Table of Contents:

Focus: Will Radical NGOs hijack the UN’s "Durban II" Process?

News in Brief

NGO Monitor Publications this Month

NGO Monitor in the Media

Recommended Articles


Focus: Will Radical NGOs hijack the UN’s "Durban II" Process?

Between August 27-31 in Geneva, the UN Bureau for the Durban Preparatory Committee (Prep-Com) held its first conference in preparation for the 2009 follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism which took place in Durban, South Africa (Durban Conference).  The Prepcom was led by well-known human rights abuser Libya, with Iran and Cuba also serving on the planning committee. The official mandate of the August 27-31 session was limited to reviewing follow-up from the Durban Conference. However, as UN Watch has reported , observers the Islamic bloc introduced new accusations against the U.S., Europe, and other Western nations, under the charge of "religious defamation." In addition, the conference included presentations by a number of NGO groups. The UN has released a list of NGOs that participated in conference, including radical NGOs Al-Haq, Human Rights Monitor – Iran, Adalah, and Ittijah. The International Islamic Relief Organization is also accredited to this conference (the IIRO’s Indonesia and Philippines branches were added to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals List for "facilitating fundraising for al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist.")

This preparatory conference has been met with significant debate and protest. NGO Monitor submitted a detailed report to the preparatory committee on the abuses from Durban 2001, and UN Watch and Eye on the UN published detailed critical reports. Op-eds condemning the conference appeared in the Boston Globe and Jerusalem Post. The Durban preparatory conference took place at the same time as another UN conference, the "International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace", was held in the European Parliament in Brussels, August 30-31. Both conferences provided a platform for radical anti-Israel NGOs to spread their rhetoric of demonization and intolerance. NGO Monitor is following these developments, and will continue to provide updates on activities leading up to the "Durban II" in 2009. More information is available on NGO Monitor’s Durban 2009 essentials page.


NGO News in Brief

Polish MPs withdraw from UN/NGO anti-Israel conference at the European Parliament

Following NGO Monitor’s initial report, as well as protests from the Israeli government and embassy in Brussels, a group of Polish MEPs deriving from all main political parties decided to boycott the "International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace", that was held in the European Parliament in Brussels, August 30-31.  The boycott was to protest to many radical NGOs who dominated the conference and used it as a platform to advance the demonization of Israel and to call for international boycotts. Following the announcement of Poland’s decision, ­B’nai B’rith International issued a statement applauding the decision and calling on other nations to follow Poland’s lead in rejecting what B’nai B’rith called a "virulently anti-Israel gathering" and a "forum for anti-Semitism."  For more information on this conference, including an analysis of the presenting NGOs, click here.


USAID will screen NGO personnel for terrorist links

As MSNBC News has reported, USAID will now be screening all NGO personnel that receive USAID funding to make sure they have no links to terrorism.  This is in addition to the pledge each organization has to sign that its money will not be used to support terrorism. A coalition of Palestinian NGOs have protested the pledge, refusing to sign.  In April 2007, a MSF employee was arrested for planning terror assassinations in Israel, and the head of Al Haq, Shawan Jabarin, has been held by Israel for involvement with the PFLP.


MPs: War on Want’s boycott guide "a handbook of hate"
As reported in the Jewish Chronicle on August 24, 2007, British MPs and Jewish leaders have condemned high-profile British charity, War on Want, for its promotion of a world-wide anti-Israel boycott. A document described as a guide for boycott, divestment and sanctions, appearing on the War on Want website and widely distributed, lays out a strategy for those planning sanctions against the Jewish state. British MPs have called on the UK Charity Commission to investigate the publication, which has been described as "a handbook of hate" by Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark.  As reported previously by NGO Monitor, War on Want abuses its charitable status to promote an extreme anti-Israel agenda.


Amnesty International erases NGO Monitor analysis from Wikipedia

Wired Magazine (online) features an item this month detailing how Amnesty International edits out criticism of its organization on the Wikipedia page – including NGO Monitor’s detailed examples of false reports and bias. Amnesty also removed a link to NGO Monitor’s Amnesty International infofile (the detailed log-page can be found here). 


