NGO Monitor noted the contents and timing of a B’Tselem report released today, which claims to analyze “the mechanisms used to gain Israeli control of land in the West Bank for building the settlements.” B’Tselem, which receives extensive European governmental funding, maintains a lobbying office in Washington, and the release of this highly publicized report coincides with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting with President Obama.
“Although B’Tselem claims to be a human rights organization, their reports and campaigns are primarily aimed at influencing Israeli politics and policies. B’Tselem maintains a very visible presence in Washington, and is actively involved in lobbying the U.S. government regarding policies on Gaza and the West Bank,” said Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.
“B’Tselem has removed the facade of a ‘human rights’ organization to reveal its political objectives, which focus on opposing Israeli government policy,” said Steinberg. “While opposition politics are a vital part of a healthy democracy, in B’Tselem’s case, this opposition is being financed and supported by European governments.” (B’Tselem acknowledges that Israel’s Ministry of Justice refused to respond to the report “in light of its political nature.”)
B’Tselem has received grants from the European Union, seven European governments, and NDC, a vehicle for additional Swedish, Swiss, Danish and Dutch NGO funding. This European support enables B’Tselem, an Israeli organization, to lobby the U.S. government.
“B’Tselem’s claims, particularly regarding international law, lack credibility. The complexities of history, including Arab warfare and rejection, are erased, and the legal arguments are selected to promote B’Tselem’s political objectives. Legal analyses that reach different conclusions are similarly erased in this report,” continued Steinberg.
“As is often the case for B’Tselem, Palestinians are defined as victims, incapable of independent moral and legal conduct. Israel is the only real actor in this imaginary world,” concluded Steinberg.