By Alan Schneider, Director, B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem
“HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual” is an Israeli-registered non-governmental organization (Amuta) established in 1988. According to its published material and public documentation, HaMoked – formerly named “Hotline for Victims of Violence” – maintains offices in eastern Jerusalem and a team of 25 Jewish and Palestinian workers. HaMoked’s aims, as registered with Israel’s Registrar of Non-profit Organizations, are to:
“Provide assistance to persons who have fallen victim to acts of violence, abuse or deprivation of basic rights by governmental authorities (including local government), especially those needing assistance in conveying their complaints to these authorities, and also to protect basic rights in any other manner, including application to legal instances and among them – petitions to the Supreme Court in its capacity as High Court of Justice, whether in the name of an individual who claims that his basic right was harmed and whether as a “friend of the court.” (translation A.S.)
Both its current and former names, and its lofty universal aims, give the impression that HaMoked champions human rights common to all men and provides services in a broad-based and non-discriminatory manner. However, “HaMoked” (Hebrew for “center”, “focus” or “the stake”) has substituted these registered aims with activities and a published mission statement that focus exclusively on providing assistance to Palestinians living in the territories who claim that their rights were violated by Israel. As published on its web site, HaMoked’s main objective is to:
“…assist Palestinians whose rights are violated by the Israeli authorities or as a result of Israeli policy….Once a complaint is received, HaMoked contacts the relevant authorities, for instance the Civil Authority, the Military Attorney General, the State Attorney General, or any of a variety of governmental offices. When necessary, HaMoked files legal claims and submits petitions to the High Court of Justice. Concurrently, HaMoked endeavors to bring about changes in policy by the authorities and to implement legislative amendments that would improve the status of human rights in the Territories and East Jerusalem.
HaMoked operates an Emergency Human Rights Hotline in order to attempt to offer real time solutions by working vis-?-vis relevant authorities in the field. Emergency situations include those arising from restrictions on movement within the territories; from violence; from delays in the evacuation of the injured, the sick, and women in labor; and from the blockage of humanitarian aid such as food, medicine and water.
Source: HaMoked website: http://www.hamoked.org.il/pages_en.asp?page_id=1
In addition to embracing one-sided objectives that run counter to its registered aims, , HaMoked also employs charged, incomplete and inaccurate reporting on events in the territories. , as exemplified in its 2002 Annual Report (see below), resulting in highly partisan political lobbying. This goes beyond the scope of it mission statement since nowhere does HaMoked define itself as a political lobbying group. Furthermore, its funds are raised on the basis of its hotline and legal work. This disingenuous and misleading description of aims might explain HaMoked’s success in attracting the following list of distinguished donors:
- Commission of the European Communities – $318,830*
- Ford Foundation – $150,000
- International Commission of Jurists, Sweden – $191,810
- Royal Norwegian Embassy, Tel Aviv – $152,716
- Interchurch organization for development cooperation (ICC), Holland – $108,560
- John Merck Fund, USA – $71,000
- Netherlands Development Cooperation Programme – $104,263
- Bread for the World, Germany – $40,000
- New Israel Fund, USA – $50,000
- Conanima Foundation, USA – $20,000
- World Vision, Jerusalem – $20,000
- Development of Global Ministries, Holland – $11,703
- Royal Danish Representative to the PA – $80,000
- British Embassy, Tel Aviv – $41,984
*from a total multi-year commitment of over $900,000
(Combined figures for 2000 and 2001. Non-USD contributions based on current US dollar exchange rate.)
HaMoked’s total income from donations in 2000-2001 reached approximately $2,837,000 – the vast majority specifically to cover its legal work – of which only $22,000 came from private donors.
Other donors listed in HaMoked publications include: the Canadian representative office in Ramallah, the French Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development, the Embassy of Finland in Tel Aviv, the Ministry for Development Cooperation in the Dutch Foreign Ministry, NOVIB (Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation), and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Equally surprising is the reported cooperation between HaMoked and the Hebrew University School of Social Work, which has lent two students to intern at the organization.
It should be noted that by funding HaMoked, these funding organizations are associating themselves with a one-sided approach to the complex issues and realities in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In an effort to justify receipt of the very substantial funds received from these foreign sources, that are its financial lifeline, HaMoked boasts that the number of complaints made by Palestinians to its telephone “hotline” (established in March 2002, shortly before Operation Defensive Shield) increased by 490% compared to 2001, to a total of 8,751 (2002 Annual Report, p.8). In contrast, HaMoked did not submit any complaints to the Palestinian Authority in response to attacks against Israelis, including bus bombings, drive-by shootings, and other forms of violence.
The 2002 Annual Report also shows t HaMoked as a linch-pin in the activities of many other anti-Israel NGOs, including some already reviewed in NGO Monitor (p.11). These include: Al -Haq section 2(i)), Addameer, B’tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, A’dalah, MachsomWatch, ISM, Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, Law, Amnesty International , PHR – Israel, and Human Rights Watch. Among other things, HaMoked made its facilities available to workers of Al-Haq and Addameer, filed ten petitions the High Court of Justice together with B’Tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Al-Haq and others, “operated on behalf of Al-Haq vis-?-vis the IDF”, provided information to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and testified for the fourth consecutive year before the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of Palestina People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.
