Ron Kampeas’ version of the NIF-NGO Monitor advertisement exchange misses key points and contains significant errors. He is right about NIF mimicking our style, but in contrast to NGO Monitor’s quotes and references, NIF’s version highlighted tendentious and largely irrelevant commentary.
His main criticism of NGO Monitor focuses on the emphasis we give to the contrast between NIF statements and its NGO funding. According to Kampeas, our contrast between the two constitutes “a manipulation” that confuses principles and policy.
Indeed, this is exactly NGO Monitor’s point, and we clearly distinguish between the two. Abstract principles and “red lines” are meaningless if they do not influence actions.
Kampeas also claims that NGO Monitor clipped quotes unfairly. He cites NIF-Israel’s Executive Director Rachel Liel’s statement: “There is a difference between publishing a report describing the conduct that in their opinion should be examined and going to Goldstone to hand over evidence.” However, NGO Monitor explicitly noted the examples in which NIF grantees took the initiative to “hand over evidence” to Goldstone. Eight NIF grantees submitted a joint statement to Goldstone alleging “human rights violations for which Israel must be held accountable.” B’Tselem reported that it "provided assistance to the investigative staff of the Goldstone mission from the beginning to the end of its research." Three NIF grantees (Adalah, PCATI, PHR-I) along with HRW and Amnesty met with Goldstone in May 2009 to help shape the direction of his investigation (recording available at NGO Monitor’s offices). And an official from PCATI testified at Goldstone’s hearings in July 2009. We also note the grantees that have been out front in the pro-Goldstone lobbying campaigns in Washington, London, Brussels, Geneva and elsewhere. (Unlike the Im Tirzu allegations, NGO Monitor’s analysis is not limited to the numerous quotes that Goldstone used from NGO reports.)
Regarding claims about allegedly “secret” funding for NGO Monitor, this is a cheap shot designed to divert attention from the substance of human rights claims and demonization. (We get no money from governments, and publish the names of our donors.) That this was the first item in NIF’s ad reflects NIF’s attempt to avoid engagement on the serious issues.
The NIF ad also claimed that the Route 443 case somehow shows that NGO Monitor is “fast and loose with the ‘facts’”. The opposite is true, as shown by the evidence. ACRI and other NIF grantees are quite vocal and proud about their responsibility for the Route 443 decision, and refer to the court’s decision as “a landmark ruling on an ACRI petition.” ACRI and B’Tselem created a special website, with an interactive “game”, and ACRI has continued to campaign for the implementation of its interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling.
It is not a “gross mischaracterization,” then, to claim that the decision is “the result of pressure” from NGOs. They use their very large resources, provided by NIF and by European governments, to become active “repeat players” in the Israeli legal process, much as political lobbies use money to gain access to political leaders in other countries. While this is a complex issue, discussion and analysis of the implications are certainly legitimate.
In future rounds of the NIF-NGO Monitor exchange, we suggest that analysts like Kampeas pay careful attention to the language and details. We do not claim to be infallible, and are open to serious criticism and correction, if this is warranted.
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg
President, NGO Monitor