To whom it may concern,
I am addressing you as a signatory of the June 19, 2015 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the treatment of Palestinian youths detained by Israel. It has been widely reported that several NGOs active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement were behind the extensive lobbying regarding the letter. These organizations include American Friends Services Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Amnesty International USA, Pax Christi USA, and Churches for Middle East Peace.
BDS is a form of political warfare the exploits the language of human rights and applies double standards in order to attack the State of Israel. This movement inflames tensions and hampers efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians by systematically demonizing Israel. Many prominent voices have commented that the BDS movement is antisemitic in effect, if not in intent.
Trade Promotion Authority legislation recently passed by Congress requires US negotiators to make rejection of BDS a principal trade objective in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the European Union. Similarly, multiple state legislatures have passed legislation opposing boycotts of Israel.
Additionally, UNICEF’s 2013 report, “Children in Israeli Military Detention: Observations and Recommendations,” cited in the letter, suffers from methodological flaws that likely color its conclusions. In the section on the treatment of Palestinians in Israeli detention centers and during judicial hearings, no official Israeli sources are quoted. Thus, only one point of view is presented and there is an absence of information that may serve to refute, condition or provide context for the allegations made by UNICEF.
Troublingly, UNICEF quotes political advocacy NGOs such as Machsom Watch and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, fringe organizations that advocate for a very narrow agenda, while voices within the mainstream political debate are excluded. Despite the many flaws of UNICEF’s report, Israel has taken significant steps to improve the judicial mechanisms relevant to juvenile Palestinians, as UNICEF itself attests to in subsequent reports on the issue. It should also be noted that the number of Palestinian juveniles detained by Israel is several orders of magnitude lower than in the United States, the UK, and other Western countries.
While recognizing the importance of human rights in general and the rights of children in particular, Congress must be aware of the agendas of the organizations behind this campaign as well as their lack of credibility. NGOs advancing BDS should not be recognized as legitimate partners for cooperation and collaboration. As a result, we urge you to retract your signature from this letter.