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Kristof (New York Times) Amplifies the NGO Halo Effect
- New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof authored three op-eds about his trip to Israel and the West Bank, “The Human Stain” (Feb 26),“The Two Israels” (Feb 28) and “Winds of War in Gaza” (March 7, 2015).
- As with previous excursions to the region (such as in 2010), Kristof’s narrative is exclusively informed by being accompanied by political advocacy NGOs such as B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Gisha. (His other writings on Israel are likewise informed by the NGO narrative.)
- Despite their self-identification as human rights organizations, these NGOs are in reality ideological and political opposition groups.
- B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Gisha do not have a credible fact-finding methodology, or the ability to make conclusive factual or legal claims, as documented systematically in NGO Monitor reports. Yet Kristof refers to “Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group,” in supporting the claim that “the allegations” (which are made by B’Tselem) concerning the supposed “expulsion of Palestinians from wide areas of their agricultural land in the West Bank” are “fully credible.”
- B’Tselem’s stated mission is to “educate the Israeli public and policymakers,” and Rabbis for Human Rights’ is “to inform the Israeli public about human rights violations, and to pressure the State institutions to redress these injustices.” However, as seen in Kristof’s articles, many of their activities target foreign audiences with little knowledge or direct access to different narratives, such as journalists and diplomats, in order to achieve their political goals outside the Israeli democratic system.
- Kristoff’s article on Negev Bedouin repeats a distorted and factually inaccurate narrative supplied by Rabbis for Human Rights and other ideological groups. For example, the labeling of the Bedouin as “indigenous inhabitants” is entirely ideological, with no basis in fact. As noted in the detailed academic publication by Frantzman,Yahel, and Kark, the description of Bedouins as “indigenous” is relatively recent and is used by political NGOs to promote allegations regarding “displacement” and “oppressing Arabs.”
- Regarding Gaza, Kristof quotes Gisha, which claims that “it’s ridiculous for Israel to insist that the ongoing economic stranglehold is essential for security.” Gisha’s stated mission is to “protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents,” and in practice, advocates for the elimination of any restrictions on Hamas-controlled Gaza. However, like B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights, Gisha employs highly biased and politicized rhetoric, as well as false and distorted legal claims, in order to promote its ideological agenda. In Gisha’s analysis, Hamas does not exist or is treated like a benign force.
- Kristof, like the NGOs he promotes, asserts that Palestinian terror would cease if Israel’s presence in the West Bank ended, thereby erasing Palestinian rejectionism and incitement: “The violence, of course, cuts both ways, and some Israeli settlers have been murdered by Palestinians. I just as easily could have talked to settler children traumatized by Palestinian violence. But that’s the point: As long as Israel maintains these settlements, illegal in the eyes of most of the world, both sides will suffer.”