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Minister slams aid report for 'anti-Israel' bias

TT/The Local/dl · 8 Nov 2011, 08:03

Published: 08 Nov 2011 08:03 GMT+01:00

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The Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS) received 700,000 kronor ($106,000) to produce a report on the Middle East conflict.

The money was paid out by Forum Syd, a democracy and rights organisation hired by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to provide the agency with information on the issue.

But the report has prompted criticism from Swedish foreign aid minister Gunilla Carlsson over concerns about a clear anti-Israel bias.

“There are views here which take a one-sided perspective on a horrific conflict,” she told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

“One party is demonized and they take a clear stance and are trying to affect public opinion. But that's not something taxpayer money should be used for. Sida's mission is to ensure that all material is informative and knowledgeable when it comes to foreign aid, but in some cases that hasn't worked.”

The chair of Forum Syd, Green Party MP Bodil Ceballos, shot back at Carlsson, accusing her of ministerial meddling in what she argued was an attempt to muzzle the views of non-government organizations.

“It can't be only the government's or the foreign ministry's view of foreign aid work that should be conveyed; even non-government organizations need to have a voice,” she told the paper, adding that she thinks the government has gone too far in its attempts to control Sida.

However, she believes it should be made clear that Sida and Forum Syd, while funding the report, aren't responsible for its contents.

Story continues below…

A spokesperon for Sida admitted that the report could have been a bit more balanced.

The agency has promised to engage in a dialogue with Forum Syd about the issue, but has no plans to request that PGS return the money it received to produce the report.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:33 November 8, 2011 by Iraniboy
Yes! This is the only concern in Israeli-Palestinian conflict!!!

How the hell an anti Israeli or an anti Palestinian report can change anything when tens of UNSC resolutions are ignored by Israel and Gunillah is not there to say anything!
08:54 November 8, 2011 by Kevin Harris
An organisation entitled The Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden was never going to produce an unbiased report. But the fault doesn't lie with them, it lies with the person who selected them to write the report at taxpayers' expense. And that was Green Party MP Bodil Ceballos. The government should send Bodil a 700 000 crown invoice, and maybe she will be a little more careful with taxpayers' money next time.
09:34 November 8, 2011 by blursd
I'm still waiting for the government financed report entitled, "The Failure of Multiculturalism in the Western World" by the Klu Klux Klan Association of Sweden.

I wonder what their findings will be ...!!! :-O
09:56 November 8, 2011 by RobinHood
Upcoming unbiased reports commissoned by Ms Ceballos of the Greens with taxpayers money include:

Global Warming - Oh My God We're All Going To Die

How Capitalism Will Destroy The World

Windmills - The Only Option

The Moderates - Right Wing Nazi Scum

Bankers - May They Rot In Hell!

Sadly the report:

Investigation into idiot MP Wasting Taxpayers Money Commissioning Useless Report had to be abandoned due to lack of funding.
10:16 November 8, 2011 by bourgeoisieboheme
I agree with Kevin Harris, the fault lies with the person who selected that "organization" to produce a report. Having been a consultant I'm quite surprised at the large amount paid for such a report. I'm more concerned there might be some conflict of interest in the government for the selection and funding of this report.
10:22 November 8, 2011 by Matthew6
Wouldn't it be a real waste of public spending if the only research that received public funding was that which was guaranteed to not stir any feathers by calling a spade a spade as and such cause no political recommendations? Furthermore if politically impotent research is what tax payers want, I really wonder how a report on, say, Isreali support for UN resolutions and international law might avoid being 'anti-Isreali'..
10:46 November 8, 2011 by olive_tree
Damn, did they mention the killing of 1500 Palestinians in 21 days? or the piracy of Ship To Gaza boats? UN resolutions 149 and 242 ?This is too biased indeed
10:53 November 8, 2011 by RobinHood

You have missed the point. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) asked Forum Syd to provide them with unbiased information in report form, they wanted to use when making important decisions about aid to Palestine. They got back a useless pile of propaganda entitled "Colonialism and apartheid - Israel's occupation of Palestine", written by a pro-Palestinian NGO. I'm sure the Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden's report is jolly interesting, but it's not what Sida asked for or paid for, and that's 700,000 crowns of taxpayer's money down the drain.

Now the Sida is going to have to commission a new report (hopefully done properly) that will bring the taxpayer's bill to over a million.

If a government department wants the Palestinian's view of things, I'm sure the Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden will be one of the first groups they ask to write it. As you say, it's always nice to know how different sides are thinking; but that was not the purpose of this exercise.
11:21 November 8, 2011 by engagebrain
for 700 000 SEK to write up your prejudices is a waste - I guess it could have been done for a tenth of the price - what did they actually spend the money on ?

A report with some novel suggestions about how to solve the Israel/Palestine mess would be worthmore 700 000.

A good start would be for each side to understand that the other side's position, that both groups have contributed to the problem and that short of killing millions of people the other side is not going to vanish.
11:50 November 8, 2011 by Matthew6

Sure but my point here is asking exactly what was biased: the choice by Forum Syd in their contract of the research, or the research itself?

Clearly the majority of an allocation of funding to produce research for policy making should not go to an NGO with clearly vested interests. I think there are certainly grounds to argue that smaller portions of such funding could be used in this way but I assume thats not what happened here and Forum Syd actually spend big on a biased NGO, as you say.

However the content of the research is another matter. Research funded or undertaken by lobby groups can still be completely "informative and knowledgable when it comes to foreign aid" but it appears SvDs intent is to trash not only Forum Syd's disastrous contracting practice but also the (miss-funded) research itself.

So while they rightly point out that bias in funding is not on, suggesting that policy-making research should never bias one side in a conflict (especially in a siege) is way beyond the mark, as is climbing this research is not 'informed and knowledgable' and indeed useful to policy making as the view of an involved (yes-biased) NGO.
02:52 November 9, 2011 by sleezypornorangutang
It would be nice to see this report.

How about a "read here" -link in such cases?

It can't be more psycho than whatever zionist popaganda in the net. Weird stuff, something seriously wrong in some peoples heads.
15:18 November 11, 2011 by bcterry
It can't be more psycho than whatever zionist popaganda in the net. Weird stuff, something seriously wrong in some peoples heads. "

There is something seriously wrong in some peoples heads, just read the hamas charter.

It just doesn't get any more "psycho" then that.
18:27 November 11, 2011 by Mikael Grut
I am pleased if the Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS) has written a "one-sided" report on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Bishop Tutu said that "If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, then you have already taken the side of injustice". If you wrote a report about for example the Nazi Party's treatment of the Jews, should you then be even-handed? For God's sake, now the Palestinians are the victims, they have already lost about 80% of their country, surely all righteous people must side with them.
18:46 November 12, 2011 by matereo
Here we go again... how can this be a discussion about multiculturalism??? Multiculturalism, learning how to handle it and how to live it is the only sollution in the long term regarding conflicts in every country. Generally Gunilla and i never agree, but i think the least needed in this and any conflict similar is bias and support for any of the sides demagogues.
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