April 2006 Digest (Vol. 4 No.8)
April 12, 2006
Table of Contents:
EU Continues Funding of Highly Politicized NGOs
Focus: Major NGOs Inject Political Agendas in Statements on the Jericho Prison confrontation:
NGO Activity in Brief
NGO Monitor Publications this Month
NGO Monitor in the Media
Under the guise of support for human rights and peace negotiations, the EU is continuing to support highly politicized NGOs. European Union documents reveal that Commission funding for NGOs in 2005 included support for ICAHD (whose head, Jeff Halper, refers to Israel as an "apartheid state" and actively supports Sabeel's divestment campaign), HaMoked, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), and Machsom Watch.
See NGO Monitor Update: EU funding for NGOs in 2005.
Background on events in Jericho, 14 March 2006:
On 14 March U.S and British monitors of the P.A controlled Jericho prison withdrew, citing fears for their security. Under a 2002 agreement between the governments, the monitors had been ensuring the incarceration of Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who is suspected by Israel of having ordered the assassination of Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001. Others held at the facility included Fuad Shubaki, believed to have been responsible for the Karine-A weapons smuggling ship.
With the departure of the monitors and the end of the agreed framework, the Israeli government moved to detain Saadat and the others at the prison. IDF forces surrounded the site and called on all the prisoners to come out. Some prisoners were stripped down to their underwear to ensure they were not concealing explosives. After ten-hours, Saadat, Shubaki and the other four PFLP members surrendered.
Amnesty International - continues to ignore facts in condemnation of Israel
Amnesty International issued a press release on 14 March calling on Israel to "end its policy of assassinations and excessive use of lethal force." AI was responding to the confrontation at the Jericho prison, where members of the terrorist PFLP were being held under international agreement. AI criticized the "extra-legal" arrangement of PFLP leader Saadat's incarceration and stated that the organization was "deeply concerned" for his safety. Following AI's pattern, this statement ignored many key details, including Saadat's crucial role in the assassination of Israeli Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001.
B'Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) accuse Israel of violating Geneva Convention. B'Tselem also criticizes PA for failing to halt terrorism
B'Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights - Israel accused Israel of violating the Geneva Convention when pictures of detainees in their underwear from the Jericho prison were published in newspapers. B'Tselem sent a letter to the IDF Judge Advocate General stating "security considerations...do not justify parading the detainees in front of the media" and added "It was the duty of the security forces to take proactive steps to conceal the detainees from the cameras." The NGOs omitted to mention the IDF's explanation that the media took and broadcast the pictures without permission or cooperation from the army. This suggests that the NGOs were more interested in condemning the IDF than in protecting the rights of the Palestinians.
B'Tselem also issued a press release condemning a Palestinian suicide bombing near the settlement of Kedumim on 30 March that killed four Israelis. It stated "attacks aimed at civilians undermine all rules of morality and law. Specifically, the intentional killing of civilians is considered a "grave breach" of international humanitarian law and a war crime." The statement called on the Palestinian Authority to prevent such attacks.
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), (Christian Aid partner), accuses Israel of intentionally fuelling a "cycle of violence."
The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees ( PARC, a partner of Christian Aid) issued a statement on 15 March claiming that Israel's capture of Ahmed Saadat was "aimed to trigger [sic] state of unprecedented chaos in the Palestinian Territories and to give a cover to Israel's unilateral plans to permanently annex the majority of the West Bank and Jerusalem." PARC further digressed from its humanitarian remit to use the incident to demonize Israel, stating that "Israel wanted to reintroduce the region to a vicious circle of violence and counter violence...to maintain control over the Palestinian land and prevent the implementation of the two state solution."
