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Focus: Amnesty International (AI) Secretary General blogs her one-sided view of Israel-Palestinian conflict.
As reported by NGO Monitor, Amnesty International (AI) Secretary-General, Irene Khan, chose to highlight International Human Rights Day by visiting Israel’s Separation Barrier. Khan’s highly one-sided blog documented her trip to Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel. In one entry, “Was there an Earthquake in Gaza? No, it was a one-week ‘visit’ of the Israeli army,” Kahn omits the context of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians that necessitated the IDF incursion into Gaza. She also ignores Palestinian use of human shields by firing of rockets from inside heavily populated civilian areas.
In a letter summarizing her visit, Khan blamed Israel for the economic crisis in the PA while ignoring Palestinian violence and corruption. Khan accused Israel of engaging in “deliberate and reckless” attacks on civilians. Rather than condemning the PA and calling for an immediate halt to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, Khan stated the “homemade rockets” are “creat[ing] a climate of fear, which is leading to a hardening of positions in favour of a harsh military response towards the Palestinians.” Khan called on leaders of the EU to “ensure that any peace process” includes the removal of settlements and dismantling the “fence/wall” as well as “ending closures” and “a fair solution to the refugee question.” Khan makes no call for an end to Palestinian violence, nor does she call on the Hamas-led PA to recognize Israel and abide by international agreements.
War on Want (WoW) continues to use anti-Semitic imagery in its criticism of Israel
One of three cards sold on War on Want’s website for its 2006 Christmas card campaign portrays Joseph and a pregnant Mary being searched by Israeli soldiers against the Bethlehem Separation Barrier. In this image, War on Want is explicitly connecting the suffering of Palestinians with that of Jesus. The card further implies that Israel is intentionally persecuting Palestinian Christians, diverting attention from the ongoing oppression of Christians under the PA. This campaign is yet another example of WoW’s use of Holocaust and anti-Semitic themes in its publications. In the past, the NGO has accused Israel of “caging” Palestinians into “ghettos”; engaging in an “expulsion project”; and acting like a “heavyweight beating a child.” It has also adopted traditional anti-Semitic libels (such as “poisoning the wells”) by repeating unsupported allegations that the IDF targets Palestinian water sources as a “punitive and discriminatory tool”. See latest NGO Monitor report for more on WoW.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued its Annual Report on January 11, 2007. In the introduction, HRW criticizes the UN Human Rights Council for making a “mockery” of its founding principles by focusing excessively on condemnations of Israel. Yet HRW’s report also reflects a continuing pattern of unfounded and disproportionate criticism of Israel.
HRW uses the Annual Report to repeat many discredited claims, including that Israel launched "indiscriminate attacks” against civilians in Lebanon. HRW states that a majority of Lebanese dead were civilians (for which there is no reliable verification). It further claims that only 39 Israeli civilians were killed during the war, noticeably omitting any mention of Israeli military casualties. This minimisation of Israel’s losses, while magnifying the impact of Israeli military operations reflects the NGO’s long-standing bias.
Similarly, the Annual Report states that the IDF “repeatedly violated the laws of war,” yet fails to condemn Hezbollah for its extensive use of human shields, hiding of rockets and other weapons in houses, mosques, hospitals, schools, etc. It also inaccurately characterizes Israel’s separation barrier as a “Wall”; claims without evidentiary support that at least half of Palestinians killed in 2006 in Gaza were civilians; and makes no mention that international support to the Hamas-led PA was suspended by the international Quartet due to Hamas’ refusal to renounce violence, recognize Israel, or abide by previously signed international agreements.
The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), comprising 99 Palestinian NGOs, which played a key role in the infamous 2001 Durban Conference, continues to call on its members to refuse any grants awarded by USAID. In a January 11, 2006 interview with the Media Line, a PNGO coordinator stated that it considers USAID’s restrictions on dealing with members of terrorist organizations as intended to “’create internal conflict among Palestinians….The USAID’s conditions for funding … are unacceptable. They are telling us what to do and they interfere in internal politics.”
