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Re: Documents Show Foreign Affairs Officials Knew Of Troubles At Rights Group, Feb. 27.

The attempts by the Department of Foreign Affairs to defend the decision of Rights and Democracy staff to fund the Palestinian groups Al-Haq and al-Mezan are incongruous with the principles of human rights. In particular, the evidence demonstrates that these NGOs cannot reasonably be described as human rights organizations.

Al-Mezan demonizes Israel by referring to the Israeli army as the Israel Occupation Forces, erasing the context of Palestinian terror and delegitimizing Israeli self-defence. During the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict, it publicized allegations of Israeli massacres and war crimes, while Hamas’ use of human shields and illegal rocket attacks against Israeli civilians were not condemned. This demonizing rhetoric was already in the public sphere when Rights and Democracy approved the original grants in 2009.

For its part, Al-Haq pursued a legal case in Quebec against Canadian corporations, claiming that they were “aiding, abetting, assisting and conspiring with Israel” to violate the Geneva Conventions. The judge threw out this meritless case at a preliminary stage and assigned costs.

Al-Mezan and Al-Haq also collaborated in the highly publicized war crimes case against Ehud Barak in London in September 2009.

These examples demonstrate the need to closely monitor, evaluate, and hold accountable NGOs, particularly if they receive government funding. Unfortunately, the façade of human rights often masks a narrow and counterproductive political agenda.

Professor Gerald Steinberg, Bar Ilan University; president, NGO Monitor, Jerusalem.