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NGO News in Brief

By NGO Monitor
October 7, 2008


Focus: NGO Report to Quartet -- Propaganda vs. humanitarian aid

A number of international NGOs which claim to promote humanitarian aid published a lobbying document on September 25, 2008, entitled "The Middle East Quartet: a progress report."  Despite claiming to present "evidence" and "verdicts" on the Quartet policy recommendations to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the report is a compilation of claims from other NGO reports, many of which lack credibility or have been exposed as inaccurate.  The selective and misrepresentative descriptions reveal the strong political agenda of the signatory NGOs, and their implementation of the NGO strategy from the UN 2001 Durban Conference and in the preparations for the 2009 review conference.

The report was produced by political NGOs that have been analyzed by NGO Monitor, including CARE International UK (and national CARE branches), Christian Aid, CAFOD, DanChurchAid, Diakonia, EMHRN, Medico International, Medicins Du Monde, Oxfam International, Save the Children (Sweden and UK), UCP (including Oxfam Novib, Cordaid, ICCO, IKV Pax Christi), World Vision Jerusalem.

Publications provided as "sources" in this report include:

  • "The Gaza Strip: A humanitarian implosion" - Analyzed in detail by NGO Monitor and shown to include factual inaccuracies, omissions and distortions.
  • Yesh Din's July 2008 data sheet. NGO Monitor' examination revealed "methodologies that limit the credibility of [its] claims, and has the appearance of academic methods without the substance": misrepresentative samples, double counting and a disregard for comparative data.
  • UNICEF report quoting the "1612 working group," whose members include Palestinian political NGOs such as Addameer, Al Haq, Al Mezan, Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-PS).  Much of the "research" is provided by DCI-PS, whose political advocacy, contradictory evidence and unverifiable claims have been exposed in detail by NGO Monitor.
  • Other sources include UN OCHA (whose strong political bias and lack of credibility has been shown in past NGO Monitor reports); the Negotiations Affairs Department (a Palestinian propaganda arm); PNGO (a key proponent of the Durban strategy to delegitimize Israel in international fora); and WHO (see NGO Monitor's findings that the WHO's April 2008 report was based on unreliable and false NGO claims).

Misleading claims which reveal the report's politicized agenda include:

  • The report cites the ICJ advisory opinion on the Separation barrier as though it were a legally binding ruling - despite its discredited nature.
  • The report's extensive discussion of the impact of checkpoints and "the Wall" on Palestinians is contrasted with only one mention of Israel's need to protect is citizens. In a farcical contortion, the report admits that the "number or Israeli deaths from terrorism has decreased from a peak in 2002," while claiming that "we are not in a position to attribute causes to the decrease."
  • The report promotes the NGO mantra of "collective punishment of Palestinians," and that Gaza is still occupied, despite the lack of basis for these claim.
  • The main body of the report addresses intra-Palestinian violence, and finds "grave human rights abuses." Yet the Executive Summary ignores this point, and focuses primarily on Israeli "obligations" and "obstacles."

Despite these deficiencies, these claims were quoted uncritically by the International Herald Tribune, BBC News, the Irish Times, the Independent, the Guardian, and many other international media sources.


Halo Effect: PCHR invents "settler" murder libel and media follows

On September 28, 2008, a Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) published a press release headlined "Palestinian Shepherd Killed by Settlers in Nablus" and condemned "this heinous crime."  PCHR also accused the "Israeli Occupying Force" of complicity in the "murder," and demanded that "Israeli authorities…disarm all Israeli settlers, who pose a serious and continuing threat to the lives of Palestinian civilians." As noted by the Jerusalem Post, PCHR's version of events was repeated in Israeli and international media without question, providing another example of the NGO "halo effect".

However, an Israeli police investigation determined that the victim died after mishandling unexploded ordinance and that there was no evidence of shooting. Yet EU-funded PCHR has not corrected the mistake, and the original press release is still on the PCHR website. (PCHR, whose lack of credibility and bias has been documented by NGO Monitor, is funded by the European Commission, European governments, church groups and other sources.)



EU will not renew ICAHD funding

In an "urgent message" to members of ICAHD-USA, Director Jeff Halper announced, "We have just heard that our request for re-funding [from the European Union] has been rejected...So we now face a real crisis." NGO Monitor' research has shown that EU funding represented the majority of ICAHD's budget, despite the EU's claim that it only grants project support. (EU decision making for funding highly political NGOs such as ICAHD is highly secretive, as documented in NGO Monitor' report Europe' Hidden Hand.)

The Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) promotes a highly politicized narrative of the conflict, falsely accusing Israelof "ethnic cleansing" and "state terrorism" and using demonization rhetoric that is unrelated to housing issues. In August, Jeff Halper was a leading activist on the Free Gaza boat trip, a political publicity stunt operated under the façade of "humanitarian aid."


B'Tselem opens office in Washington, DC amid criticism and debate

On September 24, 2008, B'Tselem announced the opening of a US office in Washington, D.C. "to become the central clearinghouse for information about human rights conditions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip for Member of Congress, the State Department and other policy makers." Although claiming to promote human rights, B'Tselem's main objectives are political, and focused on ending the "occupation." Its Washington office will be headed by Mitchell Plitnick, who was active in the radical group known as Jewish Voice for Peace, which promotes anti-Israel demonization, using terms such as "apartheid," and referring to the 1948 Arab invasion and the creation of Israel as the "naqba" (catastrophe).  

B'Tselem's also launch comes amid debate on its "Shooting Back" video camera project needlessly endangers children; and that its statistics on Palestinian casualties are "deceptive" and "untrustworthy."


Amnesty continues anti-Israel campaign

In anticipation of the September 8, 2008 United Nations General Assembly debate on the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Amnesty International published a "review of the type of human rights violations committed in the pursuit of counter-terrorism measures, citing a range of country examples from every region of the world." Israel is included in the category for maintaining an overly "broad definition of terrorism," "systematically erode[ing] the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation" in order to prevent attacks on civilians. According to the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which is strongly endorsed by Amnesty, "the respect for human rights for all and the rule of law [are] the fundamental bas[es] for the fight against terrorism."

In contrast, in September, the family of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped and held in Gaza since 2006, urged Amnesty International to intervene on his behalf. In response, a representative of Amnesty stated: "Our concern is that Gilad Shalit be treated humanely at all times. We have met Hamas to raise our concern and we will continue to put pressure on Hamas to fulfill those demands. There is no reason that would ever justify them denying him Red Cross visitors."


Jewish NGOs silenced at UNHRC

During a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session on the "Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories," a joint NGO statement by two Jewish groups, Bnai Brith International and the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, was interrupted by the representative from Egypt. He rejected the "seriousness" of these NGOs and their questioning of the one-sided condemnations of Israel.  In a video released by Eye on the UN, the president of the UNHRC can be seen accepting the Egyptian' point-of-order, silencing the Jewish NGOs.


Medecins Sans Frontieres' responsible reporting on Gaza health care crisis

In a short video about scarce medical resources in Gaza, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) highlighted Hamas' forced redundancies of Fatah supporters and the subsequent health care workers' strike. In contrast to other NGO reports on Gaza, the MSF video did not blame Israel for problems that are a direct result of intra-Palestinian fighting.

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