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B'Tselem

Profile

Country/TerritoryIsrael
Websitewww.btselem.org
Founded1989 by “a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members,” largely from the Meretz and Labor Parties.
In their own words“acts primarily to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories and ensure that its government, which rules the Occupied Territories, protects the human rights of residents there and complies with its obligations under international law.”

Funding

Activities

  • Actively pursues its political agenda in the Israeli courts and the Knesset.
  • B’Tselem’s publications reflect its political agenda – “dissent” and opposition to Israeli policy – in contrast to fact-based documentation of human rights violations and sound legal analysis. Under the leadership of Hagai El-Ad, beginning May 2014, dissent was prioritized claiming, “little room is left among the Israeli public to allow for criticism of government policy.”
  • In October 2016, Hagai Elad appeared before a special session of the UN Security Council initiated by Egypt, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Angola, asking the UN to take “decisive international action” against Israel. In his presentation, Elad, and made no mention of Palestinian terror attacks or incitement.

Political Activities

  • Accuses  Israel of “apartheid,” perpetrating “war crimes,” “beating and abus[ing]” Palestinians, “demolition of [Palestinian] houses as punishment,” and forced “deportations.”
  • On November 27, 2017, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad participated in a conference in the French Senate calling for “international action against the occupation…Implementation of Resolution 2334 is a necessary first step in the right direction. In the end, the goal is to present Israel with a compelling choice: end the occupation, or face the consequences of continuing to be a non-democratic occupier.”
  • In October 2017, B’Tselem and Hamoked published a joint report, “Unprotected: The Detention of Palestinian Teenagers in East Jerusalem,” that is part of an international NGO-led campaign of demonization that falsely accused Israel of abusing children’s rights. The publication also suffered from fundamental methodological flaws, highlighting the appropriation of human rights for political objectives.
  • On September 14, 2017, Adam Aloni, a researcher at B’Tselem, participated in a conference in France titled “From the Balfour Declaration to Today: A Colonial Tragedy,” stating that “As long as the occupation continues, Israel cannot be considered a democratic country like other Western countries…without action from the international community, we never seem to end this injustice. It is time to take decisive and non-violent action.”
  • At a June 2017 UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) conference titled “United Nations Forum to Mark Fifty Years of Occupation,” Hagai El-Ad remarked that “[T]his accusation [of antisemitism] is a propaganda line by the Israeli government… this is being deployed systematically as a silencing tool with a very clear agenda. The clear agenda is to successfully perpetuate the occupation while continuing to minimize international consequences…This is an injustice of historical proportions but without similarly appropriate consequences. The world’s conscience rejected slavery. The world’s conscience rejected apartheid. The world’s conscience has yet to reject the occupation.”
  • On February 15, 2017, B’Tselem participated in a Knesset conference on 50 Years of Occupation with the message that “Israel must choose between peace with the Palestinians, and the road to apartheid or war.”
  • In May 2016, B’Tselem published “The Occupation’s Fig Leaf: Israel’s Military Law Enforcement System as a Whitewash Mechanism,” a report that argued, among other things, that “the state ensures that the military law enforcement system will remain in the sole purview of the military… in which only the junior ranks are (ostensibly) investigated, while senior commanders and civilian superiors are absolved of accountability for unlawful acts committed under their authority.” Following the issuance of the report, the organization announced that it “will no longer refer complaints to the Israeli military law enforcement…We will continue reporting violations but will no longer help a whitewash mechanism that also, in advance, absolves senior military and government officials of responsibility for the policy they set out.”
  • On February 24, 2016, B’Tselem, along with HaMoked, released a report “Backed by the System,” funded by the EU, alleging “Abuse and Torture” in Israeli prisons. The claims come from terrorists and suspected terrorists who were imprisoned in late 2013 and early 2014, and who were referred to the NGOs by their relatives. In contrast to the impression created in this report, only 14 of the 116 prisoners complained about “physical violence” during interrogation, and these allegations cannot be independently confirmed.

Supporting 2009 and 2014 UN Investigations

  • B’Tselem contributed to the campaign for a United Nations investigation into Israel regarding the 2014 Gaza War, stating that “Israel’s law enforcement system, in its present form, cannot investigate alleged violations of international law by Israel in its recent operation in Gaza.” B’Tselem called for an investigation “[i]nvolving independent international observers.”
    • Following the release of the UN Commission of Inquiry report (“Schabas/Davis”), B’Tselem criticized Israel for “whitewash[ing] suspected wrongdoings” and blamed “senior government and military officials” for “lethal policy.” NGO Monitor’s review shows that B’Tselem was the most referenced NGO in the report, with 69 citations.
  • B’Tselem, which campaigned for an “independent and credible investigation” of the 2009 Gaza War, “provided assistance to the investigative staff of the Goldstone mission from the beginning to the end of its research.” Following the publication on September 15, 2009, which referenced B’Tselem more than 56 times, B’Tselem continued supporting Goldstone and lobbying the governments of the United States, the European Union, and others to legitimize the report’s extreme biases and endorse its recommendations.