Amnesty Israel-led ads on Sudanese refugees feature ‘Hatikva’ and Holocaust imagery

As reported on Ynet August 8, the Israel branch of Amnesty International, in cooperation with Hotline for Migrant Workers and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, have launched a campaign calling on the Israeli Interior Ministry not to deport the Sudanese asylum seekers who have entered Israel illegally. The campaign features a highly emotive video clip, where a chilling version of Hatikva—the Israeli national anthem—is sung. The video features what appear to be Sudanese women and children, standing behind fences and barbed wire—images which invoke Holocaust imagery and German concentration camps (In some camps, Jews sang Hatikva in defiance on their way to the gas chambers.)

Human Rights Watch Update

Ken Roth repeats myths from last year’s Lebanon war: "Qana Killings one year on"

In an op-ed July 30, 2007 in the Huffington Post, HRW Head Kenneth Roth once again condemns Israel for alleged "war crimes" in last summer’s Lebanon War despite clear evidence refuting his claims:

"Israelis have done much soul-searching about the decision to launch a large-scale military campaign in response to Hezbollah’s border attacks, and much questioning of the military strategy for the war. But when it comes to the question of civilian casualties, the debate has been remarkably superficial…On occasion, Hezbollah forces even deliberately hid near noncombatants to render counterattack more difficult — the war crime of shielding. But these violations do not begin to explain Lebanese civilian deaths."

HRW focuses much more on Israel’s war with Hezbollah than abuses and “sexual atrocities extending ‘far beyond rape’”?

HRW has done little reporting in real time on unspeakable abuses of human rights in several African countries.  One notable example is the Central African Republic (CAR)—a crisis so vicious and bloody that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has initiated proceedings.  The ICC notes that "sexual violence appears to have been a central feature" of the 2002-2003 conflict.   HRW issued a statement in May 2007 praising the ICC for finally tackling these abuses.  Incredibly, however, HRW itself issued no statements on these atrocities as they were taking place. In fact, HRW’s only publication addressing the CAR conflict, prior to May 2007, was published in 2001.  See NGO Monitor’s blog for more information.

HRW condemning US arms transfers to Arab states, Israel

Human Rights Watch claimed that recently announced United States-Middle East arms agreements would undermine US goals in the Middle East: According the HRW’s Washington director, Tom Malinowski, the planned arms deals "will reduce pressure on Egypt and the Arab states to reform their politics…It’s another case of trying to purchase stability at the expense of liberty."


International Crisis Group Middle East report urges Europe, Russia, US to establish ties with Hamas

The International Crisis Group (ICG) has issued a report, After Gaza, which considers policy options in the effort to find a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in light of Hamas’ recent takeover in Gaza. The central argument of the report is that the International Quartet of the EU, Russia, the UN, and the United States must work with the Palestinians to establish a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah and the formation of a unity-government. The report specifically urges the Quartet "in all statements and contacts with the PA government in Ramallah" to "encourage reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas." The report urges the "formation of a new, unified government subject to Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approval," and calls on Israel to be willing to negotiate with such a government, which will include Hamas, on a "two-state solution." 


Interfaith Peace Builders/AFSC Delegations: “Misunderstanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”

The Interfaith Peace Builders (IPB) and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) sponsor regular delegations to "observe" the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The claimed purpose of these trips is to "foster[] a network of informed and active individuals who understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United States’ political, military, and economic role in it." However, as NGO Monitor has detailed this month, rather than creating a network of people who "understand" the conflict, IPB and AFSC are building a radical advocacy network with NGOs that promote the Palestinian rejectionist narrative and anti-Israel demonization through the "Durban Strategy". Speakers to the visiting delegations include members of the most radical NGOs operating in the region, including Jeff Halper of the EU-funded ICAHD.

Israeli Justice Ministry proposes changes in NGO access to Israel Supreme Court rulings

According to an August 26 article in the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli Justice Ministry is preparing legislation aimed at restricting the powers of the High Court of Justice, but will not try to have it approved by the Knesset before holding a public debate on the matter. The policy introduced by former Supreme Court presidents Meir Shamgar and Aharon Barak has opened the court to many non-government organizations such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Movement for Quality Government, and Adalah, petitioning on such matters as human rights, minority rights and ethical government behavior. This legislation is a response in part to growing charges of "judicial activism" by the Court. According to the article, "’Activism’ includes, among other things, the court’s readiness during these years to allow almost anyone to petition it on government actions, even when these actions do not directly affect the petitioner himself—an issue known as ‘standing’."

