On May 2 2007, three major NGOs — Human Rights Watch, FIDH1 and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) — published a joint press release2 calling on Israel to lift the travel ban placed on Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of Al-Haq3. Al Haq, an affiliate of the Geneva based International Commission of Jurists, is a highly politicized Palestinian NGO, active in the 2001 Durban conference that adopted a strategy of demonization against Israel. The statement alleges that Jabarin was barred by Israel from attending the annual Congress of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in Lisbon on April 19, 2007, and that “Israeli authorities have not explained why the restrictions are in place.”
NGO Monitor’s analysis of this statement shows that while these NGOs acknowledge that “human rights law permits restrictions on freedom of movement on security grounds,” they entirely erase Jabarin’s links to the PFLP and Israel’s legitimate security concerns. They also make claims that are inconsistent with the available record, and fail to note their ties to Jabarin and Al-Haq.4 The result is a selective research and ideologically biased analysis, similar to others analyzed in previous NGO Monitor reports.
Factual Omissions and Distortions in HRW/FIDH/OMCT Statement
According to the May 2 statement: “Before his travel ban was imposed [in 2006], Jabarin had traveled abroad on eight different occasions since 1999.” This claim implies that Israel has rarely, if ever, placed travel bans or other restrictions on Jabarin. However, as documented below, Israel has placed several travel bans on Jabarin. According to some estimates, he has spent eight years in administrative detention for actions related to his involvement in the PFLP and terrorism.
Chronology of Jabarin’s Past Actions Related to Terror and Security
1985: Jabarin Convicted of Active Role in PFLP terror organization
According to a 1995 Israeli submission to the UN, Jabarin was convicted in 1985 for recruiting members on behalf of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) — designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, and Canada. Jabarin was also found guilty of arranging PFLP training outside Israel, and was sentenced by Israeli courts to twenty-four months imprisonment, of which he served nine.
1994: Still Active in PFLP
On June 21, 1994 Jabarin was arrested and placed in administrative detention for six months. An Israeli statement to the UN notes that he “had not discontinued his terrorist involvement and maintains his position in the leadership of the PFLP” As in similar cases, if he were brought to trial, this would “endanger the safety of material witnesses were they to give evidence.” The legitimacy of this claim results from the common Palestinian practice of murdering anyone labeled as an Israeli “collaborator”.
2003: Jordan Denies Entry to Jabarin
In 2003, Israel did allow Jabarin to travel, but the government of Jordan refused him entry. Jordan also has legitimate security concerns, and the PFLP platform, states that, “the problem of the revolution in Palestine is dialectically connected with the problem of the revolution in Jordan. A chain of plots between the Jordanian monarchy, imperialism and Zionism have proved this connection.” This context is also omitted in the joint NGO statement on Jabarin’s behalf.
According to the May 2 HRW/FIDH/OMCT statement: “the Israeli High Court rejected [Jabarin’s request to have the ban lifted], apparently based on submissions from the authorities that neither Mr. Jabarin nor his counsel were permitted to see.” As of May 8, 2007 this Supreme Court decision has been classified under a Court order.
In addition, in assessing the HRW/FIDH/OMCT statement on behalf of Jabarin, it is important to note that in contrast to the claim that Al Haq is focused on human rights, the record shows its primary role in anti-Israel demonization and political campaigns, often in cooperation with HRW, FIDH, and OMCT. For example, Jabarin and Al-Haq contributed to a tendentious HRW report entitled, “Promoting Impunity: The Israeli Military’s Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing”5. Al-Haq is an OMCT member organization, and an FIDH member organization. During the 61st session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, March 2005, Al-Haq, FIDH, and OMCT issued a joint statement condemning Israel for “numerous forms of collective punishment”, the “devastating system of checkpoints and other movement restrictions”, and the “construction of the Annexation Wall”.
The HRW/FIDH/OMCT statement ignores the legitimate security concerns evident from Jabarin’s past actions and the available evidence. On this basis, it is reasonable to conclude that this statement reflects the bias and political agendas that dominate the activities of these NGOs with respect to Israel and the Palestinian conflict, as part of the Durban Strategy of demonization through false human rights claims.
- NGO Monitor’s research has shown that FIDH uses a disproportionately large amount of resources condemning Israel, as opposed to Sudan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia, for human rights abuses. See this NGO Monitor chart for details.
- See the press release on FIDH’s website here, and on OMCT’s website here.
- Jabarin is not the only member of Al-Haq to have been placed in administrative detention by Israel. For example, in October 2002, Al-Haq staff member Ziad Hamidan was refused authorization to attend a conference in Madrid. See here for a more complete list.
- The statement also notes the involvement of Hamoked, another political NGO that use the rhetoric of human rights to condemn Israel.
- See NGO Monitor’s report, “Claims in Btselem/HaMoked Report Lack Credibility” and the Israeli Government Response to a 2004 HRW Inquiry for refutation of these claims.