Submissions to Committee to Protect Women Ignore Major Problems

JERUSALEM – The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination Against Women today reviewed Israel for compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), notes NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institution.

The Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), in coordination with nine other highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al Haq, Badil, The Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction (COHRE), Defence for Children International – Palestine, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development, Women’s Affairs Technical Committee, and Women’s Study Centre – submitted a statement to the Committee prior to the review, regarding women’s rights in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. In addition, Badil prepared a supplement to the original submission. Many of their claims reflect the de-legitimization campaigns involving NGOs.

“NGOs like Badil and the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) submitted reports that focus solely on Palestinian women in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Gaza, even though the treaty does not pertain to this situation,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor.  “These NGOs completely failed to seriously address discrimination against women. Rather, they use women as political pawns to advance their anti-Israel agendas.”

The submission omits crucial women’s rights abuses, failing to address domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or murders termed “honor killings,” which in 1999 comprised more than two-thirds of all murders in Gaza and the West Bank, according to UNICEF. NGO Monitor also notes that WCLAC has received funding from the European Union, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Spain, Belgium and Ireland, along with other individual European governments.  OxfamNOVIB (Netherlands), George Soros’s Open Society Institute, and DanChurchAid (budgeted by the Danish government) also have provided funding.

“We again see foreign European funding to NGOs contribute to the demonization of Israel in the international arena, instead of addressing real human rights abuses.” Steinberg adds. “In this text, these NGOs place their political agenda ahead of goals to protect women. The submission fails to address the repressive Hamas regime in Gaza, which conducts female genital mutilation, forbids women to walk on the beach alone or smoke in public, and forces female lawyers to wear a hijab in court.  This NGO submission also omits the issues of polygamy and sexual assaults on peace activists that occur in the PA. These critical issues are not addressed because they are outside the NGO narrative that obsessively focuses on demonizing Israel.”

Instead, throughout the NGO text, Israel is blamed for denials of women’s rights in the PA. Shortcomings in girls’ education, violence against women, and early marriage are blamed primarily on Israeli policy.

Steinberg adds: “This NGO submission distorts the facts, manipulates international law, and fails to address the exploitation of Palestinian women. And only Palestinian women are included, neglecting Jewish and Christian women, or any of the other minority groups in Israel.  Another international platform has been hijacked by NGOs to advance a singular political agenda.”

Read NGO Monitor’s Submission to CEDAW.