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October 2006 Digest (Vol.5 No.2)

October 18, 2006

Table of Contents:

Focus: Controversy over Kansas City Sabeel Conference

NGO Activity in Brief

International NGO Activity

Israeli and Palestinian NGO Activity

NGO Monitor Publications this Month

 

Recommended Articles

 

NGO Monitor in the Media

 


 

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.

NGO Activity in Brief:

International NGO Activity

 

European Commission delays answering European Parliament questions on NGO funding in the PA.
As of October 9, written questions to the European commission about its funding procedures for Palestinians and Israeli NGOs remain unanswered. In May 2006, European Member of Parliament, Paul van Buitenen, submitted a number of questions to the European Commission about funding procedures for Palestinian and Israeli NGOs. The questions asked if there are specific criteria by which decisions on funding for these NGOs are made, and whether EU funding for NGOs since 1993 has had any visible impact on peace-making efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.


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."


Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), along with War on Want and ICAHD (both funded by the EU) call for arms boycott of Israel
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), an NGO based in London, has initiated the Stop Arming Israel campaign, aimed at halting U.K. weapons sales and purchases to and from Israel, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. The October/November issue of "CAATnews" featured a special report citing Israel's military operations in Lebanon and Gaza as reasons for establishing an arms embargo. The report tries to negate the legitimacy of these IDF actions saying that Hezbollah was the "the purported target" of Israel's Lebanese operations and that IDF actions in Gaza are "collective punishment for the armed resistance of a small minority." War on Want and the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions - both long active in anti-Israel demonization political campaigns are partners in the campaign.


Human Rights Watch hypocritical in its criticism of UN Human Rights Council's bias against Israel
In a press release of September 18, coinciding with the second session of the new U.N. Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch criticized the Council for ignoring humanitarian crises in Darfur and Sri Lanka. Peggy Hicks, HRW's Global Advocacy Director, said "if the Human Rights Council fails again to address human rights crises beyond those involving Israel, its credibility may be damaged beyond repair." However, HRW itself condemned Israeli and American demands for further reform of the Human Rights Council when it was created in March 2006. HRW regularly focuses disproportionately on alleged Israeli infractions of human rights to the detriment of serious human rights crises around the world, thereby setting a precedent for the UNHRC.

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.


President of Ford Foundation, Susan Berresford, to retire in 2008.
Susan Berresford, President of the Ford Foundation since 1996, has announced she will retire in 2008. The Ford Foundation played an important role in the Durban Conference of 2001 and has consistently funded politicized NGOs which routinely attack Israel and conduct political campaigns against it in international forums.


Oxfam, Amnesty International and International Action Network on Small Arms -- "helicopters should not be sold to Israel"
On October 2, Oxfam, Amnesty International and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) issued a forty-six page report about the international arms trade . The report specifically singles out companies in the U.S. and U.K. for selling components of Apache helicopters to Israel. The report cited Human Rights Watch's extremely problematic allegations on Israeli military operations during the recent conflict in Lebanon as the basis for claimed abuses of the laws of war, and stated that EU countries should "refuse exports of the full weapons system directly to Israel".


Israeli and Palestinian NGO Activity

 

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 Dameer demands Rafah crossing be opened
The politicized Palestinian NGO, Al Dameer, issued a press release on September 28 demanding that the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt be permanently opened. It stated that the closure of the crossing was "collective punishment" and a violation of human rights law. Al Dameer failed to mention that since Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza, the Rafah crossing has been used to smuggle large amounts of weapons into the territory and therefore constitutes a serious security concern for Israel. Al Dameer's donors include the International Commission of Jurists, the Ford Foundation and Norwegian Peoples Aid.


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."


NGO Monitor Publications this Month


Recommended Articles


NGO Monitor in the Media

  • Gerald Steinberg, letter to the Washington Post, "Double Standard on Israel", October 8, 2006, in response to "Diversionary Strike on a Rights Group" by Kathleen Peratis, September 20, 2006
  • 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.


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