The Advocacy Project (AP) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 1998 “to help advocates who are working on the front lines for social justice, peace and human rights” in behalf of “marginalized communities.” “Particularly drawn to those that are despised and friendless,” and to groups and campaigns that are “largely bypassed or ignored by aid donors,” AP gives “special attention to helping NGOs and networks become self-sufficient in the use of information and communications technologies.”
As its first project in 1998, AP produced voluminous literature promoting the creation of an International Criminal Court. In 1999, AP issued reports from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights‘ executive committee meeting, Amnesty International’s conference on human-rights defenders, and a special session of the International Coalition to Ban Landmines. Also in its early years, AP reported from Kosovo and Bosnia (both of which had recently been ravaged by war), and worked with the NGO Committee on UNICEF to produce a printed daily paper, newsletter, and website in 2001-02. Between 1999 and 2003, AP staffers profiled a series of civil-society campaigns that sought, respectively, to: respond to Hurricane Mitch in Honduras (1999); call the Khmer Rouge to account for its atrocities in Cambodia (2000); curb the trafficking of Nigerian sex workers to Italy (2000); help indigenous activists sue the Texaco Corporation for pollution in the Amazon Rainforest (2002); build a network of young AIDS activists in Africa; and campaign for justice for survivors of the 1982 Chixoy massacres in Guatemala.
The Advocacy Project forms what it calls “partnerships” with organizations whose objectives are compatible with its own. Specifically, AP identifies these as groups that are:
AP typically assigns one of its volunteer “Peace Fellows” to help each of its partner organizations “tell its story through a website, social media, video, photos and advocacy quilts.” From 2003-15, some 274 individuals from 61 university programs served AP in this capacity.
Within each community that AP gets involved with, the organization tries to identify “gifted advocates” who seem to possess the talents necessary to “mobilize large numbers of people to make the case for real change.”
Notwithstanding its apolitical self-description, the Advocacy Project has a strongly anti-Israel ideology and agenda that is reflected in its reports. This became particularly apparent during the Second Palestinian Intifada (2000-05), when AP sought to “preserve respect for [the] human rights” of Palestinians who were allegedly being besieged by Israel. Since then, articles on the AP website have frequently distorted facts and drawn a moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorism and Israeli counter-terror measures, portraying the Jewish state as an “occupier” that practices “apartheid” and is infested with “racism.” In one 2003 report, for example, AP said that “nothing” its analysts had seen in such troubled regions as “Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, and Guatemala … prepared us for what [Israeli transgressions] we saw in Palestine.” Another article from approximately that same time period accused Israelis of killing “unarmed Palestinian protesters”; employing an “indiscriminate” and “vengeful” strategy of “closure—cutting off Palestinian communities” from vital resources and creating “Bantusian areas”; and inflicting damage and destruction on Palestinian communities to an extent “completely disproportionate to whatever threat exists.” By AP’s calculus, Israel’s actions were “aimed at crushing the spirit of the Palestinian people” and “guaranteed to provoke desperate acts of retaliation.” “If there is terrorism,” said the organization, “it certainly comes from both sides.”
NGO Monitor points out that while the Advocacy Project has occasionally criticized the Palestinian Authority for its “authoritarian and often corrupt” political leadership, AP generally fails to hold that leadership accountable for the Palestinians’ “humanitarian suffering and the terrorism that has forced Israel to respond in self-defense…. Instead [AP prefers] to talk of ‘Bantusization’ and an ‘unending occupation.’”
In a number of blog posts on the Advocacy Project website, AP Fellow Nur Arafeh has accused Israel of: engaging in “racist discourse,” promoting the “institutionalization of racist representations of Palestinians,” “brainwashing” Israeli children, and “dehumaniz[ing] Palestinians.” In a similar spirit, AP Fellow Nikki Hodgson claims that “celebrating Israel for its fight to promote justice, freedom, faith, and ‘human responsibility’ is simply laughable.”
In 2014, AP sponsored a fellowship focused on “helping the Alternative Information Center [AIC] to research cooperation between peace activists on both sides of the Wall” (i.e., the Separation Barrier in the West Bank). But as NGO Monitor notes, AIC routinely “accuses Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ minimizes actions of convicted terrorists, and its co-founder … has maintained that ‘one has to unequivocally reject the very idea (and existence) of a Jewish state, whatever will be its borders.”
AP is funded by numerous corporations, foundations, organizations, governments, and individuals. Among these funders are: Amnesty International (Holland and Ithaca, NY), the Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Coalition for an International Criminal Court, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, George Soros‘s Open Society Institute, and UNICEF. To view a list of additional supporters of AP, click here.