BDS IN THE PEWS
June 04, 2013
- Website: www.bimkom.org, located in Jerusalem.
- Founded in 1999 “by a group of planners and architects, in order to strengthen democracy and human rights in the field of planning.”
- Mission: “Drawing on values such as human rights, social justice, good governance and community participation, we seek to affect system-wide change by encouraging the development of new planning policies and procedures that are more equitable and responsive to the needs of the various communities."
- Funding: EU (€174,116, January 2010-January 2013); NDC (governments of Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, and Sweden, NIS 1,047,047 2012); EC (NIS 351,340, 2012); Ireland (NIS 318,597, 2012); UN Habitat (NIS 373,178, 2012); NIF ($274,000, 2010; $338,340, 2011). Almost the entire 2010 budget (NIS 3,123,802) budget (2010) comes from NIF and foreign government funding.
- Engages in attempts to change Israeli government policy on issues such as spatial planning, planning procedures, housing rights, and amending the “Planning and Building Law and the Freedom of Information Law.” Campaigns have included attempts to “retroactively legalize illegal construction in Arab neighborhoods.”
- Bimkom disproportionately focuses on planning issues involving Palestinians over planning concerns regarding other minority groups.
- In 2006, Bimkom published a study accusing Israel of constructing the security barrier as a “land-grab” in order to annex territory and ignoring the context of terror. The Israeli Foreign Ministry criticized British financial support for the study, stating that “it is interference by Britain in an internal Israeli matter.... This is not acceptable in international relations.”
- A June 2008 report, “The Prohibited Zone,” also criticizes Israeli planning policies and obstacles created by the security barrier, while erasing the context of terror.
- Political activity completely unrelated to planning rights: Bimkom submitted a joint written statement to the Goldstone Commission (June 30, 2009) that does not address alleged Hamas war crimes, “but rather offers our own distinct perspective – human rights violations for which Israel must be held accountable.” This NGO document makes entirely speculative assertions about the motivation for the IDF operation against Hamas, claiming that “[t]o the extent that this was planned as a punitive operation which main purpose was not the achievement of actual military objectives, but the inflicting of deliberate damage as a deterrent and punitive measure” – despite their lacking requisite information to make such an assertion.
- Bimkom also petitions against “collective punishment” in Gaza and petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court (along with other NGOs) alleging that Israel attacked medical teams and ambulances.
- Demonizing rhetoric: In an article in Haaretz on June 19, 2012 about the African Migrant refugees in the South of Israel, Bimkom was quoted as comparing the refugee camps to "a huge concentration camp with harsh conditions."
- Bimkom, along with ACRI, accused Israel of practicing "zoning Apartheid" in Area C of the West Bank.
- Bedouins: In May 2013, UNRWA and BIMKOM co-authored a report on Bedouin communities in Area C of the West Bank, calling their situation “non-viable.” The report also includes a quote comparing the move to al Jabal as “Our own mini Nakba.”
- UNWRA and Bimkom describe the “plight” of these Bedouin: “With the occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank including East Jerusalem ongoing, and a durable solution to the Palestine refugee problem yet to be arrived at, the plight of the Jahalin Bedouin Palestine refugees in al Jabal reflects—albeit in a vastly less violent context—a number of the common elements of the Palestine refugee experience since 1948” (emphasis added).
- In October 2011, Bimkom, other NGOs, residents of five Bedouin villages, and several residents of Arad petitioned the High Court to stop the building of seven Jewish towns in the northern Negev. The petition referred to a government decision to establish seven agricultural settlements in the area of Mevo’ot Arad.
- Bimkom applies a simplistic and paternalistic narrative to the Bedouin communities, blaming Israel for the “acute deprivation” while ignoring the complexities such as environmental and social concerns, as well as failure to adhere to basic zoning laws.