Focus: Controversy over Kansas City Sabeel Conference
Sabeel, an NGO which claims to promote non violence, but uses anti-Semitic themes and leads the divestment campaign, will hold a conference in Kansas on October 20-21 entitled "Ending the Silence: Voices from the Holy Land." The conference has caused some controversy due to Sabeel's use of apartheid rhetoric and its director, Naim Ateek's support of a one state solution. Kansas City Jewish Chronicle Editor Rick Hellman criticized the Village Presbyterian Church for hosting Sabeel and will now speak himself "to try and provide balance." Jeff Halper of ICAHD, another NGO that rejects the two-state solution and often tours with Sabeel to promote the Durban Strategy, will also speak at the conference.
Christian Aid Trustee says Israel "has got its grip" on Western world Christian Aid trustee, Baroness Jenny Tonge (also a member of the U.K.'s House of Lords) stated at a political conference in September that "the pro-Israel lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips."Christian Aid said that Tonge was not speaking on behalf of the organization nor had she consulted them about her statement, but has taken no action against her status in the organization. Tonge has previously expressed empathy for Palestinian suicide bombers stating in January 2004 "if I had to live in that situation - and I say that advisedly - I might just consider becoming one [a suicide bomber] myself."
HRW also maintained its focus on Israel in the aftermath of the recent conflict in Lebanon. On September 22, HRW called on the Israeli governmental investigative committee to "examine the decisions and policies that led to the large number of Lebanese civilian casualties." HRW also produced a compilation of its material on Israel's use of cluster bombs during the conflict with Lebanon in July and August 2006.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch criticize U.K. report on Lebanon War for lack of balance
On October 12, Amnesty International UK and Human Rights Watch criticized a U.K. government report about the war in Lebanon as it only referred to the actions of Hezbollah and did not mention Israeli military operations. Amnesty International UK Campaigns' Director Tim Hancock said that it is "deeply worrying that this report makes no specific mention of Israel's illegal targeting of Lebanese infrastructure..." AI and HRW have been heavily criticised for disproportionate focus on Israel during the war. HRW produced at least twenty-nine reports, press releases and opinion pieces on the war in Lebanon, only one of which specifically headlined Hezbollah's infractions of the laws of war.
Medecins Sans Frontieres "concerned" about health in the PA Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) issued a press release on September 21 to "express concern" about the suspension of aid by the U.S., EU, Japan and Canada to the Palestinian Authority. MSF stated that this has led to a "critical shortage of drugs and medical materials" particularly in the Hebron district. There was no mention of ongoing Palestinian terror attacks and the intra-Palestinian violence.
ICAHD publishes article promoting the "intifada"
On October 7, Israel Committee Against House Demolitions ( ICAHD) published an article by Jonathan Cook entitled "The Struggle for Palestine's Soul" which argued that Israel has broken its agreements with the Palestinians because "it has not for one moment renounced violence against Palestinian resistance to occupation." He went on to say that if Hamas wins its political and military battles with Fatah "then the Palestinians will have the chance to re-energize the intifada, and launch a proper, consensual fight to end the occupation." Despite this agenda, ICHAD received €472,000 from the EU in 2004 under the Partnership for Peace program.
Al Mezan launch international "information" campaign Al Mezan, a Palestinian NGO funded by the Ford Foundation and the International Commission of Jurists, among other sources, launched an international campaign on September 18, to demonstrate that "the Gaza Strip remains under Israeli effective control." One aim of the campaign is to distribute information worldwide "to show...the de facto Israeli occupation."
Al Haq declares that Gaza is still occupied, ignores Palestinian terror Al Haq, a politicized Palestinian NGO and affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, also issued a statement on September 12 stating that Gaza is still occupied. Al Haq details Israel's recent military operations but dismisses Palestinian responsibility for rockets attacks on Israeli towns and euphemistically refers to the illegal cross-border attack and abduction of Gilad Shalit as "an armed raid." The statement ended by calling on " the High Contracting Parties to the four Geneva Conventions to recognize Israel's continued occupation of, and responsibility for, the Gaza Strip."
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) calls for the abolishment of the death penalty in the PA. Also issues "Special "Report" condemning Israeli military actions On September 14, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)issued a Position Paper on the death penalty under the Palestinian National Authority in which it criticized the practice. It called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to ratify death sentences and called for the abolishment of the death penalty altogether.
PCHR also released a "Special Report" in September entitled "Six Years of Israeli Aggression on the OPT; IOF [Israeli Occupation Forces] Commit Unprecedented War Crimes against Palestinian Civilians and Property." It accuses Israel of war crimes, completely fails to mention Palestinian terrorism and calls on upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention "to search for and prosecute those responsible for grave breaches, namely war crimes."
BADIL publishes report calling security barrier "crime against humanity" BADIL, a radical Palestinian NGO which advocates the right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees, issued a seventy-page report in September which claimed that large numbers of Palestinians have been displaced by Israel's security barrier. The report, entitled "Displaced by the Wall", distorts international legal standards, describes the effects of the barrier as a "crime against humanity and a war crime" and fails to mention Palestinian terrorism which prompted the construction of the barrier.
Holy Land Trust gives Swiss Representative to PA a tour of Bethlehem
The Holy Land Trust (HLT) is a Bethlehem-based NGO claiming to "develop[e] nonviolent resistance", which carries out political advocacy for the Palestinian narrative on a national and international level. In October, HLT took the Swiss Representative to the PA on a tour of Bethlehem and the security barrier in the vicinity of the town. The tour included a talk by Salah Ta'amari, the Governor of the Bethlehem District, about "the siege on Bethlehem, the [Israeli] attacks, the effects on tourism, and the destruction of the economy." HLT held a conference in December 2005 which included radical NGOs such as the International Solidarity Movement, Sabeel and ICAHD. HLT has also signed a petition calling for the academic boycott of Israel."
Alex Margolin, NGO Monitor's Publications Manager, writes to the Japan Times about the bias of Human Rights Watch and its Emergencies Director, Peter Bouckhaert, "Rights group losing its halo", Alex Margolin, Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Alex Margolin was also published in Jewish Journal questioning J. Lipner's reliance on research by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Letters, October 13, 2006.