B’tselem condemns West Bank checkpoints as ‘illegal’, claims Israel prevents Palestinians from going to the Dead Sea

B’Tselem issued a report this month—Ground to a Halt: Denial of Palestinians’ Freedom of Movement in the West Bank—on Israeli check-points and security arrangements on West Bank roads. The Israel Justice Ministry’s Department for International Agreements and International Litigation issued a response to the B’Tselem report, challenging its basic assumption that the road restrictions were being used for illegal purposes. "This far-reaching assertion is absolutely baseless," wrote Justice Ministry attorney Hila Tene.

In related news, in an August 15 press release, B’Tselem announced that its recent investigations "reveal that the Israeli army prevents Palestinians from traveling to the northern Dead Sea area…The nature of the restrictions…raises a grave concern that the prohibitions are not grounded on legitimate security needs, but on extraneous reasons that are intended to advance Israeli interests in the occupied territory….B’Tselem calls on the defense authorities to immediately cancel the restrictions on Palestinian movement in the area, including the restrictions on using the beaches and recreational sites in the northern Dead Sea area."  NGO Monitor has previously reported on B’Tselem’s lack of credibility.


B’Tselem issues condemnation of Israeli detention of senior Hamas officials

B’Tselem has issued a condemnation this month of Israel’s detention of Hamas officials holding senior positions in the Palestinian Authority. According to B’Tselem, "international law permits administrative detention only in exceptional cases, when the detainee represents a clear and present danger, and then only if lesser means are ineffective in eliminating the danger. The use of administrative detention as a means of punishment is absolutely forbidden. The present case does not meet these conditions…the timing of the waves of arrests indicates that the arrests were intended to put pressure on the Palestinian people and its leadership."


Adalah and Israeli High Court press for recognition of mosques as holy sites

According to a Ynet News report, "The High Court of Justice demanded Monday [August 20] that the state explain its failure to recognize Muslim sites of worship and to funnel sufficient funds to preserve mosques in Israel. ‘Why shouldn’t the National Authority of Religious Services respect the relevant laws and introduce ordinances to ensure that all Muslim religious sites in Israel are preserved?,’ Justice Edmond Levy wrote in response to a petition against the state by the Arab advocacy center Adalah. The court adopted the petitioners’ stance that earmarking a budget for the mosques did not guarantee a long-term commitment to their maintenance and demanded that the state provide explanations for its decision. Adalah lawyer Hassan Jabrin told Ynet that the government’s refusal to recognize mosques was part of an ‘unjust’ policy that ignored ‘their religious and historical importance.’ ‘Some of these sites are holy not only to Muslims in Israel but to millions around the world. The absence of ordinances that define these holy sites will perpetuate the ongoing damage they have been sustaining,’ he added."


PHR-Israel, Gisha petition Israeli Court, publish report criticizing Erez crossing procedures for Palestinians seeking medical attention

Physicians for Human Rights–Israel and Gisha have published an August 19, 2007 position paper, after submitting a petition to the Israeli Supreme court (which the Court rejected), criticizing Israel’s system of classifying Palestinians at the Erez crossing seeking to enter Israel for medical attention. As NGO Monitor has previously reported, as a result of PHR-I’s radical political agenda, the Israel Physician’s Union halted cooperative activities with it; Gisha regularly uses "apartheid" rhetoric and excludes the context of Palestinian terror in its reporting.


Alternative Information Center releases report: ‘The Case for Academic Boycott against Israel’

The Alternative Information Center (AIC), a Palestinian NGO group funded by the European governments which is very active in promoting boycotts against Israel and using the rhetoric of demonization, has released an August 2007 report, The Case for Academic Boycott against Israel. According to the AIC website, the report is "an initial compilation of facts documenting the discriminatory practices implemented by the Israeli academic system, as well as this system’s active and ongoing involvement in the occupation of the Palestinian territories."


