Grassroots International (GRI)

Grassroots International (GRI)


* Assets: $1,524,141 (2016)
* Grants Received: $4,431,390 (2016)
* Grants Awarded: $2,850,172 (2016)

Grassroots International (GRI) defines itself as a “human rights and development organization that channels funds to small community groups around the world that are working for peace and social justice.” Since its founding in 1983, Grassroots has disbursed $20 million to its partner organizations and engaged in what it characterizes as “campaigns for positions on equality, development, independence, and self-reliance.”

The GRI website states, “Grassroots International was born out of a commitment to justice for Palestinians. In the nearly two decades since then, the cause of Palestinian rights remains central to GRI and its supporters.” In 2001, GRI formed a partnership with the Advocacy Project (AP), an NGO which draws a moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorism and Israeli counter-terror measures, and which accuses Israel of practicing “apartheid” and “racism.”

In her 1999 book Hell to Pay, the late Susan Olson wrote that GRI has “had direct ties to the PLO” (Yasser Arafat‘s Palestine Liberation Organization). Added Olson, “Hillary [Clinton] chaired the New World Foundation from 1982 to 1988, during which time she awarded $15,000 to Grassroots International, which funneled the grant money to the Union of Palestinian Working Women’s Committees and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, both branches of the [PLO].”

In 2004, GRI was a signatory — along with more than 200 other leftist groups — to a letter exhorting members of the U.S. Senate to oppose Israel’s construction of an anti-terrorist security fence in the West Bank, a barrier that GRI characterizes as an illegal “apartheid wall.”

Grassroots International was a signatory to a May 30, 2000 document denouncing globalization and the World Trade Organization (WTO). GRI is a member of OneWorld Network, an umbrella of more than 1,500 leftist groups that seek “to promote sustainable development, social justice, and human rights.” Grassroots is also a member organization of the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG), a network of more than six-dozen grantmakers dedicated to funding leftist groups and causes.

GRI opposes what it calls “the so-called ‘war on terrorism’” which has “sacrifice[d] our cherished civil liberties in the tragically ironic quest to eliminate ‘enemies of democracy and our way of life.’” It is a member organization of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition led by Leslie Cagan, a longtime committed socialist who aligns her politics with those of Fidel Castro‘s Communist Cuba.

Grassroots International was founded by Dan Connell, a lecturer in journalism and African politics at Simmons College, Boston and a two-time MacArthur Foundation grantee. GRI’s Board of Advisors includes Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights and former President of the National Lawyers Guild; socialist professor Dessima Williams; and the “antiracist essayist” Tim Wise.

The Executive Director of GRI is Nikhil Aziz, a contributor to RightWeb who, in a December 2003 article he co-wrote with Chip Berlet (of the National Lawyers Guild and the Southern Poverty Law Center), condemned “Christian evangelical rightists” who are distinguished by “their unqualified support for Israel and their Islamophobic opposition to Palestinian self-determination.” Aziz ascribed the U.S. invasion of Iraq to a dual quest for “control of global oil resources” and “military hegemony” – a quest he says is motivated by the “[i]mperialism and racism” that “have deep roots in U.S. history and foreign policy.”

GRI produces an online newsletter that features many anti-capitalist, anti-U.S., anti-Israel themes. For example:

  • GRI laments “the catastrophic results of ten years of the World Trade Organization,” whose “‘liberalization’ of agricultural trade has resulted in a world-wide rural depression with millions of farmers and peasants … rising unemployment, stagnating growth … and a growing gap between rich and poor people all over the world, destruction of the environment, hunger and massive displacement of rural peoples.”
  • GRI claims “the U.S. food system benefits agribusiness, shipping companies and private voluntary organizations while either ignoring or exacerbating the long term causes of food insecurity.”
  • GRI supported a “shareholder resolution calling for Caterpillar to investigate whether their sale of bulldozers to Israel [for the demolition of Palestinian terrorists’ homes and bases of operation] violates the CAT ‘good global citizen’ code of conduct.”
  • GRI stated in October 2004: “The Israeli attacks on civilians in Gaza — often with U.S.-made weapons, payed [sic] for by American tax dollars — are in clear violation of the Arms Export Control Act.”

Grassroots International maintains a Speakers Bureau of individuals to publicly address issues of concern to the organization. It has also established a “Resource Rights for All” initiative to counteract what it calls the “neo-liberal, market-based [economic] model” that has enabled “international development banks and the corporations that control much of world agriculture … to wrest control of what have traditionally been community decisions: how best to use local resources to meet the needs of local people.”

GRI has received funding from the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the New World Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, and Working Assets.

To view a list of additional noteworthy supporters of Grassroots International, click here.

(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)

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