From the first day (July 8) of Israel’s response to renewed and deadly rocket attacks from Gaza, the network of highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) went into high gear. As in previous conflicts, powerful global groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam, allied with numerous Israeli and Palestinian organizations claiming human rights agendas, are issuing numerous condemnations, primarily directed at Israel. And once again, their reports and statements are quoted by political leaders and journalists without any independent examination, reinforcing existing biases and false allegations, and fuelling hate and violence.
Human Rights Watch, whose leaders have a long history of personal animosity, double-standards and false claims regarding Israel, repeated their accusations of “war crimes,” unlawful attacks and “targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war.” These claims are invented and inconsistent with legal foundations and HRW positions in other conflict regions around the world – these attacks on Israel are unique. And while HRW bases its factual claims on “investigations” in Gaza, it is clear that the organization has no such capability.
Among Israeli groups, B’tselem has been particularly active in this round of political warfare. The NGO, with an annual budget of NIS 9 million, provided by donors such as the New Israel Fund and European governments, has issued numerous press releases, statements, and social media posts repeatedly accusing Israel of “unlawful” actions, and “illegal bombing.” Like HRW, B’tselem refers to its “investigations,” although the group has no such independent capability, and instead simply repeats unverifiable “testimonies” from Hamas-controlled Gaza. B’tselem, like HRW and Amnesty, has no way of determining whether the IDF is striking entirely legitimate military targets, whether the force used is proportionate to the military necessity, or the real number of civilian casualties in Gaza.
This strategy of using NGOs that operate under the umbrella of human rights and humanitarian aid to condemn Israel was spelled out at the infamous 2001 UN Durban Conference.
The height of this process was the 2009 Goldstone Report – a 500 page document, which claimed to provide extensive evidence of Israeli human rights violations and “war crimes” during the Gaza conflict (Operation Cast Lead) that began on December 28 2008. This UN publication extensively referenced B’tselem, Amnesty, HRW, and many other NGOs. Although the entire report was later discredited, and Judge Goldstone acknowledged that the NGO-based allegations were unsupported, the impact, in terms of fueling boycotts and “lawfare” cases against Israeli officials, continues.
Nevertheless, during the current conflict, the same NGOs are again promoting the “war crimes” theme, and this form of the modern anti-Semitic blood libel is repeated in violent protests, particularly in Europe. Nothing seems to have been learned from the mistakes of the past, as these organizations and their funder-enablers continue to erode the very universal principles of human rights that they claim to uphold.