Lack of Verifiable Sources Regarding Fighting in Gaza 2012-2014

  • B’Tselem played a central role in allegations regarding civilian casualties during the 2014 war in Gaza. B’Tselem presented “initial” and “preliminary” data, which were inherently unverifiable and based solely on information from Palestinian sources in Hamas-controlled Gaza. As the Israeli member of the UNOCHA NGO “Protection Cluster,” B’Tselem provided the appearance of credulity to the casualty claims disseminated by UNRWA/OCHA officials and repeated widely by journalists, political leaders, and others.
  • On September 20, 2016, B’Tselem published a report titled, “Whitewash Protocol: The So-Called Investigation of Operation Protective Edge,” arguing that the IDF investigations are illegitimate because “there has been no investigation of policy issues, including the policy of targeting inhabited homes, which resulted in the Israeli military killing hundreds of people….” On this basis, they argue that in the IDF, “there is no accountability [], only whitewashing.”
    • As documented by NGO Monitor, B’Tselem’s arguments in this report were fundamentally flawed and not fact-based nor legally-based.
  • Two years after the 2014 Gaza war, B’Tselem published what it claimed was “data [] based on a meticulous, exhaustive investigation” into the identities of over 2,200 reported Palestinian fatalities during that conflict, and the circumstances of their deaths. B’Tselem states that the number of fatalities “casts doubt on Israel’s claim that all the targets were legitimate and that the military adhered to the principle of proportionality during the attacks and took precautions to reduce harm to civilians.” B’Tselem, however, presented faulty information on civilian casualties in alleged attacks against “families bombed at home,” such as misleadingly portraying a number of combatants as innocent civilians.
  • On January 28, 2015, published a report, “Black Flag: The legal and moral implication of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip,” falsely alleging that there was a “black flag of illegality flying over” Israeli military tactics during the 2014 Gaza War. The report was an expansion of a highly inflammatory infographic during the war on “Families bombed at home, Gaza, July-August 2014. ”As extensively documented by NGO Monitor, the report and corresponding infographic were not based on facts, evidence, or serious legal analysis

Employees

  • On November 2, 2017, International Advocacy Officer Sarit Michaeli implied that Israel is to blame for sexual abuse of children in Gaza. Commenting on a Ha’aretz article in which a Palestinian psychologist claimed that “more than a third of the children I saw in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza told me that they had been sexually abused,” Michaeli tweeted, “Two million people locked in a big prison for a decade, and they freak out. Who would believe it?”
  • On January 8, 2016, Israeli investigative news program “Uvda” featured an expose showing B’Tselem employee Nasser Nawaja and Ezra Nawi, a radical activist from the NGO “Ta’ayush,” discussing informing the Palestinian Authority security services about a Palestinian man who allegedly intended to sell land to Jews in the West Bank. The sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death under Palestinian law, and according to Nawi, suspects are tortured and then killed.
  • In 2014, journalist Tuvia Tenenbom published a book, “Catch the Jew,” in which he recounts a conversation with B’Tselem “researcher” Atef Abu a-Rub, who accused Germany of “giving money to the Jews” and then referred to the Holocaust as “a lie.”
  • Former CEO Jessica Montell has said: “I think the word apartheid is useful for mobilizing people because of its emotional power. In some cases, the situation in the West Bank is worse than apartheid in South Africa.”
  • In April 2010, staff member and NGO activist Lizi Sagie resigned after the organization came under pressure for statements made on her personal blog, including: “The IDF Memorial Day is a pornographic circus of glorifying grief and silencing voices,” “Israel is committing Humanity’s worst atrocities…Israel is proving its devotion to Nazi values…Israel exploits the Holocaust to reap international benefits.”

Partners

  • B’Tselem is a member organization of Fédération Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), a Paris-based association of international NGOs that is active in anti-Israel BDS campaigns worldwide. The FIDH, which is funded by multiple European governments, is a major leader of BDS campaigns worldwide. The group, composed of 178 member organizations, supported campaigns including the BDS campaign against Orange (2015), promoted the EU product labeling guidelines, and participated in the NGO campaign at the UN Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry targeting Israel following the 2014 Gaza War.
  • Member of the “Displacement Work Group,” an initiative of Badil and OCHA to “monitor human rights violations (evictions, home demolitions, land confiscations) resulting in the displacement of people from their lands and communities,” along with: Addameer, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, AIC, ARIJ, Badil, BIMKOM, CARE Intnl., DCI – Palestine section, Diakonia, EAPPI, Ir Amim, ICAHD, Maan Development Ctr, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam UK, Oxfam Solidarite – Belgium, PA Govt. Spokesperson, PCHR, RHR, Society of St. Yves, Save the Children UK, Shatil, UNFPA, Stop the Wall, ACRI, UNFPA, WCLAC, World Vision, and Yesh Din.

Foreign donations based on financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non Profits (amounts in NIS)

Data from 2015-2017 are based on quarterly reports

Donor20172016201520142013
Bread for the World (Germany)**796,627740,562618,862286,637
DanChurch Aid166,103169,155182,500512,544732,227
Diakonia (Sweden)72,338182,780124,426271,631
UNICEF76,626158,237300,958
World Vision70,351
European Union297,213436,2401,431,048418,896383,966
France124,008130,21971,42947,619
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands)*2,305,029909,552917,946447,517583,149
Norway 673,612689,275687,128824,550946,477
Switzerland40,000
UK326,160
Netherlands7,115135,177
Trocaire99,63082,715104,33172,111
Catholic Relief Services (US)464,591413,753316,530554,446463,715
Christian Aid Ireland286,639168,168171,821187,564188,920
EED (Germany)34,010111,957523,788
Front Line Bol19,293
UN-OCHA128,728206,465
UNDP229,843317,606147,955717,358
UNWomen234,925
ZIVIK (Germany)352,392170,104
Broederlijk Delen8,694
FIDH12,103

*Until 2014, NDC managed the pooled finances of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands through its Human Rights/Good Governance program; In 2014, NDC was replaced by NIRAS and Birzeit University, which are managing the government funding under the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat.

** On August 30, 2012, Brot für die Welt merged with the Church Development Service (Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst-EED) and formed “Brot für die Welt – Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst” (Bread for the World – Evangelical Church Development Service), as part of the new Evangelical Agency for Diakonia and Development (Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung).

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