B’Tselem: Human Rights and Terrorism

Credibility and political bias remain problematic

B’Tselem’s report on alleged violations since January 2009 demonstrates the continued use of human rights claims to promote a core political agenda, NGO Monitor stated today.

“What B’Tselem lacks in credibility and accurate research, it compensates for with simplistic campaigns that erase the complex reality,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “B’Tselem acknowledges the Israeli government’s readiness to reduce checkpoints. But as today’s shooting of three police officers highlights, this often puts Israelis at risk – a dimension that B’Tselem continues to ignore.”

NGO Monitor’s reports demonstrate the lack of credibility in B’Tselem’s research, with numerous disputes over the facts and evidence. For instance, regarding a December 2009 incident, B’Tselem classified three members of Fatah’s al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades responsible for the murder of an Israeli civilian as “Did not participate in hostilities.” Additionally, B’Tselem’s press release for the annual report grossly undercounts the number of Palestinians killed by Palestinian security forces in Gaza, including an August 2009 gun battle at a mosque that left at least 21 dead.

“By relying on unverifiable evidence and testimonies that lack credibility, and are used to promote political goals, B’Tselem’s categories and statistics can not be taken seriously,” continued Steinberg. “The funding from European governments and the New Israel Fund is also provided in this political context.”

While B’Tselem’s report is filled with accusations of abuses by the Israeli government and military, details on the NGO’s lobbying activities in Washington, DC and elsewhere are missing. In particular, after providing “assistance to the investigative staff of the Goldstone mission from the beginning to the end of its research” B’Tselem continues to call for the acceptance of Goldstone’s flawed and highly biased conclusions.

“B’Tselem’s agenda should be seen in light of its political goals, which it pursues in Israel and internationally. An agenda calling for ending the occupation is not illegitimate, but selective use of human rights terminology to achieve this aim is immoral,” said Steinberg. “Where are B’Tselem’s intensive campaigns on Gilad Shalit and Israelis under rocket attack from Gaza?”