Rights Forum


FoundedDecember 2009 by former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt.
In their own wordsA “knowledge center on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and as a network of previous ministers and jurists that are committed to a solution of the conflict based on international law.”


  • The Rights Forum does not release financial details or donation amounts, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
  • According to information released by donors,  Rockefeller Brothers Fund provided $80,000 to the Rights Forum in 2021-2023.


  • Rights Forum is a Dutch organization, established by former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt, which describes itself as a “knowledge center on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and as a network of previous ministers and jurists that are committed to a solution of the conflict based on international law.” Claims that it was created in response to alleged “unwavering” Dutch support for alleged Israeli violations of international law. It lobbies the Dutch government and the EU to promote the Palestinian agenda.
  • According to its website, the Forum “monitor[s] Dutch politics and reveal[s] what positions politicians take regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and “record[s] violations of international law which the parties commit and report on these.”
  • Lobbies government officials, engages in “fact-finding missions,” sends briefings to the Dutch parliament alleging Israeli violations of human rights, publishes reports, and attempts to influence Dutch and EU policy.
  • Website provides inaccurate information on issues such as “Palestinian water problems,” “Violence,” refugees, and Gaza.
  • In 2019, the Rights Forum and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) launched the European Legal Support Center, an initiative aimed at “defending individuals and organizations that face false and defamatory accusations of antisemitism and repression because of their support for Palestinian rights and particularly for BDS measures to achieve these rights.”

Political Advocacy

  • In February 2023, the Rights Forum published an article claiming that “The ‘IHRA definition of anti-Semitism’ is not a definition, but a political weapon.” According to the Rights Forum, “The ‘IHRA definition of anti-Semitism’ is mainly used to suppress Israel-critical voices… The destructive definition belongs on the scrap heap.”
    • In November 2018, the Rights Forum referred to the IHRA definition as a “political instrument to suppress criticism of Israel’s Palestinian politics as ‘anti-Semitic’. The definition serves not so much the protection of Jews, but above all that of Israel’s policy of occupation, colonization and domination.”
    • The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by nearly 30 countries and counting, represents the international consensus definition of antisemitism, as well as how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. An example of the latter includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • In January 2023, following a terrorist attack that killed seven Israeli civilians outside a Jerusalem synagogue, the Rights Forum published a statement denying that the murder of Jews at a synagogue constituted antisemitism. According to the Rights Forum, “The attack in Jerusalem is rightly condemned from many quarters, including by the Dutch ambassador in Tel Aviv. Violence against civilians is in all cases reprehensible. However, the ambassador goes too far by speaking of an ‘anti-Semitic attack’. There is no indication whatsoever of an anti-Semitic motive, and in the current highly volatile climate in Israel/Palestine, such framing is irresponsible.”
  • In August 2022, the Rights Forum signed a joint statement condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. The statement called for the international community to “take effective measures to end all other actions that deny Palestinians their inalienable human rights” and to “their support and increase funding to the organizations and engage with financial institutions to ensure the transfer of funds to the organizations.”
  • In May 2021, the Rights Forum published an article titled “Apartheid, made possible by the Netherlands.” According to the article, “Israel commits crimes against humanity, and the Netherlands is partly to blame… The Netherlands and many other countries continue to strengthen ties with Israel, and watch with arms folded as it violates the fundamental rights of millions of Palestinians in often extremely violent ways, generation after generation.”
  • In May 2021, the Rights Forum shared an article on its website titled “Can you call Israel’s population policy ‘ethnic cleansing’?” According to the article, “Some apparently doubt that this would have actually happened, and are apparently unaware of the large-scale ethnic cleansing that has taken place in Palestine and later Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
  • In June 2020, the Rights Forum posted an article commemorating the death of Razan al-Najjar. The Rights Forum repeated the unfounded claim that a 21-year-old female medical volunteer, Razan Najjar, was intentionally killed by an Israeli sniper. The Rights Forum ignored that an extensive New York Times article examining the case concluded that Najjar was accidentally killed by shrapnel from a ricocheting bullet.
  • In May 2019, the Rights Forum hosted UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Palestinian Territories Michael Lynk to discuss “Human Rights and Doing Business Under Occupation.”
  • In 2019, the Rights Forum launched a petition titled “Don’t let Israel get away with excessive violence in Gaza!” According to the petition, “Israeli military personnel violated international humanitarian law and universal human rights by firing live ammunition at Palestinian demonstrators” and the government of Netherlands must “suspend any form of cooperation and exchange of knowledge with the Israeli military, police and / or security forces.” The petition ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
  • In October 2017, The Rights Forum used the word “razzia” to describe the arrests of terror suspects by Israel.
  • In October 2017, the Rights Forum claimed that the Israeli army locks children into cages, based on unverified allegations made by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).
  • In July 2017, the Rights Forum launched a campaign calling for “Freedom for Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Sa’afin.”
  • Supported the July 2017 UNESCO recognition of Hebron as “Palestine on the World Heritage site” denying a formal Jewish connection to the city. In its statement, Rights Forum also praised a previous UNESCO resolution that denies any historical Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem.
  • Claimed the “world continues to passively watch the suffering Palestinians [in Gaza] because it is finally empty of Jews” (June 2017).
  • Criticized the European Parliament in May 2017 for calling on Member States to “adopt and apply” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, claiming that it will “politicize the fight against anti-Semitism and threatens freedom of expression.”
  • Launched a media campaign during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the Netherlands in September 2016, including calls for Netanyahu’s prosecution at the ICC.


