Dear NGO Monitor,
Your "special edition" on the Mezan Center and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project saddened me. I worked at Al Mezan for 5 months in 2002. They are not anti-Semitic. They also regularly, and with great vigor, criticize the anti-democratic practices of the PA, violence against civilians, and terrorism. I know because I wrote the English version of the press releases (and much of the "mission statement" from which you quote below).
It is a terrible shame that an organization such as yours accepts at face value the unsubstantiated charges of a deeply racist, blindly pro-Israel organization here in Madison (I refer to the MJCC or at least its Executive Board). A sister city between Madison and Rafah, where Al Mezan has served as a welcome intermediary to help us establish contacts, is a positive step towards allowing Palestinians a voice here in the US, with the help of their friends (many of us Jewish and all of us supportive of a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians).
Your organization is merely contributing to the skewing of a constructive project in the hopes that you can drown out any and all criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. In so doing you hurt badly needed humanitarian goals as well. This is bad for the Jews, and for Israel above all. It is a terrible shame you cannot see this.
Reply July 5, 2004 (www.ngo-monitor.org):
Dear Ms. Lowenstein,
Thank you for your letter regarding NGO Monitor’s analysis of the Palestinian NGO known as Al Mezan. Every quote in this analysis was carefully referenced and based on the material published by Al Mezan, while, in contrast, your letter does not provide a single counter example. Furthermore, your claims regarding the sources of our information are entirely mistaken and suggest a bitter personal agenda that is outside of the purview of NGO Monitor. It should be noted that the mission statement that you authored, like those of many similar such PLO-linked NGOs, may be exploited to raise funds from well-intentioned donors, but is entirely inconsistent with the actions and policies pursued by Al Mezan to demonize Israel and justify mass murder and terror bombings. If you have substantive evidence that Al Mezan is not part of the Palestinian NGO network of incitement and hatred as exhibited in the 2001 Durban conference, and that this NGO has taken a strong stand against terror, we invite you to provide the details.
There are clearly major gaps in perceptions with respect to the causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict that has taken so many lives in the past century, but it is grossly immoral to use such differences in order to justify the terror and murder of Israelis. Such actions also embody the antithesis of the mutual acceptance, compromise and peace that you and the members of the highly politicized NGO network such as Al Mezan claim to promote.
Gerald M. Steinberg
Editor, NGO Monitor