Established in Gaza in 1993, the Al-Dameer Association of Human Rights describes itself as "concerned with presenting legal services to detainees inside Israeli jails, along with its activities in defending the victims of violations, whoever perpetrates them" and "works on raising the societal awareness in the field of democracy and human rights through working with different sectors of the local society". It receives funding from individuals, local donors and international institutions, including the UNDP, Norwegian Peoples Aid, the International Commission of Jurists, and the Ford Foundation.
According to the Ford Foundation’s website, Al-Dameer was the recipient of a $50,000 grant (Link has expired) in 2004. The funding policy of the Ford Foundation, examined previously by NGO Monitor, has supported blatantly political anti-Israel activities. Following the analyses published by NGO Monitor and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Ford Foundation President Susan V. Berresford initiated a review and declared that it would act to ensure that funds no longer went to "groups that promote or condone bigotry or violence, or that challenged the very existence of legitimate, sovereign states like Israel." While some changes have been made, the activities of Al-Dameer show that the Ford Foundation is continuing to fund Palestinian NGOs that do not comply with Ford’s own funding regulations.
Al-Dameer is a member of the Palestinian NGO Network, which was instrumental in producing many of the preparatory documents for the Durban 2001 conference including the document calling for embargoes on Israel. This behavior has continued, and while claiming to promote human rights, Al-Dameer’s leaders state: (Link has expired) "Palestinian people have the right to resist occupation to achieve their rights, especially their right to self-determination. We must reject the connection between the struggles of the Palestinian people in resisting the Israeli occupation with terrorism." A 4 October 2004 press release refers to 75 "martyrs" as a result of a "barbaric attack" by the IDF. (This press release was removed from the Al-Dameer website after NGO Monitor’s draft analysis was sent to Ford for comment.)
The language of demonization continues in the press release, which refers to "an assault of ethnic disinfections against Palestinian civilians" and "the savagery of these crimes that forms a unique model never been used before against an unarmed occupied people." Repeating the standard call of the Palestinian Authority, Al-Dameer demands the dispatch of an international force ‘to protect Palestinian civilians’. Offering no context to IDF counter-terror operations in Gaza, another press release of 9 September 2004 calls for "the formation of a War Crimes Tribunal to bring to justice the perpetrators of these actions." Al-Dameer also makes unsubstantiated claims in relation to the extent of IDF operations. For example, a 17 March 2004 press release claims that the IDF "destroyed the administrative buildings and the campus of the Al-Aqsa University."
Al-Dameer also refers targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists to be "war crimes" and fails to acknowledge the role of terrorist leaders in perpetrating acts of murder against Israeli civilians. Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is portrayed as a "handicapped adult confined to a wheel chair". When Al-Dameer does acknowledge the memberships of terrorist organizations of Palestinians killed in IDF operations it still refers to them as "martyrs" along with civilians caught in the crossfire. Thus, two Hamas members are "martyred" in what is described as a "massacre" in the Al-Zaitun neighborhood.
Similarly, Al-Dameer displayed five photographs on its website, which it referred to as "Photos of daily life under occupation". These lack any context or explanation leaving the viewer to draw uninformed conclusions. Two of the photos, despite offering no evidence as to the identities of those involved or the actions taking place, were described as an "Israeli soldier torturing a Palestinian prisoner". (As in the case of its missing 4 October 2004 press release, this section of Al-Dameer’s website was recently cleaned up, and was empty as of December 20, 2004).
As this evidence demonstrates, Al-Dameer engages in anti-Israel demonization while condoning Palestinian terrorism, in violation of the Ford Foundation’s guidelines.
The Ford Foundation’s response:
NGO Monitor’s analysis was sent to the Ford Foundation, whose Assistant Secretary and Associate General Counsel, Nancy Feller replied on 3 December 2004:
"Thank you for your communication of November 24. As you know, we put such information through an established review process, which we will do in this case."
NGO Monitor has requested a more substantial response, which will be posted upon receipt.