BDS IN THE PEWS
March-April 2011 Digest (Vol. 9, No. 7-8)
May 19, 2011
Amnesty’s Canadian elections attack, blood libel, and other anti-Israel activities
In an attempt to influence the Canadian federal elections and weaken support for a number of Harper government policies, Amnesty International released a report, Getting Back on the 'Rights' Track (March 31, 2011), claiming that “Canada’s standing as an international human rights champion has dropped.” According to Amnesty, a central component of Canada’s human rights failure is “Unflinching refusal to raise concerns about the Israeli government’s human rights record, leading to an erosion of Canada’s principled and non-partisan reputation in the Middle East.”
In particular, Amnesty criticized Canada’s refusal to back anti-Israel resolutions in the UN following the Second Lebanon War (2006) and the Gaza war (2009), which were initiated by the Arab League and Organization for the Islamic Conference dictatorships, and largely based on the biased and false publications of Amnesty and other NGOs.
Other examples of Amnesty’s promotion of demonization of Israel include:
- On April 12, Amnesty-UK hosted an event, The Denial of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Without providing any independent evidence, one speaker accused Israeli soldiers of using glass shards to carve a Star of David into the arm of a Palestinian boy’s arm. An audience member reported that, after he challenged the source of the image depicting the Palestinian boy’s arm, Amnesty-UK’s crisis response and country priorities campaigns manager Kristyan Benedict said he would, “smack me in my little bald head.”
- Amnesty Leicester (UK) on the security barrier (March 29, 2011): “The Israeli Separation Barrier is a symbol of oppression as surely as the Berlin Wall, it facilitates apartheid policies by denying human rights to the Palestinian people.”
- Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre hosted the ICAHD–UK annual conference on March 26. Speakers included director of Amnesty UK Kate Allen and ICAHD Director Jeff Halper. ICAHD promotes BDS campaigns, and its rhetoric includes accusations of “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid.”
Ford Foundation to end partnership with NIF
The Ford Foundation, a major source of funding for NGOs, will no longer support Israeli groups beginning in 2013. Since 2003, Ford’s $40 million in grants to Israeli groups has been administered by the New Israel Fund (NIF) through the “Ford Israel Fund” project.
In this partnership, “grant recommendations are considered and approved by the board of the New Israel Fund,” and the Ford Foundation “is not consulted about funding choices made by NIF.”
As reported in the Forward, the Ford Israel Fund has funded a significant number of Israeli political advocacy NGOs over the past two years, including:
The Ford Foundation has also granted $600,000 in 2009-2010 to the Palestinian NGO Al Haq – one of the leaders of the anti-Israel “lawfare” campaigns – for an international humanitarian law institute. Under the auspices of this institute, Al Haq, in conjunction with Adalah, held a symposium (August 16, 2009) about its May 2009 publication, “Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel´s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law.” This report refers to Israel as a “colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid” and declares it guilty of placing Palestinians in “reserves and ghettoes.” The publication also calls for an International Court of Justice advisory opinion declaring Israel to be a “racist, apartheid colonial state.”
Mada al-Carmel’s “counter-attack” on funding guidelines
In April 2011, Mada al-Carmel hosted a workshop on “civil society organizations and the interference of funding policy in dictating the boundaries of political debate.” The event was a response to principled funding guidelines , which NGO Monitor has promoted, that have been established by the New Israel Fund (NIF) and other NGO funders.
NIF has committed not to support groups that “work to deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereign self-determination within Israel.” But Mada al-Carmel, which received $450,000 in 2006-2009 from NIF, co-authored the Haifa Declaration (2007) calling for a “change in the definition of the State of Israel from a Jewish state.” It is unknown whether NIF will cease funding for this NGO in line with its new guidelines.
Key quotes from the program:
- Dr Raif Zreik, Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University: “What role the organizations should play in a state like Israel, which was founded on the destruction of Palestinian society.... The battle... was between one side, which has material resources, and the other side, which has legitimacy and justice as its resource.”
- Einas Odeh-Haj, Assistant Director Mada al-Carmel: “Are civil society organizations capable of coping with the funding organizations’ interference in political matters? What tools are available to combat this interference? How should foundations, such as the New Israel Fund, that condition funding on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, be handled?”
- Dr. Amal Jamal, I’lam Center: “There is a huge conflict between the agenda of the funders and the agenda of civil society organizations... to withstand the attack on Palestinian civil society organizations, it was necessary to discuss these issues among civil society and mount a counter attack.”
Fringe groups blame Israel for Palestinian murders
Radical NGOs condemned Israel for the murders of two pro-Palestinian activists, Juliano Mer-Khamis (killed in Jenin, April 4) and Vittorio Arrigoni (Gaza City, April 15). All evidence indicates that these individuals were murdered by Palestinian extremists, but the NGOs erased this aspect to advance their anti-Israel agenda.
