Criticism in Denmark against DanChurchAid: Why do you invite a terrorist to Denmark and why do you support jew-haters, are just two of the charges against DCA.

DanChurchAid is these days at the receiving end of criticism for two matters linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict.It will soon be 50 years since the Six-Day War took place and territories became occupied. That is why we are co-organizers of two debates.

©Søren Ingvard Nielsen
Café Nutid in DCA HQ in Nørregade, Copenhagen

One will be in Nutid (the café in HQ Nørregade run by DCA’s youth organisation) Wednesday evening and a debate in Politiken’s House Thursday – and that we arrange a number of dialogues between our visitors and Danish politicians.
Here is some background information and our answers:

Case 1; The charge of inviting a terrorist

Wednesday evening our youth organisation will host a debate in NU in Nørregade.
Present will be Hagai El Ad, president of the Israeli human rights organisation Btselem and DCA-partner and Shawan Jabarin, president of Al Haq, which is among Palestine’s most respected human rights organisations. He is not a DCA-partner.
The critisism is mainly directed towards Shawan Jabarin.
“DanChurchAid is inviting a Palestinian terrorist to Denmark” is among the posts on social media.
Our answer is:
  • Jabrin was in prison for 9 months back in the 1980’s accused of helping two members of the organisation PFLP to travel for a training.
  • Jabrin denies any involvement with PFLP and states that he has had no contact with them since his imprisonment. He condemns the use of violence.
  • We believe he has served his time in prison
  • We do not think it is possible to seek dialogue and find solutions if you choose not to speak to people like Jabarin.
  • As a human rights advocate Jabarin was detained by the authorities several times and prevented from travelling without being given a reason. Until recently Jabarin has been banned from travel given unspecified accusations that he is still an active member of PFLP (the evidence to support this has never been published or even presented to his lawyer, Michael Sfard). Amnesty International has named him the first prisoner of conscience in the conflict.
  • In the past years, Jabarin has received a string of distinguished prizes for his human rights work and important positions of trust in international organisations. As well as being president of Al Haq, Jabarin is a member of Human Rights Watch Advisory Board for the Middle East and recently chosen for General Secretary of The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Together with Btselem, Al Haq received the freedom prize from the PL-Foundation in 2011.
  • Jabarin is known to speak up about breach of human rights to PA (Palestinian Authorities) as well as HAMAS (Gaza) and the Israeli Authorities.
  • Jabarin is considered one of the best-qualified Palestinian human rights representatives.
  • Moreover, DanChurchAid has invited a Palestinian human rights advocate as well as an Israeli human rights advocate to the debate in NU – and for a chance to meet and speak to Danish politicians at the Parliament.
  • Jabarin had already travelled to Europe – DanChurchAid has paid for the trip to Copenhagen.
  • To ensure peace and order at the debate, members of DCA’s Senior Management will take part – and we have hired security.

Case 2; The charge that we are supporting jew-haters from Badil

After pressure on the Danish government for supporting organisations which Israel do not think should receive support, there is now focus on Denmark’s support to the organisation Badil, supported by Denmark as well as DCA.The criticism from Søren Espersen from The Danish People’s Party has been that we are supporting an organisation, which hates Jews and wants to eradicate Israel.The ammunition for this has chiefly been two drawings. One from 2010 and another from 2015.
Here are our answers:
1. Why do you support Badil every year with 300.000 DKK?
  • 1. We support Badil because Badil plays a crucial role in the documentation and prevention of violation of the humanitarian law of nations, which could have great humanitarian consequences. Especially expulsion and forced relocation of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Badil is strong in this field and has among other things a special advisory status in relevant UN sections.
  • 2. Our support is ear marked – meaning that we do not support the specific work concerning the rights for refugees from 1948, among these the right to return. This does not mean that we will not be keeping an eye on the work, making sure it is within the relevant UN resolutions, human rights and the humanitarian international law.
2. What does being partner with Badil, who has published anti-Semitic drawings and formerly advocated for a one-state solution, mean to you?
  • 1. We believe that a critical and open dialogue is the way forward – this is at the core of the way we work with our partners. And as with other Palestinian and Israeli partners the dialogue we have with Badil is supporting them in their work and making sure that it is in accordance with human rights, the humanitarian international law and fundamental democratic principles.
  • 2. This also includes these examples – the rights for refugees and a solution for the conflict. The UN recognizes rights for refugees, including the principle of “the right to return”. There are a number of suggestions as to how a peace agreement could and should be put together. We do not interfere with Badil which solution they believe in and advocate for. Badil has the freedom to express their own opinion. It would become a problem for us if a partner promotes a solution which would bend the principles for human rights for either the Israelis or the Palestinians.
  • 3. If we become familiar with something that is not within these principles – that would be a red line. And we will bring this up for discussion. This occured in 2010, when Badil published a drawing. As is well-known we discussed this with other donors – and Badil changed their praxis. The other drawing – the one from 2015 – was just submitted for a competition and as such is not a Badil product and was not published by Badil.
  • 4. We believe that our – at times – critical cooperation with our partners contribute to building strong civil societies in both Palestine and Israel. A strong civil society is, and will always be, fundamental to achieving sustainable and rights-based peace.
3. What responsibility do you have towards your donors if you subsequently place the resources in anti-democratic organisations?
  • 1. When you work in developing countries, we are rarely dealing with liberal democracies, as we know them from Denmark. It is a long haul in all countries to build up democratic institutions and appreciation of democratic principles. And quite often this work is done in conflict-affected areas where particularly the civil society is under heavy political pressure. It is in areas like these we strive to locate the most promising partners. And in Badil we are dealing with an organisation with consulting status in the UN.
  • 2. What we need to be – and are - vigilant of is if Badil’s work with refugees’s rights as well as their other work is in accordance with the humanitarian international law human rights and democratic principles. And if our attention is drawn to the fact that something is not right, we will deal with it. We have done this before and we will continue to do this. To build up democratic institutions – both in civil societies and on state level – takes time and requires patience.
  • 3. Furthermore, we of course meet the demands by Danida, other donors and ourselves for full transparency, reporting and monitoring