Numerous statements have been issued from the office of Beilin’s Geneva Initiative in Tel Aviv which claimed that Beilin’s initiative was financed by private Jewish contributors.
However, one of the architects of the Geneva Initiative, Dr. Stephen Cohen, introducing himself as a paid advisor to the US State Department, spoke at a conference of the Brit Tzedek V’Shalom conference in Boston on November 19th, in which he stated that the funder of the Geneva Iniative was the Swiss Government. Cohen stated in answer to a question in the audience that he did not know of any major Jewish contributors to the Geneva Initiative.
On Monday, November 24th, the Geneva Initiative organizers offered to fly journalists to cover the event in Geneva on subsidized round trip chartered flight for the price of $150. (Our news agency is paying $871 each for two reporters to have two round-trip tickets to cover the event)
The spokesperson of the Geneva Initiative told reporters that the flight was subsidized by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Geneva-based Non-Governmental organization (www.hdcentre.org ).
When asked if this Center was financed by the Swiss Government, the Geneva Initiative Spokesperson said that she did not know. When she was asked if they had an office in Israel, she said that she did not know. They were not listed in Israel. The spokesperson for the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center in Ramallah, was kind enough to provide the contact information Center’s office in the Palestinian Authority. They did not know anything about their involvement with the journalist flight arrangement.
At the office of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, their spokesperson was asked as to whether their programs were financed by the Swiss government.
The spokesperson said that some of their programs and projects were indeed financed by the Swiss government.
The Center spokesperson was then asked as to whether the flight for the journalists on Monday sponsored by their agency was financed by the Swiss government.
The answer was: “What flight”?
The Center spokesperson was rather surprised, and wondered if the agency that he worked for had not informed its spokesman of its activities.
The Center spokesman checked and called back to say that his agency was not in any way, shape or form involved in the subsidy or organization of the journalist’s flight to cover the Geneva Initiative.
The Center spokesman suggested to call the Swiss government spokesman. The Swiss government spokesman was not ready to say anything on the subject, saying that all this would be discussed in a press conference tomorrow.
I called back to the Beilin Geneva Iniative Office to ask why they had said that the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue was subsidizing the flight when the Center’s spokesperson said that the Center had nothing to do with the flight.
It took two hours for the spokesperson of The Beillin Geneva Initiative to get back to me with an answer that it was the Swiss government which is subsidizing the flight for journalists.
It would seem highly unusual for a foreign government to finance the activities of another government’s opposition event.
It is even more unusual for a foreign government to pay for reporters to cover such an event.
A spokesman of the Swiss Foreign Ministry explained that to the best of his knowledge that his government was paying for the delegations to come to Geneva, not for journalists to come. The Swiss government spokesman referred the question to Michael Levy, a close associate of Yossi Beilin.
Levy indicated that Journalists were not offered any subsidy on the trip.
When asked to explain further, Levy slammed down the phone. Asked why he hung up the phone, Levy said that he had said enough to the media on this matter.
So much for the notion that private Jewish contributors are behind the Beilin Geneva initiative.