The USAID website states that it donated $705,442m (2002-2006) to the PA. USAID has taken consistent measures to avoid the abuse of humanitarian funding for politicized objectives through its "Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing," which lists a range of commitments required from NGOs that operate in the West Bank and Gaza. Europe has failed to develop similar guidelines for NGO funding.
Dutch development NGO, Kerkinactie, left the "United Civilians for Peace" (UCP) coalition on December 22, over UCP’s bias against Israel. UCP was founded in 2001 and other members include Oxfam-Novib and Pax Christi. Kerkinactie stated that the UCP paid “too little attention . . . to the necessity of security for all peoples in the region, including Israel itself,” and due to its "reputation of being ‘one-sidedly pro-Palestinian’" UCP could no longer “be sufficiently effective in its advocacy and lobbying work."
The World Bank announced that its Palestinian NGO Project has been extended to include a third stage with a grant of $10 million. As documented by NGO Monitor, the previous two phases together provided $41.9m for Palestinian NGOs until June 2006. However, PNGO II also funded the Palestinian NGO portal that provides a platform for extremist political NGOs such as PCHR, Al Haq, the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights and ARIJ; and has been a source of funding for Al Mezan, which was involved in the portal’s development.
The objective of PNGO III is to “establis[h] an effective mechanism to improve the quality and sustainability of NGO social service delivery” . No details are currently available on the World Bank’s website regarding which NGOs will receive funding under this program.
EU and NIF funded NGO, Machsom Watch, has requested permission from the Israeli Airports Authority to monitor security checks on Arab passengers at Ben Gurion Airport. Machsom Watch has been discredited in the past for its political bias regarding activities at IDF checkpoints in the West Bank. If the NGO’s request is accepted, the program will be financed by the New Israel Fund , which frequently provides funding to politicized NGOs.
PCHR condemned intra-Palestinian violence in a January 7, 2007 press release and called upon "all parties to resort to dialogue and abstain from using violence and weapons in internal differences…". PCHR has repeatedly failed to condemn Palestinian Qassam attacks on Israeli civilians.
American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) appoints new President and CEO
On December 4, 2006, ANERA announced that William D. Corcoran will take over from Peter Gubser as its new President and CEO. Corcoran currently works as Vice President of Human Resources and Administration for Christian Children’s Fund (CCF) and has previously served as Regional Director in Amman for the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, also known as the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). Outgoing President, Gubser, was quoted at a September 11, 2006, Arab American Institute breakfast forum, saying “As long as the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza continues, nothing will be resolved. . . .”
Oxfam UK is advertising for a Middle East Media Officer. The employment notice states that the position requires “a comprehensive knowledge of the economic and political context of the Middle East, including Israel and the Palestinian Territories” and that one of the main goals of Oxfam is “actively working to secure peace.” It stresses the importance of being “ able to translate our materials into Arabic and act as a spokesperson with Arabic and other regional media,” but makes no reference to dealing with Israel or of requiring knowledge of Hebrew.
- "Amnesty and HRW Claims Discredited in Detailed Report," December 28, 2006
- "Norwegian Funding for Politicized NGOs ," January 4, 2007
- “War on Want Wages War on Israel (Update),” January 15, 2007
NGO Monitor’s report, Amnesty and HRW Claims Discredited in Detailed Report. was quoted in the popular blog Little Green Footballs, in a post entitled, ‘’Answering Human Rights Watch’’, December 28, 2006.
NGO Monitor Executive Director, Gerald Steinberg, interviewed by the Philadelphia Bulletin, January 16, 2007.
- “Human Rights Watch: Troubling Report,” Avi Bell, The New York Sun, January 3, 2007.
- John Berger is wrong, Anthony Julius and Simon Schama, The Guardian, December 22, 2006.
- “The call for a cultural boycott of Israel is banal, gestural and morally compromised.”