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NGOs and the Political-legal Theater in Operation Protective Edge

Abstract

During Operation Protective Edge, numerous NGOs claiming human rights agendas issued hundreds of statements, with the vast majority condemning Israel. These statements played a central role in the activities of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Schabas/Davis Commission, which published a report condemning Israeli actions. NGO allegations of war crimes also served as the basis for lawfare campaigns, including efforts to prosecute Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court and other venues, and for BDS campaigns against Israeli and Jewish targets. NGO reports in the context of asymmetric warfare are generally accepted at face value, despite their lack of credible fact-finding methodologies. Similarly, legal analyses, based on problematic and “aspirational” interpretations, are accepted and echoed widely. In contrast, the policies of the IDF and Ministry of Defense to counter political warfare during Operation Protective Edge had limited impact. This article argues that a wider, carefully crafted, and proactive approach is necessary.

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About the Authors

Anne Herzberg

Anne Herzberg

Anne Herzberg is the Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University Law School. Prior to joining NGO Monitor, she worked as an attorney in New York. Her areas of research include business and human rights, international human rights law, the laws of armed conflict, universal jurisdiction, international fact finding, NGOs, and the UN.

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg

Professor Gerald Steinberg is founder and president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University. He is the founder of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University. His research focuses on the changing nature of power in international relations, as reflected in Middle East Diplomacy and Security, The Politics of Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and Israeli Politics and Arms Control.

Josh Bacon