Focus: Defence for Children International / Palestine leads new campaign to demonize Israel at the UN
Professor Jaap Doek, Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) met with Defence for Children International/Palestine (DCI-P) officials on February 15, 2007 in Ramallah. The aim of the unofficial visit was for DCI-P "to influence the planning and agenda” of the official CRC visit to the Palestinian Authority this spring. Other NGOs present at the meeting included Addameer, Al-Haq, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights (PICCR), Save the Children UK, Save the Children Sweden, the United Against Torture (UAT) coalition and UNICEF . This meeting was a follow-up to DCI-P's closed "special audience" with members of the CRC at its 43rd session in September 2006, where it accused Israel of “impunity” and of violating the rights of Palestinian children in “insidious ways”. DCI-P’s lobbying effort prompted the CRC to plan an official visit to the region for spring 2007.
The UN CRC's reliance on DCI-P is problematic, given this NGO's history of bias, politicization, and promotion of the Durban Strategy. DCI-P's statement to CRC on September 29, 2007 condemned Israel for “deliberate targeting of civilians” in Lebanon, "terrorizing the civilian population" in Gaza and "collective punishment." It also misrepresented the highly contentious June 9, 2006 Gaza Beach incident. DCI-P claims that the deaths on the beach were caused by "shrapnel from Israeli military shelling," yet the Human Rights Watch investigation that it relies upon, was widely questioned and concluded by calling for an "international investigation." DCI-P notably ignores the effect of intra-Palestinian fighting on children, in its statement to the UN.
International NGO News
Oxfam attributes Palestinian humanitarian situation to "lack of money"
Oxfam's February 21, 2007 press release continued the organization's current trend of interpreting the Palestinian humanitarian situation through a narrow political perspective. It called on the Quartet to end its "boycott" and Israel to release “confiscated taxes.” Oxfam further stated that "[i]nternal conflicts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have been greatly exacerbated by the inability of the PA to deliver essential services because of a lack of money." In its statement, Oxfam ignores Palestinian corruption and financial mismanagement.
Human Rights Watch announces Middle East vacancies
HRW is also seeking a researcher on Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. The advert stresses that candidates must be “able to dispassionately investigate and report on abuses by both Israeli and Palestinian forces without prejudice or favor and despite the intense pressure for partisanship or solidarity that suffuses work on Israeli-Palestinian issues.” The job description requires “excellent skills speaking and reading in both English and Arabic,” but “proficiency in Hebrew is [only] very desirable”.
Given HRW's history of selecting candidates with strong anti-Israel bias, NGO Monitor will closely scrutinize this selection process.
International Crisis Group calls on the international community to engage with Hamas
International Crisis Group, a global NGO “working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict,” issued a report on February 28, 2007, calling on the international community to ease the “political and economic boycott [on the Palestinians] …to allow discussions with the government as a whole and give Hamas an incentive to further moderate its stance.”
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) continues one-sided calls for the application of international law
In an open letter published on February 26, 2007, prior to the meeting of the Association Council between Europe and Israel, EMHRN called on the EU to lift sanctions against the Palestinian Authority. The letter criticized Israel exclusively and obfuscated the difference between Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.
Local NGO News
Adalah proposes new constitution demanding Israel “recognize the right of return”
Adalah issued a report entitled “The Democratic Constitution” on March 6, 2007 calling on Israel “to recognize its responsibility for past injustices suffered by the Palestinian people,[and] … recognize the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.” The proposed constitution also demands that spouses of Israeli citizens be granted automatic citizenship – a right not granted by most countries including France, Britain, and the U.S. Under this Constitution, the State of Israel would no longer be Jewish, but a “democratic, bilingual and multicultural” state, and immigration of Jews would not be permitted unless for "humanitarian reasons."
Irish Aid announces five-year package of support for Christian Aid
On March 8, 2007 Irish Aid, the Irish Government’s development assistance program, announced a 17 million Euro funding package for Christian Aid over the next five years, part of which will be used for projects in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Christian Aid also has a £5m per annum agreement with the UK's Department for International Development until 2009.
Oxfam and European Commission sponsor politicized Bimkom and ACRI conference on "Unrecognised Bedouin villages in Israel"
Oxfam GB and the European Commission sponsored a joint conference by Bimkom, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and the Regional Council of Unrecognized Negev Arab Villages on March 12, 2007 entitled “Negev Arabs: Planning challenges and strategic actions[Translation] which examined the issue of the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev. The conference advertised that it would “explain the State’s plans: those that ignore the Bedouins and those directed at the Bedouins” [Translation]. This conference reflects Oxfam and the EU's continued distortion of the Bedouin issue, as a means to demonize Israel. Oxfam's website features an article "Bedouin land under Israeli air attack," which interviews a Bedouin farmer while mentioning that "[c]onversation is punctuated by the sound of Israeli artillery fire from a nearby training ground, and overflying F-16 jets from a military airbase." No mention is made of the complex legal issues surrounding unrecognised villages, the active participatory role that many Bedouins play in Israeli life and the continued support for the State of Israel expressed by the Bedouin community.
NGO Developments Promoting Universality
NGOS fulfill their remit by appealing to European leaders and the UN to take action regarding Iran’s Human Rights abuses
Physicians for Human Rights- Israel asks Lebanese counterparts to work for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel issued a press release on February 22, 2007 asking its Lebanese counterparts to work towards securing the release of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006. Most NGOs ignored the kidnapping in their condemnations of Israel's response to the Hezbollah attack, and PHR-I's belated statement is a welcome exception.
Al-Haq criticizes Palestinian society’s treatment of women
Mossawa calls for more Arab women to join the work force
An example of genuine human rights promotion, Mossawa sent letters to Knesset members on March 7, 2007, complaining about the lack of Arab women in the work force and calling for a plan to increase their numbers.
Mennonite Central Committee funds genuine humanitarian project by ARIJ, but also supports politicized olive tree campaign
On February 23, 2007, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) announced a $1 million grant to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), for waste water treatment systems for 180 Palestinian homes. ARIJ's politicized and biased agenda is well documented and reflected in its highly political approach to "environmental research," but this MCC project is an example of a genuine humanitarian scheme.
The MCC, however, also supports and publicizes the olive tree planting campaign, run by the East Jerusalem YMCA, an NGO which regularly promotes the Durban Strategy and emphasizes a one-sided Palestinian political agenda. YMCA East Jerusalem's radical approach is reinforced by the MCC description of the campaign: "The whole idea is to use this as a form of non-violent action to protest the violence perpetrated against the Palestinian people." The group also asserts the unsubstantiated claim that “[s]ince 2000, nearly half a million olive trees . . . have been destroyed by the Israeli army.”
“As the work of international NGOs expands . . . . Organisations such as Oxfam, Save the Children and Unicef are now global brands and their work, influencing decisions on huge issues such as trade, environment and human rights, is gaining pace.”