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US taxpayer-funded Palestinian groups introduced kids to terrorists, praised killers of Israelis and more watchdog says

Palestinians aim projectiles at Israeli soldiers guarding the border fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip, May 11, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
June 10, 2021

Millions in U.S. taxpayer dollars went to Palestinian groups that introduced children to convicted terrorists and treated those convicted terrorists as role models, according to a new report by an Israeli watchdog organization.

The report, released Wednesday by NGO Monitor, states that funds sent by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) ended up with sub-grantees who hosted programs glorifying convicted terrorists and making negative portrayals of Israel.

The NGO Monitor report states, “A number of USAID sub-grantees ran programs that introduced children to convicted terrorists, presented convicted terrorists as role models, and publicly demonstrated support for terrorists and terrorist organizations.”

The report goes through a number of different organizations with troubling ties to Palestinian extremist groups. One group the report listed, Juzoor for Health and Social Development, received $2.13 million from 2013 to 2017 as a sub-grantee of the “Palestinian Health Capacity Project,” $600,000 from 2019 to 2020 as a subgrantee of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), for the Envision Gaza 2020 project and $3.9 million from 2016 to 2019 as a sub-grantee of International Medical Corps for Gaza 2020 Health Matters.

“Both prior to and during the grant period, Juzoor ran a program that
arranged meetings between teenagers and convicted Palestinian terrorists,” the NGO Monitor report states. “In addition its staff members glorified violence against Israelis.”

Specifically, Juzoor provided funds to a Jerusalem Youth Parliament (JYP). In September of 2014, JYP “invited Rasem Abidat, a senior [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] member, to speak at the camp’s exhibition event.” A member of the Marxist secular Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Abidat was sentenced in a Jerusalem court in 2001 to two years in prison and 16 months probation for supplying forged Israeli identity cards to PFLP members to infiltrate Israel.

During the September 2014 event, “Abidat praised the program and said that the exhibition “emphasizes the need to stay devoted and stubborn and persist on our land, in our nation and in our city Jerusalem, which confronts Israelization and Judaization.”

While JYP was receiving USAID funds through Juzoor, JYP’s coordinator Mosab Abbas also shared posts on social media, praising “Uday and
Ghassan Abu Jamal, who murdered five Israelis in November
2014 assault on a Jerusalem synagogue.”

The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has also received USAID funds. CRS is set to receive about $24.5 million in USAID from 2016 to 2022. NGO Monitor reported CRS had known funding interactions with groups that praised Palestinian terrorists, including the Save Youth Future Society and El-Amal Rehabilitation Society-Rafah.

The El-Amal Rehabilitation Society-Rafah received about $76,000 from CRS in 2016, and in 2019 the El-Amal Rehabilitation Society-Rafah hosted an event in which Palestinian children portrayed Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. One child photographed in an Israeli military uniform held a toy gun to another child’s head as part of the group’s event.

The Save Youth Future Society received about $173,000 from the CRS in 2016. In 2013, the Save Youth Future Society “celebrated the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, writing, ‘Congratulations for the prisoners of freedom. Freedom,and we will be happy when all our brave prisoners have freedom.'” NGO Monitor noted those Palestinian prisoners had all been convicted of murdering Israelis.

On its website, NGO Monitor offered recommendations for addressing the problem of USAID funds going to groups that praise terrorists.

“Before approving grantees, USAID must conduct a thorough review of the websites and social media accounts of potential partners, including sub-grantees,” the group states. “This material should be reviewed to ensure that potential grantees are not tied to terrorist organizations, do not espouse or glorify violence, and do not promote antisemitic tropes and rhetoric.”

The NGO Monitor report comes after a March report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found “gaps in compliance for the vetting” that USAID sub-grantees were meeting antiterrorism requirements. The GAO said, “USAID provided pre-award training to prime awardees on antiterrorism requirements for subawards, but did not verify that awardees had procedures to comply with the requirements.”

A January report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) found that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), another agency dedicated to providing relief to Palestinians, had distributed educational materials that referred to Israel as “The enemy,” glorified “jihad” and “martyr” and repeated the disputed claim that Israeli “Zionists” was responsible for a 1969 arson attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. stopped funding for the UNRWA. In one of his first acts after taking office, President Joe Biden restored U.S. funding for the UNRWA.