On behalf of the NGO Monitor family, we are profoundly honored to receive the Menachem Begin Prize. The Jewish, Zionist and democratic values that we promote are the same values that were central to Begin’s heritage. Begin insisted on speaking truth to power, beginning in his days as a prisoner in the Soviet gulag, where he rejected the comparison of him being a Zionist activist with being an agent of the British Empire, through his days in the underground and culminating in his service as Prime Minister.
NGO Monitor is an Israeli political start-up founded in late 2001, , following the United Nations Durban NGO Forum that declared political war against the Jewish nation, under the false banner of promoting human rights. The implementation of the Durban strategy is seen every day, though the immoral activities of the political NGO network, in the form of false allegations of war crimes, and by exploiting the suffering of South Africans by linking the word “apartheid” to Jewish self-determination. These groups are directly linked with the UN human rights frameworks, which are used as additional arenas in this war.
This is a new form of warfare, whereby NGOs are protected by a “halo effect” that protects them from independent examination, and leaves their activities and the funding they receive from European governments cloaked in darkness. In the spirit of Hanukkah, we, at NGO Monitor, are here to “banish the darkness”, and promote transparency and moral accountability among these NGOs.
From the central role of NGOs in promoting the Jenin blood libel of 2002, to the Goldstone report, and beyond, NGO Monitor’s very hard working staff has carefully documented the false claims and systematic biases of this network. Ours is not a partisan political battle – opposition to campaigns that exploit human rights to demonize Israel extends across party lines and ideologies. This is not a matter of “right” or “left”.
In the Jewish tradition, the prohibition on bearing false witness is one of the Ten Commandments, and an elaborate legal structure was built to establish the truth and prevent defamation. NGO Monitor has shown, case after case, that instead of pursuing morality and justice, many groups, claiming to promote human rights and other moral principles, use rumor and fabrication.
With major help from many important allies, including the ADL, NGO Monitor documents these attacks, operating in the realm of civil society. Our reports challenge theirs, and disprove their claims. For instance, after a long and difficult process, we were able to convince Judge Richard Goldstone that he was wrong to have lent his name to a baseless UN report attacking Israel.
In Europe, among many NGOs that claim to promote human rights and humanitarian aid, Israel, as the nation-state of the Jewish people, has become the new target of hatred. These organizations, with the support of some churches, repeat the classic theological antisemitic themes used for the past 2000 years, in which Jesus and his family have been replaced by Palestinian victims, and Israeli soldiers as their killers.
NGO Monitor’s role in all of these cases is to look beyond the halo, publish the research, expose the facts, and compare the moral claims of these NGOs and their funders to their actual activities. The funders, including many European governmental frameworks, are major participants in this NGO-led warfare. This money, provided under the label of “humanitarian aid” or “human rights,” is used to give NGOs the massive resources needed for anti-Israel campaigns.
Next week marks Human Rights Day, which celebrates the signing in 1948 of the International Declaration of Human Rights. Tragically, these moral principles have been hijacked and are being used as weapons in the political war against Israel. By continuing to expose the false testimony and moral hypocrisy, NGO Monitor is helping and will continue helping to repair the damage, and hopefully, to restore these principles.
I would like to thank the Menachem Begin Heritage Center for the prize, to past and present employees of NGO Monitor for their hard work, and for their contribution to the defense of Israel’s image in the world. I would also like to thank NGO Monitor’s board, members and donors.
Happy Hanukkah and Thank you very much.