Summary: PHR-I´s political activities, under the facade of human rights and humanitarian rhetoric, continue unabated, with attacks on Israeli policy the dominant theme in support of the Palestinian position.
In previous editions NGO Monitor has examined Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s claims to be non-partisan, concluding that the organization’s clear political objectives are in violation of its mission statement.
Indeed, PHR-I’s political activities, under the facade of human rights and humanitarian rhetoric, have continued unabated, and the one-sided attacks on Israeli policy are clearly the dominant theme. PHR-I’s reports and publications consistently demonstrate the lack of context that reflects this political and ideological objective. A 16 August 2004 report on the Rafah Crossing criticizes restrictions on Palestinians attempting to pass through the crossing, again using the evocative political term "collective punishment". However, there is no attempt to define this concept, or distinguish it from entirely legitimate and necessary security measures to prevent terror and avoid loss of life. This is also the case in a May 2004 joint report with Machsom Watch, "The Bureaucracy of Occupation" which focuses on District Coordination Offices (DCOs) responsible for issuing travel permits to the Palestinian population. Without even mentioning terrorism or Israel’s basic right to self-defense, the report states that "The denial of freedom of movement is a human rights violation". PHR-I also displays its political goals through its partnership with Machsom Watch, an organization that openly expresses its political orientation and uses emotive and politically charged language that contributes to the demonization of Israel.
PHR-I continues to work with other highly politicized NGOs, adding its name to a 19 May 2004 advertisement in Ha’aretz and Al-Quds newspapers that focused very narrowly on the situation in Rafah in Gaza. The sponsors included many of the most pro-Palestinian NGOs, including Adalah, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Al-Haq, HaMoked, I’lam, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
In addition, PHR-I continues to rely on Palestinian sources despite their questionable credibility. For example, a 31 August 2004 press statement "Soldiers fire at ambulance in Gaza; doctor and driver wounded" claims that "According to information given…by Palestinian medical organizations in Gaza…the soldiers suddenly, and with no prior warning, opened fire."
PHR-I’s one-sided condemnations of Israel also appeared in a press statement concerning IDF operations in the northern Gaza Strip. This statement, originally published on 3 October 2004, was however, removed in the period immediately preceeding NGO Monitor’s analysis. The statement virtually ignored the context behind the operation to prevent the firing of Qassam missiles into Israel, with only a brief mention that "Palestinian militants have also attacked Israeli civilians and, for example, 2 children were killed in Sderot last week."
Despite its exploitation of medical and human rights in the pursuit of a politicized agenda, PHR-I continues to list a number of high-profile donors, including the European Commission, the Finnish Embassy in Tel Aviv, Christian Aid, the Ford Foundation, and the New Israel Fund. (In response to a query from NGO Monitor, NIF stated that "PHR-I is on NIF’s donor advised list, which means that NIF acts only as fiscal agent for contributions to the organization.")
In summary, PHR-I and its donors continue to exploit the rhetoric of universal human rights in pursuit of a blatantly politicized agenda in opposition to the policies of the Israeli government, and in support of the Palestinian position.