The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a department within the Swiss Foreign Ministry, states that its mission is “to fight poverty through participatory programs, creating sustainable improvements in peoples’ lives by involving them in the process … to improve access to education and basic health care, to promote environmental health, to encourage economic and governmental autonomy, and to improve equity in labor.” SDC finances, both directly and in partnership with other agencies, programs designed to assist needy populations around the world — focusing primarily on 16 nations in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
SDC has been particularly active in projects providing assistance to Palestinians. In Gaza and the West Bank, SDC’s strategic objectives are to “enhance the prospects for peace, improve living conditions, and promote viable and sustainable institutions.” In 2005 much of its budget for this region was designated explicitly for activities that “contribute to the development of a pluralist and democratic Palestinian society, to respect for constitutionality, and to the creation of public institutions capable of assuming their responsibilities in a future Palestinian state.”
However, SDC gives financial support to a number of NGOs that emphasize radical anti-Israel political positions and justify Palestinian violence. These NGOs include al Mezan, which SDC has supported since 1999; the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), which condemns Israel’s security fence as an “apartheid wall” and supports anti-Israel divestment; Dev.tv, an NGO that has produced documentaries condemning Israel; and Swisspeace, an “action-oriented peace-research institute” which works closely with highly politicized NGOs such as World Vision International and Caritas, and which endorses the radical agendas of Badil and the Palestinian NGO Network.
The SDC website’s background summary on the West Bank and Gaza is also based entirely on the Palestinian interpretation. For example, while Israel is condemned for imposing “blanket curfews in many West Bank cities sometimes lasting for weeks,” no mention is made of Palestinian terrorism. The same report blames “Israeli attacks” for the destruction of Palestinian “[s]tate structures which had been developed in recent years.”
This profile is adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.