For three days this week (November 7- 9), the UN’s permanent Commission of Inquiry (COI) against Israel conducted hearings in Geneva and virtually, ostensibly to investigate whether Israel was justified in designating seven Palestinian NGOs as terror organizations, due to their links to the PFLP. In practice, this was a forum for Commission members and NGO representatives to join in attempts to silence NGO Monitor’s independent research.
Highlighting the unique, decade-plus role of NGO Monitor in researching, identifying, and documenting the extensive ties between Palestinian “civil society organizations” and the PFLP terror group – multiple NGO officials from this network told the COI that NGO Monitor influenced government decisions to end funding for PFLP-linked actors. For instance, a representative from Health Workers Committees (HWC) stated that they had lost 35 of their 40 institutional donors. Officials representing HWC, Addameer, and Al-Haq accused NGO Monitor of “smearing” them, and falsely claimed that we fabricated evidence based solely on “guilt by association.”
Commissioner Miloon Kothari, regarding whom NGO Monitor filed a formal complaint with the UN Human Rights Council President for blatant antisemitism, solicited defamatory comments about NGO Monitor from those appearing at the hearing. For example, Kothari asked Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard, representing Al-Haq: “Have you personally looked into this organization (NGO Monitor) in terms of their functioning, in terms of their funding? They seem to be behind a lot of what is going wrong.”
In addition, the hearings were a carefully manipulated kangaroo court. The Commissioners and NGOs sought to create a tendentious record endorsed by the UN and to be shared with other actors to bolster further whitewashing of the evidence as well as to silence legitimate debate.The hearings were announced less than a week prior to their commencement, and the only groups chosen to participate were those that would support the COI’s predetermined conclusions and would deny the overwhelming evidence of links between the NGOs and the PFLP. Those with dissenting viewpoints or concrete evidence (such as NGO Monitor) were unwelcome and not invited to appear.
This record contrasts sharply with COI head Navi Pillay’s closing remarks, claiming that “that this commission has invited submissions from all parties… We stand ready to hear submissions or to hear alternate voices..”
The COI’s role in retaliating against our organization and its unprofessional conduct should be yet another reason to disband the COI.