The year 2017 will mark three significant anniversaries related to the Arab-Israeli conflict: 50 years since the Six-Day War (June), 70 years since the UN’s Partition Plan vote (November), and 100 years since the Balfour Declaration (November).
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have already begun campaigns to exploit these symbolic moments for international demonization and delegitimization of Israel. In our estimation, these efforts will intensify as the respective anniversaries draw near, and activists use them to lend artificial urgency and resonance for their agendas.
NGO Monitor has compiled a list, provided below, of the specific NGO campaigns identified to date; the rhetoric of “50 years” is even more widespread. Campaigns include lobbying of European governments to implement sanctions against Israel, calls on pension funds and corporations to divest from Israeli entities, and attempts to generate indictments at the International Criminal Court.
Given the ever-expanding industry of NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the vast amounts of dollars, euros, pounds, and kroner disbursed to political advocacy groups, the number and scope of these campaigns will surely grow.
We will continually update this list as new information is uncovered.
- Breaking the Silence – A book project titled Kingdom of Olives and Ash, to be published by Harper-Collins “to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, this anthology explores the human cost of the conflict as witnessed by…notable writers…in collaboration with Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence.”
- Breaking the Silence led tours for several delegations of authors, including Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman who are the volume’s editors.
- Work on this project began in November 2014, and the book has already received significant media attention, including articles in the Washington Post, and the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Forward.
- The book appears is part of the next stage in Breaking the Silence’s campaign to create international pressure on Israel. As documented by NGO Monitor, instead of attempting to open the eyes of “Israeli society [which] continues to turn a blind eye” to the situation created by the occupation, this NGO is spending most of its resources on speaking abroad, or on foreign visitors to Israel.
- United Nations and NGOs: In conjunction with NGOs and the Group of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and various repressive regimes, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is creating a blacklist of “business enterprises allegedly involved in” “directly and indirectly, enabl[ing], facilitat[ing] and profit[ing] from the construction and growth of the settlements.”
- The criteria for inclusion on the list are vastly expansive, and there is no indication that the UN is capable of the objectivity necessary to avoid discrimination and the due diligence needed to avoid mistakes.
- In a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council meeting that demanded the blacklist, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, BADIL, Jerusalem CAC, Addameer, and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies called for the creation of “a list of businesses that are profiting from settlement activities and take steps to end this illegal practice (sic).”
- Human Rights Watch (HRW) was “pleased to submit recommendations” to help create the database, and interpreted the criteria in a more expanded manner “to include locating or carrying out activities inside settlements and financing, administering, or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure, including by contracting to purchase settlement-manufactured goods or agricultural produce.” HRW also listed three specific institutions, two companies and FIFA because it “allow[s] (sic) the IFA (Israel Football Association) to organize games inside settlements.”
- “As Palestinians enter the 50th year of the occupation, the international community must move beyond empty condemnations and begin to take real, concrete action that will have an immediate impact on Israel’s unlawful policies. A ban on settlement products, along with other measures which target Israel’s settlement enterprise, must be implemented.”
- World Council of Churches (WCC)
- “Recommends that the WCC convene an international ecumenical conference in 2017, marking the 50th anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, and the 10th anniversary of the ‘Amman Call’, in order to reaffirm and strengthen ecumenical witness for peace with justice for Israelis and Palestinians.”
- 10th annual conference (March 7-13), “Jesus Christ Liberator – Then and Now: Facing the Legacy of Injustice.”
- According to Sabeel’s conference materials, “To what extent did Balfour’s entrenched Christian Zionism influence his political decision? The Balfour Declaration was certainly the first spark that the Zionists needed to launch their unending and unrelenting vicious scheme against the Palestinian Arabs.”
- “Judaism has been hijacked away from its ethical values by Zionist ideology that places more value on land than people or peace, and that threatens the very existence of Palestinian Arabs.”
- Palestinian Return Centre
- “Balfour Apology Campaign is a UK based campaign which was launched by the Palestinian Return Centre in 2013 to urge the British establishment to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration.”
- A web documentary purporting to show “the impact of the Israeli policies on the lives of Bedouins living in Area C by telling the stories of people facing settler violence, forcible displacement, violations by Israeli authorities.”
- Pax Christi
- Pax Christi International member Arab Educational Institute issued a “call to artists worldwide”: “To commemorate this symbolic year and to give momentum to the public challenge of occupation and the demand for the implementation of the legal rights of the Palestinian people, AEI and Palestine Link wish to make an appeal to artists worldwide to prepare a performance or artistic product about the theme of “occupation.”
- “November Stories”
- A crowdfunded book of “50 testimonials…that appeared in the media or in the publications of human rights organizations – 50 Palestinian representations…. and 50 writers analyzing key terms.”
- The project is headed by NGO activist Ishai Menuchin.
- Authors include Yuli Novak of Breaking the Silence, Michael Sfard of Yesh Din (and others), Rami Elchanan and Bassem Aramein from Parents Circle, Sari Bashi from Human Rights Watch (and formerly from Gisha), Efrat Cohen-Bar from Bimkom, and Dani Filc from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.