Summary: Many politicized and EU-funded NGOs that contribute to the demonization of Israel are holding activities and publishing reports coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the 1967 War. These activities portray a one-sided view of events, repeating the Palestinian narrative and providing a distorted history of the war. The NGOs involved include the EU-funded Machsom Watch, War on Want, and ICAHD, as well as Amnesty International, Sabeel, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Christian Aid. These events are further exemplaries of biased political agendas that are inconsistent with promoting universal human rights, and highlight the danger of government funding for these NGOs.
Many NGOs are holding activities during the week of June 5, 2007, to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the 1967 war. These activities which range from demonstrations and lobbying to lengthy and biased reports, portray a one-sided view of events, based on the Palestinian narrative. These initiatives provide a distorted history of the war, most notably by ignoring Nasser’s eviction of UN peacekeepers, strangling the port of Eilat, the military build-up and threats to destroy Israel made by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria prior to the fighting. The policy of Arab rejectionism subsequent to the war and the history of UN Resolution 242 are similarly omitted.
These events are spearheaded by politicized, EU-funded NGOs such as Machsom Watch, War on Want and ICAHD as well as Amnesty International, Sabeel, and Rabbis for Human Rights, as analyzed in detail in the following analysis.
Kibush 40 Coalition
A group of NGOs, known for their anti-Israel political agendas (many of which received funds from European governments), have formed a coalition called Kibush 40 (Occupation 40). Members include the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (including Friends of Sabeel and Pax Christi), Enough (an NGO group including War on Want), ICAHD, and Machsom Watch. The coalition was formed for "six days of actions to mark forty years of occupation, on June 6 to 12, 2007.” Kibush 40 puts the entire responsibility of the conflict on Israel and uses the rhetoric of demonization, calling for “days of action” because “the Israeli government evades negotiations that would end the occupation and lead to a just peace, the lives of Palestinians continue to be crushed daily by closures and economic strangulation, [and] their land confiscated for settlements and their communities made into prisons by the Segregation Wall.”
The six-day “convergence” will include protests, calls for boycotting Israel, and “direct actions.” For example, The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is holding "a protest, teach-in and lobby day" on June 10-11 and Enough is holding a "major national demonstration and rally" in London on June 9, under the banner “The World Says No to Israeli Occupation.” A flyer advertising the event utilizes an image of Israeli soldiers aiming automatic weapons at Palestinian schoolgirls. Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, will deliver a videotaped message to the demonstrators. The Enough coalition lays sole blame on Israel and attributes Palestinian suffering not just to the “Occupation” but to the creation of Israel itself.
Amnesty International’s ”Enduring Occupation” Report
In conjunction with the anniversary, Amnesty International has issued a press release and 52-page report employing “Durban Strategy” rhetoric, entitled “Enduring Occupation: Palestinians Under Siege in the West Bank.” NGO Monitor has published detailed analysis of Amnesty's disproportionate publications that focuses primarily on Israel using claims that lack credibility or have been proven false. (See here for NGO Monitor’s coverage). This report is no exception. It is replete with unverifiable claims, factual distortions and misstatements. The report places full responsibility for the conflict on Israel, with minimal reference to Palestinian terror. There is no mention of widespread corruption within the Palestinian economic and social systems, the international boycott of Hamas as a terror organization, and the continued mismanagement of funds by the Palestinians. Emotive language is employed, such as the highly charged opening implication that Israel deliberately kills Palestinian children. The report also falsely implies that Israeli security measures are enacted solely to benefit “settlers” or in order to discriminate against Palestinians on the basis of race. Most disturbingly, Amnesty abuses Holocaust terminology and metaphors, such as the "Wall of Death" (page 10), which is associated with the Auschwitz death camp.
Moreover, the report completely misrepresents Israel’s separation barrier, ignoring the precipitous decline in terror attacks following the barrier’s construction. Amnesty instead attributes the decline in terror attacks to the so-called 2005 “cease fire” with Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations, ignoring the many suicide bombings, shooting attacks, Qassam rocket attacks, and kidnappings of Israeli civilians during that time, as well as the hundreds of attempted attacks that were thwarted by the very security measures that Amnesty condemns. Amnesty does not distinguish between civilians and combatants when referring to Palestinian casualties, nor does the group acknowledge the systematic use of civilian human shields by Palestinian terror groups. The authors of this Amnesty document provide no sources to verify their statistical claims, and many of the other statements repeat the unverified claims of Machsom Watch, B’tselem, Yesh Din, and Peace Now.
June 5th Initiative
The ‘June 5th Initiative for Israeli-Palestinian Peace ’ which describes itself as a ‘civil society initiative’ is endorsed by a number of Israeli, Palestinian and international NGOs. While the participants claim to advocate “a peaceful compromise based on the ‘two-states for two peoples’ formula on the basis of the 1967 borders,” this is a partisan, political activity which falls outside the remit of these organizations. NGOs supporting the initiative include the EU-funded Machsom Watch and the Parents Circle-Family Forum, Combatants for Peace, Yesh Din, and Rabbis for Human Rights. The week-long event includes international activities such as a Tel Aviv screening of a ‘presentation on the Israeli checkpoints’, marches, academic conferences, art exhibits, tours, and mock peace negotiations.
The website contains a section on Endorsements where NGOs and individuals have pledged their support of the initiative. An endorsement letter which calls for “an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and end to the occupation” is included for organizations and individuals to sign in Hebrew, English and Arabic. The June 5th Initiative lacks transparency regarding funding and it is unclear whether individuals or organizations endorsing the initiative have donated money. Endorsements have been received from a wide range of organizations such as the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group which in a 2004 press release, argued "[b]y such acts of violence, Israel is bringing disaster to its own people.". Other organizations include the Norwegian Peace Association and the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation which frequently draws a moral equivalence between the acts of terrorists and Israeli counter-terrorism operations.
Other NGO Activity
KAIROS is asking congregations to hold prayer sessions on June 3rd for "a lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians". Despite KAIROS' mention of “suicide bombings and other forms of attacks” within Israel, it accuses Israel of being responsible for the current conflict and cites to B’Tselem’s disputed statistics on Palestinian casualties.
Friends of Sabeel-North America is promoting a conference organized by the Voices for Middle East Justice. While the conference organizers professes that "Israel has the same rights to safety and security within its borders as any other nation of the world", they omit any reference to Palestinian violence and declare that they “oppose and reprove any efforts to influence United States public policy that deny or ignore the disproportionate violence that Israelis inflict upon Palestinians.”
Christian Aid has released a report to coincide with the anniversary entitled “Israel & Palestine: A Question of Viability,” which minimizes the role of Palestinian terrorism and corruption as a major factor in Palestinian poverty and Israeli security measures, and instead lays blame on the “occupation” and the “settlers”.
Rather than promoting peace and human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians, the NGOs involved in the events described above are exploiting the fortieth anniversary of the 1967 War as a further occasion to demonize and internationally isolate Israel. Moreover, these events are another opportunity for NGOs to promote the Palestinian narrative and engage in historical revision regarding the war and even Israel’s creation. Such activities are blatantly political and government funding of the NGOs for these goals is counterproductive and unjustified.
1. In 2006, attempted terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians actually increased dramatically. In addition to the many attempted stabbings, shootings, mortar, and rocket attacks, 71 attempted suicide bombings were thwarted by Israeli anti-terrorism measures.