  • The Rights Forum has lobbied for ICC investigations into Israel
    • On November 28, 2022, the Rights Forum and 197 other regional and international civil society organizations sent an open letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan urging him to “Investigate and Deter Israel’s Apartheid Regime.” According to the letter, “Though mindful of the Court’s limited resources and budgetary complications, as well as your office workload and challenges, we are compelled to stress that Palestinian victims deserve justice and require equal attention as in other situations…we will continue our cooperation with your office and our support of your investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine.”
    • In September 2022, as a member of the Don’t Buy Into Occupation campaign, jointly published a report calling on European governments to “Fully cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in line with relevant obligations set forth in the Rome Statute and the Geneva Conventions; and express public support for the independence of the Court in its investigation into the Situation in Palestine, which could encompass private and corporate actors.”
    • In March 2021, the Rights Forum Director Gerard Jonkman celebrated the ICC’s decision on territorial jurisdiction over Palestine stating, “War crimes cannot go unpunished…it is crucial that perpetrators are held accountable and brought to justice. And that the victims of the crimes, in this case mainly Palestinians, but also Israelis, receive satisfaction.”
    • In November 2019, the Rights Forum signed a letter to Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda, calling to open “an official, full-scale investigation into the ‘situation in Palestine’” and the “possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed” as the “absence of an official investigation…has fuelled the already existing culture of impunity.”
    • In September 2018, the Rights Forum was a signatory on a letter to ICC Prosecutor Bensouda calling to open an investigation as the “situation in Palestine is rapidly deteriorating and war crimes and crimes against humanity are allegedly frequently committed to entrench Israeli control over Palestinian territory and the Palestinian people” and there is a need to “prosecute and convict perpetrators, including high-level officials of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
  • In June 2017, attorney and board member Liesbeth Zegveld attempted to file a civil lawsuit in a Dutch court against former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israel Air Force Commander Amir Eshel, accusing them of war crimes.
  • In 2010, Zegveld filed a criminal complaint against the Dutch corporation Riwal, alleging its complicit[y] in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity through its construction of the Annexation Wall, ‘the Wall,’ and illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank.” The complaint was brought on behalf of the radical anti-Israel NGO Al-Haq.

BDS Activities

European Legal Support Center (ELSC)

Key People

  • Founder and honorary chairman of Rights Forum, Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt .
    • Van Agt maintains that “Europe owes a special debt to the Palestinians because they are the victims of victims of the Holocaust.” He also argues that “The European and Dutch boycott of Hamas is wrong and even stupid…We automatically pardon the occupier and sanction the occupied nation.”
    • Van Agt also blamed Israel for the lack of democracy in the Arab world.
  • Martin Siepermann, director of The Rights Forum until end of 2016, and political advisor of The Rights Forum in 2017, previously worked as Middle East project officer at Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO).
    • In 2012, Siepermann participated in a parliamentary debate on Dutch policy towards Israel stating, “Israel is never held accountable and never put under pressure to end its systematic and serious human rights violations or to substantially reduce it.”
    • In 2006, Siepermann wrote an article accusing the Dutch company Lima Holding BV of involvement “in the construction of the illegal Wall that Israel is building.”
  • Members of the board maintain close connections to anti-Israel NGOs, including Sabeel, Al-Haq, and ICCO. These groups support BDS campaigns, deny the Jewish people’s connections to Israel, and support legal attacks (“lawfare”) against Israel.
  • Advisory board member Jan Pronk was the previous Chairman of IKV (The Interchurch Peace Summit), now known as IKV Pax Christi. Pronk was a guest speaker at the “Hour of Truth,” a conference aimed at promoting the Kairos Palestine document. He has publicly supported the Kairos Palestine Document, which calls for BDS against Israel, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and blames Israel solely for the continuation of the conflict. Its purpose is to rally churches globally to support BDS, delegitimization, and demonization directed at the State of Israel.
  • Advisory board member John Dugard has spearheaded many initiatives singling out Israel.
    • In 2009, he was responsible for a report funded by the South African government claiming to prove that Israel is an “apartheid” and “colonial” state. The report advocated the imposition of sanctions on Israel and called for another ICJ advisory opinion to find that Israel was engaging in the crimes of apartheid and colonialism.
    • As the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, he was criticized for promoting a so-called “right of resistance.”
  • Board member Mouin Rabbani was formerly employed by the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, a global leader in anti-Israel “lawfare” and BDS. Advisory board member Hans van den Broek is the former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and former EU Commissioner for Foreign Relations.
  • Van Den Broek was involved in organizing the 2012 NGO report “Trading Away Peace,” which called for economic sanctions against Israel and other forms of political warfare. In the introduction, van den Broek stated that the “decisive” factor for the stagnation in the peace process is “Israel’s incessant settlement policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
  • In addition, many board members have spoken at conferences and gatherings organized by radical organizations, including Sabeel, which is very active in promoting efforts to gain support of Christian churches for BDS campaign. Sabeel supports a “one state,” framework, meaning the end of Israel as a Jewish state, and employs antisemitic themes and imagery in its political attacks against Israel.

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