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Rights Forum

Profile

Country/TerritoryNetherlands
Websitehttp://www.rightsforum.org/english
FoundedDecember 2009 by former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt.
In their own wordsA “knowledge center on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and as a network of previous ministers and jurists that are committed to a solution of the conflict based on international law.”

Funding

  • The Rights Forum does not release financial details or donation amounts, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
  • According to information released by donors,  Rockefeller Brothers Fund provided $40,000 to Rights Forum in 2016.

Background

  • Rights Forum is a Dutch organization, established by former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt, which describes itself as a “knowledge center on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and as a network of previous ministers and jurists that are committed to a solution of the conflict based on international law.” Claims that it was created in response to alleged “unwavering” Dutch support for alleged Israeli violations of international law. It lobbies the Dutch government and the EU to promote the Palestinian agenda.
  • According to its website, the Forum “monitor[s] Dutch politics and reveal[s] what positions politicians take regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and “record[s] violations of international law which the parties commit and report on these.”
  • Lobbies government officials, engages in “fact-finding missions,” sends briefings to the Dutch parliament alleging Israeli violations of human rights, publishes reports, and attempts to influence Dutch and EU policy.
  • Website provides inaccurate information on issues such as “Palestinian water problems,” “Violence,” refugees, and Gaza.

Activities

  • Freedom for Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Sa’afin.”
  • Supported the July 2017 UNESCO recognition of Hebron as “Palestine on the World Heritage site” denying a formal Jewish connection to the city. In its statement, Rights Forum also praised a previous UNESCO resolution that denies any historical Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem.
  • Claimed the “world continues to passively watch the suffering Palestinians [in Gaza] because it is finally empty of Jews” (June 2017).
  • Criticized the European Parliament in May 2017 for calling on Member States to “adopt and apply” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, claiming that it will “politicize the fight against anti-Semitism and threatens freedom of expression.”
  • Launched a media campaign during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the Netherlands in September 2016, including calls for Netanyahu’s prosecution at the ICC.
  • A 2015 illustrated report falsely accused Israel of causing suffering to “many Palestinian villages due to a distressing lack of water.” The report also noted Islamic holy sites but made no reference to any Jewish historical or religious ties to Israel.
  • Van Agt introduced a civil initiative in Parliament in 2013, “Demolish the Wall,” claiming the Netherlands has an obligation to impose sanctions on Israel.

Lawfare

  • In June 2017, attorney and board member Liesbeth Zegveld attempted to file a civil lawsuit in a Dutch court against former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israel Air Force Commander Amir Eshel, accusing them of war crimes.
  • In 2010, Zegveld filed a criminal complaint against the Dutch corporation Riwal, alleging its complicit[y] in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity through its construction of the Annexation Wall, ‘the Wall,’ and illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank.” The complaint was brought on behalf of the radical anti-Israel NGO Al-Haq.

BDS Activities

Key People

  • Founder and honorary chairman of Rights Forum, Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt .
    • Van Agt maintains that “Europe owes a special debt to the Palestinians because they are the victims of victims of the Holocaust.” He also argues that “The European and Dutch boycott of Hamas is wrong and even stupid…We automatically pardon the occupier and sanction the occupied nation.”
    • Van Agt also blamed Israel for the lack of democracy in the Arab world.
  • Director Martin Siepermann previously worked as Middle East project officer at Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO).
    • In 2012, Siepermann participated in a parliamentary debate on Dutch policy towards Israel stating, “Israel is never held accountable and never put under pressure to end its systematic and serious human rights violations or to substantially reduce it.”
    • In 2006, Siepermann wrote an article accusing the Dutch company Lima Holding BV of involvement “in the construction of the illegal Wall that Israel is building.”
  • Members of the board maintain close connections to anti-Israel NGOs, including Sabeel, Al-Haq, and ICCO. These groups support BDS campaigns, deny the Jewish people’s connections to Israel, and support legal attacks (“lawfare”) against Israel.
  • Advisory board member Jan Pronk was the previous Chairman of IKV (The Interchurch Peace Summit), now known as IKV Pax Christi. Pronk was a guest speaker at the “Hour of Truth,” a conference aimed at promoting the Kairos Palestine document. He has publicly supported the Kairos Palestine Document, which calls for BDS against Israel, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and blames Israel solely for the continuation of the conflict. Its purpose is to rally churches globally to support BDS, delegitimization, and demonization directed at the State of Israel.
  • Advisory board member John Dugard has spearheaded many initiatives singling out Israel.
    • In 2009, he was responsible for a report funded by the South African government claiming to prove that Israel is an “apartheid” and “colonial” state. The report advocated the imposition of sanctions on Israel and called for another ICJ advisory opinion to find that Israel was engaging in the crimes of apartheid and colonialism.
    • As the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, he was criticized for promoting a so-called “right of resistance.”
  • Board member Mouin Rabbani was formerly employed by the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, a global leader in anti-Israel “lawfare” and BDS. Advisory board member Hans van den Broek is the former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and former EU Commissioner for Foreign Relations.
  • Van Den Broek was involved in organizing the 2012 NGO report “Trading Away Peace,” which called for economic sanctions against Israel and other forms of political warfare. In the introduction, van den Broek stated that the “decisive” factor for the stagnation in the peace process is “Israel’s incessant settlement policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
  • In addition, many board members have spoken at conferences and gatherings organized by radical organizations, including Sabeel, which is very active in promoting efforts to gain support of Christian churches for BDS campaign. Sabeel supports a “one state,” framework, meaning the end of Israel as a Jewish state, and employs antisemitic themes and imagery in its political attacks against Israel.

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