- Alternative Information Center (AIC) blamed Israel for causing “a disintegrating society, suffering from acute distress, which leads certain people to desperate solutions of murdering solidarity activists and acting against civilians.” (AIC funders include Belgium through Solidarite Socialiste, Spain through Mundubat, Diakonia [Swedish government funds], and ICCO [Dutch government funds].)
- Montreal-based Tadamon! urged supporters to “remember and reflect on the courage and determination of the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israeli apartheid.”
- Hani Al-Masri, founder and director of Bada’el (the Palestinian Center for Media and Research) and a contributor to BADIL’s al-Majdal magazine, stated: “Sadly, this crime portrayed the worst possible image of Palestinians… Of course, there is no doubt that Israel maybe [sic] behind it.”
HRW Equates Israeli Defense with Hamas Terror
An April 12 press release by Human Rights Watch (HRW) equated “attacks... by Hamas and Israeli forces [that] appear to have targeted civilians or otherwise violated the laws of war.” While Hamas fired a missile directly at an Israeli school bus, killing a 16-year old boy, which Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson condemned as “horrendous,” she also alleged, without evidence, that Israel showed “reckless indifference to civilians” in targeting terrorists firing from Gaza. HRW also accused Israel of “failure to take all feasible precautions to ensure only military objectives are attacked”; these claims require information related to Israeli military operations that HRW does not possess.
HRW’s bias was also evident in the distinction between the “investigations” into the attacks, reflecting the relative importance for the NGO of the incidents. HRW’s discussion of the attack against the Israeli school bus is based solely on media reports and public statements by Israeli and Hamas officials. In sharp contrast, HRW staff were on the scene in Gaza, conducting interviews, inspecting damage and wounds allegedly from Israeli shells, and collect shrapnel.
Additionally, as in previous reports, HRW makes technical and forensic claims that are completely outside of its expertise and capabilities. HRW also repeats past claims about “drone-launched missiles that HRW examined during the 2008-09 Gaza conflict.” However, at the time, HRW’s allegations were discredited by “independent experts” and the manufacturers of the weaponry.
NGOs exploit UN and distort question of Palestinian prisoners
On March 7-8, 2011, Israeli and Palestinian NGOs attended a two-day meeting in Vienna organized by the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The topic was Palestinian prisoners, who were referred to as “ political prisoners ,” and Israel was accused of “torture,” “grave breaches of international law,” and “war crimes.”
- Nasser Alryyes, Al Haq (funded by Ford Foundation, Christian Aid, the Netherlands, OSI Development Foundation, NDC, and Diakonia): “The Israeli occupying State was dealing with Palestinian detainees as criminals that had violated security and the rule of law, rather than recognizing their legal status as freedom fighters.”
- HaMoked (funded by NIF, European Commission, UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, the NGO Development Center, and Diakonia) dismissed security concerns: “Real aim... was to expand and reinforce Israeli rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in violation of international legal standards.”
- Shawan Jabarin, General Director of Al Haq and alleged activist in the PFLP terror group: “The Israeli High Court of Justice was a ‘rubber stamp to legitimize the illegitimate’.”
- Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) (funded by NIF, EC, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Finland, UK, and NDC): “Torture underpinned and supported the occupation… and was intended to prevent Palestinians from achieving self-determination.”
- Similar prejudicial claims and themes were expounded by Human Rights Watch, Oxfam Novib (funded extensively by the Netherlands), Addameer, and International Commission of Jurists.
NGO Monitor in the media
- Italian politician: Vittorio Arrigoni was ‘enemy of Jews’, Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, April 26, 2011
- NGO Monitor slams HRW rep for ‘racially charged language´, Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, April 21, 2011
- Ford Foundation, Big Funder of Israeli NGOs, Pulling Out, Nathan Guttman, The Forward, April 6, 2011
- What follows Richard Goldstone's reversal?, Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, April 4, 2011
- US Jewish groups urge Goldstone to retract report, Lidar Grave-Lazi, Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2011
- The UN hatefest coming to New York, Jason Edelstein, New York Post, March 29, 2011
- Judge Goldstone vs. the Goldstone Report?, Gerald M. Steinberg, Washington Jewish Week, March 23, 2011
- Israel, Legitimacy and Human Rights: An Interview with Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, New Vilna Review, March 16, 2011
- Advocacy Gone Awry, Gary Rosenblatt, The Jewish Week, March 15, 2011
- NIF-Funded Groups Organize ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ Event, Alana Goodman, Contentions blog, March 14, 2011
- Human Rights Watch and the selling of Gaddafi, Gerald M. Steinberg and Anne Herzberg, Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2011
- Israel Apartheid Week, and efforts to combat it, begin, Jordana Horn, Jerusalem Post, March 8, 2011
- Human Rights Watch should have been keeping tabs on Libya´, Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, March 2, 2011
- Jewish Agency: ‘Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity’ is anti-Zionist, Gil Shefler, Jerusalem Post, March 2, 2011