On October 7, 2008, NGO Monitor held a press conference to introduce the research monograph entitled NGO “Lawfare”: The Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict. This publication is a detailed analysis of the role of NGOs in the abuse of European and US courts for political “lawfare” – the use of legal methods to achieve military goals. In parallel to their other political campaigns, these groups have initiated criminal and civil cases against Israeli officials using false claims of “war crimes.”
NGO Monitor´s forty-page monograph provides the first in-depth study of this important issue, and reveals the central role of NGOs in promoting the expansion (and subsequent abuse) of “universal jurisdiction” statutes worldwide; the creation of the “lawfare” strategy against Israel at the infamous 2001 Durban Conference; and the leading role NGOs have played in these cases. The report also documents how the main perpetrators of NGO “lawfare”, such as PCHR and Al Haq, are funded by the European Commission, many European governments, the Ford Foundation and George Soros´ Open Society Institute.
Panelists at the press conference included Professor Gerald Steinberg, Executive Director of NGO Monitor; Maj. Gen. (Res) Doron Almog, former IDF head of Southern Command and the target of multiple “lawfare” cases; and Irit Kohn, former Director of the International Affairs Department at Israel’s Ministry of Justice and lead defense counsel for Ariel Sharon when he was prosecuted by NGOs in Belgium.
In his remarks, Prof. Steinberg contextualized the specific research about “lawfare” within the larger NGO assault against Israel: as part of the “Durban strategy” of demonizing and isolating Israel, NGOs manipulate international legal terminology and exploit the rhetoric of human rights to accomplish their political goals. Doron Almog recommended that the Israeli government increase its efforts in pre-empting and restricting international legislation that facilitates “lawfare,” and suggested a counter-strategy of pressing trials in European and international courts against terrorist leaders and supporters. And in her remarks, Irit Kohn discussed the important distinction between international courts and the more controversial universal jurisdiction, and reflected upon her personal experience in the Belgium case against Ariel Sharon.
Media coverage of NGO Monitor´s launch event and the monograph included:
- “Watchdog: NGOs manipulate judicial systems to demonize Israel,” Ynetnews.com, October 13, 2008.
- “´NGOs exploit int´l law to bash Israel,´” Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2008.
- “NGO Monitor published its latest report…” Radio interview with Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Kol Yisrael in English, October 8, 2008.
- “Prof. Gerald Steinberg – Yesterday in Jerusalem NGO Monitor published…” Radio interview, Morning news roundup, Reshet Bet, October 8, 2008.
- News item on NGO Monitor´s research, Yisrael Plus News (Radio), October 7, 2008.
- “´´?????? ???? ????? ?????? ???? ????” [The government is not demanding Gilad Shalit´s rights] Ruti Avraham, News 1, October 7, 2008.
- “??????? ?? ???????? ?????? ??????” [NGOs are harming Israel] Chezki Ezra, Israel National News, October 7, 2008.
NGO “Lawfare” is part of the NGO Monitor Monograph Series. Previous titles in this seriesinclude Europe´s Hidden Hand: EU Funding for Political NGOs in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which continues to impact the discourse surrounding European support for NGOs operating in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.