This is a familiar theme, and something that I came across a few years ago when I came across a website (now removed) that was operating under the auspices of the Finnish Lutheran Church.
Finland’s Ministry for “Foreign Affairs Development Cooperation” (FDC) financed –in part through EU money– funded programs through the “Funds for Local Cooperation (FLC), such as the Turku Diakonia vocational college’s TUTKA, “Media Education in Palestine” project, in cooperation with the University of Bethlehem, Radio Bethlehem and Radio Café. All three organizational programs mentioned were on the receiving end of EU funding from the FDC.
In 2005 FDC approved the disbursement of over €600 million ($735.6m) for development projects and organizations around the world. The Palestinian administered areas since 2000, have received close to €28 million ($34m) in bilateral funds from the FDC, and overall have been in the top sixteen recipients of Finnish development funding.
The purpose of the project was to help support the Palestinian students’ development in the learning of modern “virtual” media skills. The website produced by TUTKA Finnish media students working with the Palestinians in Bethlehem however, reflected the type of seriously one sided and overtly biased points of view being expressed in traditional anti-Israel political activism.
Though the link to the website “Tunnelmia Palestiinasta” / The Situation From Palestine” has since been removed from the main TUTKA website, it was still however viewable if the URL was known, but since then has been removed entirely. The site was not only overtly biased, but was intentionally designed to demonize Israel, using misinformation, omission of facts and outright falsification of the historical record.
Here is what Gerstenfeld has to say about his recent findings:
The European Union and its member countries have been subsidizing various opponents of Israel for many years. A study, just published by the Dutch Center for Documentation and Information on Israel contains perhaps the most detailed investigation of one such case.
A group called United Civilians for Peace is a joint venture of five Dutch NGOs. Fifty to 90% of their budgets are funded by the Dutch government and the European Union. A sixth partner left UCP in view of its extreme anti-Israeli activities.
UCP – among other things – publishes research about “Dutch economic links in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories.”
Journalist Joost de Haas, writing in the Dutch Telegraaf summed up the 50-plus page report by the Dutch Center for Documentation saying: “A peace organization financed with taxpayers money is guided by the Palestinian terror organization Hamas and supports the Iranian atom bomb.”
Another recipient of FDC funding is a branch of the Finnish Lutheran Church, Kirkon Ulkomaanapu. From here on it will be referred to as the FCA. In 2005, the budget of the FCA received from the Finnish Foreign Ministry 9.2 million Euros, which made up 38.1% of its fiscal budget for that year.
The Finnish FCA is responsible for the distribution of funds it receives from the Finnish state, for humanitarian work in various trouble spots around the world. A recipient of that funding is the international religious organization World Council of Churches’ program ‘Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
Here we see Finnish Church activist Heidi Kumpulainen (pictured on the left) out in the open campaigning against Israel’s security fence that has saved thousands of lives on both sides of it.
Clearly the participation of volunteer aid worker Heidi Kumpulainen in a demonstration against Israel’s anti-terrorist barrier directly conflicts with the FCA’s own stated guidelines for the activities of their representatives in the field. By participating in a political demonstration, Ms.Kumpulainen crossed the line of church representative to that of a political activist.