NGO Activity in Brief
Michigan Attorney General calls for investigation of Ford Foundation spending on political campaigns
Detroit News, April 2 2006
The article cites criticism that the "Ford Foundation grants supported groups that essentially turned a U.N. World Conference Against Racism five years ago into a platform for anti-Semitic rants, that it backs political correctness on college campuses, that its funds could end up backing violence or terrorism. In a Nov. 17, 2003, letter to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., foundation president Berresford said "we deeply regret that grantees may have taken part in unacceptable behavior" and said the new grants will "include new prohibitions against all forms of bigotry and against calls for the destruction of any state." However, as NGO Monitor analyses have demonstrated, the Ford Foundation continues to fund NGOs promoting the Durban strategy.
Arab Association for Human Rights accuses Israel of Institutional Racism - exploiting human rights to promote the Durban strategy
The EU funded Arab Association for Human Rights ( HRA) accused Israel of an "ongoing process of overt racist incitement against this [Arab] minority, both by the state and official authorities and by the Jewish majority" in relation to an incident in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth 3 March. Despite the fact that the attack was carried out by civilians with disturbed personal histories, one of whom also has a record of mental illness, HRA claimed that the Israeli government was responsible. In a six-page report, the institute stated that "the State [of Israel] holds responsibility for the attack in that they helped create an atmosphere of racism that legitimized attacks on the minority and their holy places." HRA has made similar accusations in the past, using human rights claims to promote the Durban strategy.
Christian Aid, EAPPI and CTBI promote Palestinian narrative in peace "advocacy week".
Christian Aid, Sabeel, the Middle East Forum of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), the Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) of the East Jerusalem YMCA, Pax Christi and others participated in an "International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel advocacy initiative", reported in NGO Monitor's February's Digest, which took place between 12-19 March.
A statement made by "Church leaders" in Jerusalem promoted the Palestinian narrative, implied that Israeli actions are the root cause of violence in the region and absolved the Palestinians of any responsibility in the conflict. At the event in London's Westminster Central Hall, organized by CTBI and Christian Aid, the Rt. Rev Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter said "this is not a one off, but part of a strategy of awareness in our churches."
Christian Aid continues to promote organizations and events that advance a political agenda, which consistently blames Israel for the ongoing conflict. The biased and politicized nature of the week-long event was evident in the "solidarity mission" that visited the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem and "took part in a candlelit vigil for peace next to the separation wall at Qalandiya, close to Ramallah." Notably absent was any attempt to understand or acknowledge Palestinian attacks against Israel and the history of the conflict.
Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) continues to use human rights rhetoric to attack Israel
The Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) declared in a press release of 11 March that the Israeli closure of the West Bank was "a gross and clear violation of article 33 of the fourth Geneva Convention." The closure was in response to numerous threats of terrorist attacks during the period of the festival of Purim. These warnings were proved credible after three suspected suicide bombers were caught inside Israel on the 21 March and 2 April and a suicide bombing on March 30 killed four Israelis outside the Kedumim settlement. This exemplifies JCSER's continued use of human rights rhetoric to attack Israel.
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) convenes Australia national hearing
The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, which has been active in promoting an anti-Israeli agenda, convened its " Australia national hearing" on 14 and 15 March. The panel seeks "to examine the compatibility of laws, policies and practices, which are justified expressly or implicitly as necessary to counter terrorism, with international human rights law and, where applicable, with international humanitarian law." Participants on the panel include Mary Robinson who was the UN Human Rights Commissioner from 1997 to 2002 and presided over the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, September 2001, where Zionism was equated with racism. Other panelists include Arthur Chaskalson of South Africa, Georges Abi Saab of Egypt, Hina Jilani of Pakistan and Robert K. Goldman from the U.S. Future hearings will cover countries in the Middle East.
Human Rights Watch letter to Knesset condemning terror suspect detention bill
On 15 March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent a letter to Knesset Members calling on them to reject a bill regarding laws of detention of terror suspects, arguing that it would "create a two-tiered system" which would be more stringent for non-residents. While acknowledging that "Israel faces grave security threats and has a duty to protect its citizens" HRW argued that the laws aimed at combating terrorism must be "applied in a non-discriminatory manner." The letter compared the proposed bill to similar counter-terrorism legislation in other countries such as the U.K. and Australia. In response to these complaints, also made by Amnesty International, Adalah, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture (PCATI), Committee chairman Michael Eitan defended the bill stating that the reason the laws were harsher than in other countries was because few other countries experienced the level of terrorism that Israel does.
