart "leaving behind a nation in captivity held hostage to an ongoing Nakba, as the most intricate and pervasive expression of persistent colonialism, apartheid, racism, and victimization." Israeli settlements, she declared, leads to "ethnic cleansing" in the West Bank.

However, without mentioning me, it says:
The criticism of the article in Miftah and consequent reluctant "apology" by the website is significant. It illustrates that a rapid response by independent and courageous media to inaccurate statements and prejudiced accusations can and sometimes does result in rectifying them and shaming the accusers.

The Jerusalem Post belatedly reported on the issue today, concentrating on the NGOs that fund Miftah:
Writers for MIFTAH – a nonprofit founded in 1998 by Hanan Ashrawi, a vocal advocate for the Palestinian cause who is well regarded by Western officials – resurfaced a centuries-old smear over the Passover holiday on their Arabic website that accuses Jews of using Christian blood in the preparation of Passover matza.

Invocation of the blood libel shocked Jewish groups after it was picked up in English by a blog called the Elder of Ziyon.

The collective pressure from these groups over several days was apparently enough to force a retraction from MIFTAH – only after the nonprofit initially refused to apologize.

But the true shock has come from MIFTAH’s benefactors, who have struggled to distance their financial support over several years from the organization’s more extremist activities.

The governments of Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, and Norway, among other EU members, have provided funding for MIFTAH at least through 2011, according to NGO Monitor, which tracks the financing of major nongovernmental organizations.

And the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is funded through an act of US Congress, has provided MIFTAH with nearly $180,000 between 2007 and 2012.

“The whole funding process is very cloudy – it’s not very transparent at all,” said Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “The NED didn’t do their due diligence.

Hanan Ashrawi was able to sell [MIFTAH’s] activities as pro-peace and pro-civil society, and they didn’t look to see what kind of organization they’re running. It was probably based more than anything on personal connections, which is obviously a problem.”

Made aware of these concerns, the NED told The Jerusalem Post that its financial support for MIFTAH was directed toward its young leaders program, and was never directed toward its website operations.

NED’s spokesman noted that additional funding for MIFTAH was not granted this year by the NED board of directors.

But when asked how the NED tracked its funding as earmarked for youth programs, as opposed to its website operations, they had no additional comment.
(I do not understand why JPost uses all-caps for Miftah. It is not an English acronym.)

NGO Monitor revisited the issue today as well, adding the responses from three of the Miftah's funders: NED, UNESCO and Oxfam.

A couple of German media outlets also covered the story, concentrating on the funding of Miftah by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Heinrich Boell Stiftung German organizations.

So far, I have not seen any responses from them, nor from the governments of Ireland, Norway, Austria or any of the other funders of Miftah. You can see their email addresses and Twitter accounts at the end of http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2013/03/why-cant-hanan-ashrawis-miftah.htmlthis post.