A few weeks ago ACOM sent a formal letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfonso Dastis, in which we detailed hostile activities against Israel carried out by his ministry. These initiatives included the financing of projects of Spanish associations that seek the destruction of the Jewish State and that at the same time are linked with Palestine terrorist organisations.
We also questioned the ministry’s support for the agenda of the Arabic House or UNRWA Spain who, under a cultural or humanitarian cover, promote anti-Semite discrimination and the glorification of violence.
On the other hand, we also expressed our surprise and concern because the Sefarad-Israel Centre (institution that depends on his ministry) denied the leader of the Israeli opposition a space for a public event during his visit to our country.
The response of the ministry has been to remind us of the exemplary commitment of the Government of Spain in its fight against terrorism and its official position of absolute rejection of the discriminatory movement BDS. ACOM shares this rejection but insists on denouncing the inconsistency between the declarations of the ministry and its actions: either the Minister Dastis wants us to obviate the evidence of the harassment financed against a friendly state and ally or this answer proves the absolute lack of control of the minister over the policies applied by the ministry and his subordinates. So, beyond any vacuous gesture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must activate all the resources that the Government has to stop the industry of anti-Israeli hate that, showered with millionaire subsidies year after year, feeds the anti-system radicals of the orbit of Podemos and places the Spanish Jewish minority on the firing line of the harassment and violence.
Because of its interest we reproduce the formal letter sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the response of the Minister’s Cabinet.
Among the many functions of the Ministry that you direct is the administration of funds appointed to international solidarity, many of them through the Spanish Agency of Cooperation and Development – AECID.
This budget in no case must benefit anti-Semite groups that glorify terrorism or incite to finish violently with a democratic state and friend as is Israel. Neither should it benefit projects that, promoted by these groups, and behind the mask of supposed humanitarian ends, favour the boycott or the unconstitutional discrimination of companies or persons because of their national origin, their religion, their ethnicity or their political convictions.
It is a serious responsibility of the donors to make sure that their aid cannot end up in the hands of Spanish or foreign organisations that sympathise or collaborate with terrorist groups thus declared by the EU or, even worse, that the institutional aid ends up financing the structure of armed groups, when they are used as local partners for projects sponsored by our public funds.
The recent visit to Spain of the ex-minister, leader of the centrist opposition in the Israeli Parliament and President of the Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, precisely had the objective of presenting a report on this issue elaborated by ACOM and NGO Monitor, organisation of international reference in the field of NGOs. The data and conclusions of the report cannot be more worrying: Spanish and Arabic organisations, with an agenda that is clearly delegitimising and hostile against the Jewish State, are the beneficiaries of important subsidies for projects with funds of Spanish taxpayers.
During his visit Mr Lapid met with the Secretary of State of your ministry, Ildefonso Castro, and informed him of this network of Spanish non-governmental organisations that regularly receive disproportionate amounts from the State (Central Government and regional and local administrations): more than five million Euros just in 2015. Mr Lapid detailed, in a letter to you, specific cases in which this aid was used for activities of groups closely related to terrorism. This situation demands an immediate change in the policy of your ministry, the application of a true prior diligence in the selection of beneficiaries and the monitoring of projects and in general of the current legislation in matters of apology for terrorism and collaboration with armed groups. We need an urgent legal development in matters of cooperation with development of all the levels of the state that makes these groups ineligible for those subsidies. These actions must include associations that, like UNRWA Spain, and again under a supposedly humanitarian cover, promote anti-Israeli hate and have numerous links with incitement groups.
Additionally, each and every one of these non-governmental organisations actively supports the economic and political war against Israel through the BDS campaign (boycott, divestment and sanctions). It is incomprehensible that given the manifest position of your department against boycotts in general, and the BDS in particular, BDS groups find a platform in acts of institutions that, like the Arabic House, are participated by the Ministry and have substantial public subsidies that are also used to attack Israel and promote hate libels. Faced with this, we call your attention to the fact that the Centro Sefarad, also participated by your ministry, refused to host an event of Mr Lapid, a democratic representative of the State of Israel, who is fit to be received in Parliament by your own Secretary of Sate and in the Jewish Community of Madrid, but not in that entity. There is something asymmetrical in the parameters of the civil servants of your ministry that we think should be revised.
It is not only the policy of your ministry to reject the proposals of the BDS, it is also legal doctrine in Spain. It is worth remembering that institutional boycotts promoted by these organisations have been declared illegal in Spain on twelve occasions, both by ordinary courts and by higher ones. Also, the Partido Popular itself approved in its recent ordinary conference the rejection of the BDS campaign in its ruling principles. For all of this we take the liberty of suggesting that you consider promoting legislation that prevents Spanish local administrations from approving discriminatory motions that also affect competencies exclusive of your ministry. It does not seem reasonable that it has to be private organisations like ours, and not the state itself, who have to take legal action against these excesses.
Meanwhile, it will continue to be profoundly disappointing that the actions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation do not correspond with its policies and statements. In a recent case it was your own parliamentary advisor who approved the final text of a non-legislative motion of the parliamentary group of Podemos in the Spanish Parliament, which was approved and seems to legitimise the use of the boycott against Israel or the discriminatory and pro-violence BDS movement.
The BDS against Israel is a serious threat, not only because it attacks an ally of Spain from sectarianism, the glorification of terrorism and the rejection of the two state solution, but also because with its criminalising rhetoric of all those who support Israel in Spain, and by extension the Jewish minority in our country, it puts all this community in the firing line of terrorism. We hope you consider very seriously this responsibility in which, actively and passively, your ministry incurs and the financing it provides.
For all of this we request of you a meeting as soon as possible to comment specific and urgent actions that can be taken to correct these recurring situations.
President of ACOM
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Madrid, 21 July 2017
Dear Mr Mas,
On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation I thank you for your email of 10 July 2017 which has been read with great interest.
I think you will agree with me when I say that the commitment of Spain in the fight against terrorism has been constant and exemplary. Due to its own history, its advanced legal regime and rule of law and its international leadership in the matter any minimal link between the public policies of Spain with any terrorist organisation or any one related is frankly unthinkable. Public financing of the Spanish Government is aimed at projects of cooperation and at organisations that execute it, which also are always legal organisations according to local legislation.
Spanish legislation in no case allows the financing of groups defined as terrorist groups in regulations of the European Union. Spain not only follows but also promotes this type of international instruments.
Furthermore, in relation with the BDS movement the official and public position of the Spanish Government is of absolute rejection.
I take this opportunity to send you my best wishes.