US bill to channel more Palestinian aid via NGOs
The International Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives voted 36-2 to approve H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act. This legislation, introduced by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl) and Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) would ban all non-humanitarian aid to the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority (PA), and channel more aid via non-governmental organizations. US legislation currently bars all funding to NGOs that promote terror, and that refuse to abide by the guidelines on terrorism.
See also: " US to Boost Palestinian Humanitarian Aid - Sources" and Gerald Steinberg, " Funding NGOs is no solution," Jerusalem Post, February 11, 2006
NGO "Service for Peace" led a delegation of Israeli and Palestinian volunteers to take part in hurricane relief activities in McLain, Mississippi
Service for Peace, an NGO that seeks to "deepen cooperation between diverse groups and communities and the world," led a delegation of volunteers to take part in hurricane relief activities in McLain, Mississippi, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina. A number of Israeli members of this NGO participated in this delegation. The volunteers helped restore a kindergarten and homes in McLain and then moved on to New Orleans, where they helped restore a synagogue and several damaged homes. Service for Peace is active in Israel and the Palestinian territories and has held a number of positive bridge-building trips and activities both in the region and in America.
War Crimes Prosecution Watch launched by Case Western Reserve University School of Law
The War Crimes Prosecution Watch, a bi-weekly e-newsletter was launched on 20 February. It is published by the International Justice Practice of Case Western Reserve University School of Law. The newsletter collects official documents and articles from major news sources "detailing and analyzing salient issues pertaining to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes throughout the world." The March 20 edition included reports on cases in Indonesia regarding East Timor, the Saddam Hussein trial in Iraq and the situation in Darfur, Sudan.
"Sabeel Role in Presbyterian Church Divestment"
"Respected Academics Criticize "Human Rights Charade" at the U.N."
"Bridge-Building Peace Group Turned Back from Libyan Border"
NGO Monitor Publications this Month
Analysis of International Progress Organization, March 30, 2006
Human Rights Watch in 2005: Political Bias against Israel continues despite wider Middle East Focus, April 6, 2006.
New Info-file on Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG)
NGO Monitor in the Media
NGO Monitor's analyses were cited in media reports on divestment campaign activities of the Sabeel Ecumenical Center and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in the past month. NGO Monitor editor Prof. Gerald Steinberg also contributed an article in Canadian Jewish News assessing the World Health Organization's publication, Bridges: An Israeli-Palestinian Public Health Magazine.
In his article, Abusing Medicine for Propaganda, Steinberg notes that health care should be an obvious area of cooperation between Israel and the Arab world. But Bridges, he writes, "mixes soft health care pieces with anti-Israel propaganda written by Palestinians, as well as some fringe Israelis who believe that the key to peace is to accept responsibility for terror and incitement."
Even though the World Health Organization is an international body that works closely with the United Nations, "NGOs that exploit human rights and humanitarian claims in order to demonize Israel, such as Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Palestinian Human Rights Committee, are regularly given space to promote their ideology in Bridges," he writes.
Steinberg was also quoted in the New York Sun in an article called Palestinian Seeking US Entry Says Israelis are 'War Criminals.' The article chronicles anti-Israeli Palestinian activist, Raji Sourani's efforts to obtain an American Visa. Sourani, a member of PCHR, played a key role in the campaign to arrest of IDF general Doron Almog in the UK, and similar cases.
The Sun also quoted NGO Monitor's research on Sabeel in an editorial on the recent anti-Israeli lobby article co-written by Stephan Walt, dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. The editorial, entitled The Belfer Declaration, focuses on other anti-Israel activity at the Kennedy School including the role of Hilary Rantisi, a former member of Sabeel. The editorial notes that Sabeel "is active in promoting an extreme anti-Israel agenda" and "employs classical anti-Semitic theological themes, citing a Jews-Killed-Jesus-type message that the organization issued for Easter."