Former Ha’aretz columnist Akiva Eldar’s latest article in Al-Monitor (“Political Agenda Seeps Into Israeli Army’s Top Brass” [English and Hebrew], January 15, 2013) selectively quotes from the State Comptroller Report (pp. 115-117) on infighting between Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (the Harpaz affair). Eldar relates to a phone conversation between Ashkenazi and his aide Erez Weiner, discussing an unidentified “booklet” on the role of New Israel Fund-affiliated organizations in disseminating “war crimes” allegations against IDF soldiers.
Among other inventions, Eldar places NGO Monitor near the center of an alleged “organized and planned effort…to capture the centers of power in Israeli society” and to discredit Barak and the New Israel Fund (NIF).
We expect that most readers will recognize the mix of selective facts and ideological fiction in Eldar’s article. Still, it is important for Akiva Eldar to publicly admit that all references to NGO Monitor in his article were, indeed, entirely baseless and fictitious.
For the record:
1. The article records the date of a conversation between Weiner and Ashkenazi as October 14, 2010. According to the State Comptroller Report, they spoke on May 14, 2010. (Eldar has a record of misreading and misunderstanding documents.) As seen below, the correct date is central to understanding the real issues.
2. Eldar characterizes the material that Weiner received as “inside information” from NGO Monitor and Im Tirzu (an Israeli political organization that is highly critical of the NIF). Based on the actual timing and other details, the so-called “inside information” may have been Im Tirzu’s well-publicized report on “war crimes” lawsuits against Israeli officials, (April 2010). Im Tirzu also supported proposed Knesset legislation addressing this issue, introduced in April 2010 and quickly dropped, discussed in Eldar’s article.
3. Eldar imagines a non-existent relationship between NGO Monitor, a an independent Jerusalem-based research organization, and Im Tirtzu. NGO Monitor was not involved in any of the elements of Eldar’s story, and had no connection with Weiner or the proposed legislation.
4. The selective quoting from State Comptroller Report (p. 115) creates the impression that the so-called “inside information” was intended to discredit Ehud Barak and his staff. The continuation of the transcript (p. 116), not quoted by Eldar, shows that this was not the case.
5. Eldar discounts the legitimate interest of IDF officers in the sources of global campaigns to promote bogus “war crimes” cases against IDF officers, including NGO support for the discredited Goldstone Report and lobbying of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. (For more on this issue, see NGO Monitor’s monograph “NGO ‘Lawfare’: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict”).
6. As part of his delusion, Eldar falsely associates NGO Monitor with “an organized and planned effort by right wing activists in the national religious camp to capture the centers of power in Israeli society, chiefly the military and political leadership.” He also reveals a discriminatory anti-religious agenda, writing that that the State Comptroller should investigate this allegedly “evil” activity.
7. NGO Monitor has long been a target of Eldar’s “journalism,” including preparing an article based on information obtained from email sockpuppets connected to Human Rights Watch.