Following last year’s Gaza war, B’Tselem gave out video cameras to “young volunteers,” many of whom are studying communications or journalism, and asked them to document their everyday lives in Gaza. The results were publicized in the New York Times and on the home page of YNet, a leading online news source in Israel. NGO Monitor has the following observations on this project and the publicity it has received.
- B’Tselem’s video project is a constructive step in opening up lines of communication between the two sides of the conflict, but by not distributing cameras to Israeli citizens, B’Tselem presents a totally one-sided picture.
- The absence of any images of the effects of Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli victims emphasizes the politicization of human rights in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and B’Tselem’s role in this.
- The videos:
- One video, “Into the light,” exploits Palestinian children to deliver a message that demonizes Israel – “we are the pioneers of Palestine, alive but not alive” – while omitting any reference to the children of southern Israel who have been injured and killed by Hamas rockets.
- “Tunnel youth” erases the massive use of Palestinian tunnels from Egypt for smuggling weapons from Iran to Hamas.
- “War games” depicts “a group of children who are sad and angry” attempting “to get away from… the killing and the destruction.” They play “Counter Strike,” a violent game that features shooting and killing.
- B’Tselem’s main funders include the EU, UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark , Christian Aid (UK), DanChurchAid, Diakonia (Sweden) and other church groups, Ford Foundation, and New Israel Fund.
- The sources of B’Tselem funding cast increased doubt among Israelis on the video project and B’Tselem’s motives. (In a December 2009 survey, 59% of Israelis oppose donations from abroad for “human rights” and “peace” organizations.)