The first edition of NGO Monitor heavily criticized Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) – a separate organization from Physicians for Human Rights – of politicization in its human rights work. It brought to attention an eight-page color report that produced a simplistic and unbalanced approach whose main objective was to put Israel in a bad light. The report revealed this was the latest in a series of slanted reports and press releases indicating that the organization’s activities contravened its mission statement and therefore mislead funders.
The Israel Medical Association (IMA) has now officially accused the NGO of politicization. This is having serious ramifications. For example, the Israeli army recently decided to provide its reserve soldiers with human rights training programs and considered using the NGO. The Chairman of the Doctors’ Union, Yoram Belsher, has now decided not to carry on its partnership with the NGO in training reserve army doctors. He believes that the NGO has “politicized its activities at the expense of providing medical services in the territories.”
The move was taken in the wake of criticism, such as that found in the NGO Monitor report, and confirmed by an advertisement that appeared in the newspaper, Haaretz. The advertisement declared, “The organization will only work with doctors who resist the occupation.” The Haaretz newspaper also quoted Tomer Poper, the Director General of the NGO as saying that “since the Intifada, the Medical Union is supporting the policies of occupation in the territories.”
An article by Hayim Shadmi writing in the daily Israeli newspaper Haaretz on February 23, 2003, provided much of the information for this report.