NGO Vacancies


NGO Monitor Publications this Month


NGO Monitor in the Media (Selected)

Bernard Josephs, "Irish slated over anti-Israel funds", The Jewish Chronicle, August 24, 2007
"Israeli diplomats are preparing to raise with the Irish government a report claiming that it is funding, to the tune of around £600,000, the activities of British and Palestinian non-governmental organisations — some of which are running campaigns aimed at ‘demonising’ Israel and supporting boycott moves. The report, issued this week by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, says the money is channelled through the Irish Foreign Ministry’s Irish Aid department and is going to a range of organisations active in the Palestinian territories."

Jonny Paul, ‘One sided, partisan, and anti-Israel’: the upcoming UN NGO Conference in Brussels, The Jerusalem Post, August 21, 2007 "Organizers of a UN conference, hosted by the European Parliament in Brussels at the end of August, are refusing to make public the list of non-governmental organizations scheduled to attend a controversial conference that has been called ‘one-sided, partisan and anti-Israel.’" "’This is yet another example of how officials from the EU provide support for radical NGOs leading the anti-Israel campaign through the use of the rhetoric of human rights,’ said Prof. Gerald Steinberg from NGO Monitor. ‘Many of the speakers represent NGOs that receive funds from the EU – including ICAHD – under the guise of building peace and development…’"

Yaakov Lappin, "Polish MEPs boycott UN conference", Ynet News, August 16, 2007
"A conference of UN NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be hosted at the European Parliament this month, will be boycotted by Polish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political spectrum, who say that the conference is biased against Israel…the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor organization said the upcoming conference as a rehash of the 2001 UN Durban conference on racism, which saw unprecedented levels of anti-Zionist rhetoric, and calls for Israel´s destruction."

Coverage in leading Blogs:

"UN Springs Into Action, Plans Another Israel-Bashing Conference", Little Green Footballs, August 03, 2007

NGO Monitor report on HRW and Amnesty cited in Commentary Magazine’s Blog,  Joshua Muravchik, Contentions, August 09, 2007


Recommended Articles

Kicking Off: The Foreign Office decision to bar entry to the Palestine under-19 football team should not be used as an opportunity to attack Israel, Seth Freedman, Comment in Free, Guardian (UK), August 27, 2007
"There is a long history of sportsmen using the cover of overseas matches to abscond to their host country and refuse to return to their homeland, usually for economic or political reasons…So, when the Foreign Office…turned down visa applications by the Palestine under-19 football team to tour England – on the grounds that they "failed to meet entry criteria" – the decision should have been treated as an isolated decision…Louise Richards, War On Want’s chief executive, left no room for misinterpretation with her reaction…as she used the situation to hammer Israel for its actionsHer response manages to somehow rope in a perfectly reasonable decision by the Foreign Office with a perceived pro-Israel bias on the part of the prime minister, as though the idea that sportsmen defecting from foreign countries is nothing but a myth tied in to some kind of Zionist conspiracy…"

Jerusalem Post Editorial: Stop Durban II, August 23, 2007
"Let’s say you wanted to hold a conference to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to fairly represent the Israeli point of view? Might it be counterproductive if the conference were to degenerate into an anti-Israel hate fest? What if this did not happen by accident, but by design? You might conclude that the purpose of a conference like that would not be to promote peace at all, but to build the case and groundwork for Israel’s destruction. And you might therefore be surprised were you to discover that such a conference were being sponsored not by a virulently anti-Israel organization, but by such august bodies as the United Nations and the European Parliament."

Gerald Steinberg,"Europe to host NGO attack on Israel", The Jerusalem Post, August 23, 2007
"For years, the United Nations and the European Union have provided major funding and assistance for radical Palestinian NGOs and their supporters, allowing them to exploit the rhetoric of human rights, "civil society," international law and peace to promote the opposite. An illustration of the damage that results from this combination is provided by the meeting, scheduled for the European Parliament in Brussels on August 30-31, to be run by the UN´s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. This committee is ‘the main UN forum where all NGOs interested in the Palestine issue can meet.’"

"Jeff Halper Distorts International Law", CAMERA, August 09, 2007
"…In its relentless quest to demonize the Jewish state, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a virulently anti-Israel activist organization headed by Jeff Halper, has in effect rewritten the Fourth Geneva Convention, the main achievement of those years of work. Here is what visitors to the Frequently Asked Question of the ICAHD Web site are told…"