Employing methods already identified by NGO Monitor as common to many “human rights” organizations active in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, HaMoked’s manipulative approach becomes clear early in its 2002 Report. We will now examine six examples of such distortions.
1) In nearly 100-pages of reporting on “human rights violations by Israel against Palestinians in the course of 2002”, the 2002 Report fails to mention the murder and violence perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists upon innocent Israeli civilians during this period., Nowhere does the report even acknowledge that these terrorist actions help to explain why the Israeli government took the steps condemned in the HaMoked report. These steps include the relocation of people involved in support of terrorist attacks, house demolitions, and limitations on the freedom of movement. HaMoked does not include a single mention of the 420 Israeli fatalities in 2002 – including 45 children – and thousands wounded – rendering the entire analysis a highly cynical anti-Israel exercise devoid of moral content.
2). The following quotes illustrate how HaMoked has chosen to discard the worthy goals of its mission statement in favor of an ideological agenda by using deceptive descriptions, loaded terminology and misrepresentation of international law. The opening paragraph of the 2002 report (p.7) states: “The Israel Defense Force (IDF) invasions into the territory of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in February and April, and its stay there since June, have led to unprecedented infringements of the rights of Palestinian residents. The scope of violations of Humanitarian Law was such that was never seen before: the right to life was denied to hundreds of civilians, killed due to excessive and indiscriminant use of force; the right to freedom was denied to thousands who were apprehended in arbitrary arrests and held in sub-human conditions; the right to personal safety was denied to tens of thousands who were exposed to violence and looting by soldiers and settlers, on whom the Israeli authorities did not enforce the law, and of hundreds of families whose homes were destroyed; … (emphasis added)
The HaMoked report, however, failed to reference Israel’s defense against these charges including the charge that it does not enforce the law against settlers and soldiers, as seen again recently when another soldier was indicted on June 1 for injuring a Palestinian without cause http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/309580.html
3). In the chapter on deportations (p.15), suicide bombers whose relatives were moved by order of the Israeli government from the West Bank regions of Judea and Samaria to Gaza because they collaborated actively in the attack were misleadingly termed “individuals who were suspected of being involved in terrorist activity against Israel.” The report also misleadingly utilizes the term “deportation” which is prohibited under the Geneva Convention, whereas the Israeli relocation to Gaza is permissible under Article 78 that allows “assigned residence” if “the Occupying Power considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take safety measure concerning protected persons…”
4) The chapter entitled “House Demolition” (p.23) falsely accuses Israel of deliberately demolishing houses in Jenin while residents were still inside. The accusation is patently untrue and is anecdotally based on a statement from the State Attorney’s Office that “There were houses that people only left after the bulldozer had hit one of the walls…”
5) Throughout the report, HaMoked rarely provides any details on violent activities for which many of their complainants are responsible. For example, the section on house demolitions provides one case in which “a number of family members of individuals wanted by Israel were apprehended. Two homes of these families were demolished that same night…”(p.24). Half a page later, with the description over, one still does not know what atrocities these seemingly innocent “individuals” had perpetrated against Israelis. Even arch terrorist H’sein Abayat, commander of the Tanzim in the southern West Bank who was involved in at least three attacks in the Bethlehem region in which civilians and three Israeli soldiers were shot dead, is mentioned without any description of his role in the murder of Israelis (Chapter: “Violence Committed by the Security Forces” p. 40).
6) HaMoked’s empathy for Palestinian terrorists and its indifference to Israeli casualties is illustrated in the following two laconic case studies provided in the report: “R.A. lives in a rented apartment on the third floor of a six-story building, together with his mother, sister, brother, sister-in-law and nephew. The family has been living in this rented apartment for 20 years. Another one of R.A.’s brothers detonated himself in a suicide bombing in Netanya, and his body was returned to the family with HaMoked’s help. L.N., a 50-year-old widow, has been living in a rented apartment in Nablus since 1967; she sill lives there now, together with her son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. Her other son apparently detonated himself in a suicide bombing in the West Bank settlement of Shave Shomron. Petitions to the High Court of Justice were filed on behalf of R.A., L.N. and seven other families, challenging the intention to demolish their homes
Like other “human rights” organizations with a strong anti-Israel agenda, HaMoked does a disservice to the cause of human rights because it makes no effort to present an accurate, balanced picture of the realties faced by all peoples involved in the conflict. It is incumbent on HaMoked’s donors and collaborators to question the motives of this blatantly one-sided organization, I think this is beyond our brief – we have to make funders aware of the ideological activities and question themselves whether they still want to associate themselves. It is particularly disturbing that foreign governments, including the EU, are so heavily involved in supporting such a biased organization.