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NGO News in Brief

By NGO Monitor
January 3, 2008

Focus: ‘Durban 2009', NGOs, and Restoring the Integrity of Human Rights - Progress Report 

  The NGO Forum of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance initiated a coordinated NGO campaign of virulent anti-Israel demonization – the "Durban Strategy." The UN’s "Durban II" 2009 conference is intended to focus on implementation of the 2001 declaration, but opposition is growing.

On December 22, 2007, 40 countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, voted against the UN’s budget proposal for Durban II.  The motion passed 94 to 40 and in response, the US voted against the UN’s overall 2008-09 budget--to which it is the largest single contributor.

Both Durban II preparations, and the US's unprecedented steps, have generated debate this month. See:

NGO Monitor continues to scrutinize NGO involvement in planning the 2009 Conference, and will remain focused on communicating with NGOs and their funders in order to prevent a repeat of 2001. To view the NGO Monitor Durban 2009 essentials page, click here; NGO Monitor's Submission to the 2009 Durban Conference Preparatory Meeting (August 2007) can be viewed here.

News in Brief:

Radical NGOs pull out of 'Anti-Annapolis conference' hosted by Spanish government

NGO Monitor reported the collapse of the Forum for a Just Peace in the Middle East, which was scheduled to take place December 14-16 in Madrid. This Forum was organized by the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and Ittajah, in conjunction with a number of Spanish and other European NGO groups, as well as ICAHD (funded by the EU) and the Alternative Information Centre (AIC). The Spanish government had agreed to host the conference, but decided, against the wishes of many of the radical NGOs, to invite Israeli groups that favor a two-state solution to the conflict, including the Peres Center for Peace. As a result, organizing NGOs publicly boycotted the conference. The rejectionist positions of these NGOs, clearly stated in the pre-conference 'Reference Document', raises serious questions about the Spanish Government's original decision to fund and support the conference.

World Vision representative at UN (Geneva) – promotes hatred of Israel

NGO Monitor has reported on extreme anti-Israel bias in the publications and activities of World Vision – a powerful organization which receives funding from US Aid, Irish Aid, and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On November 29, 2007, the director of international relations for World Vision, Thomas Getman, continued this pattern in a speech in Geneva marking the 60th anniversary of UN Resolution 181, which called for the creation of two states, one Arab and one Jewish. According to UN Watch, Getman "sought to promote hatred of Israel among the delegates." His speech failed to mention ongoing Palestinian terrorist and missile attacks against Israel, and employed manipulative, emotionally charged rhetoric. Getman called on his audience to “think about the first child that each of us saw in a terrible situation because of the Israeli occupation…” Following the November 29, 2007 UN Watch report, an exchange took place between Getman and UN Watch, which the watchdog organization has posted on their website. Getman accuses UN Watch of “twisting words or intentions for other motives”; UN Watch responds to this charge. To view the dialogue, click here.


Israeli Attorney General and IDF investigations conclude no Israeli ´war crimes´ in 2006 Lebanon War

As NGO Monitor has reported in detail, during the Israel-Hezbollah war in July/August 2006, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), as well as other NGOs, published numerous reports condemning Israeli actions and accusing Israel of "war crimes". In his December, 2007 testimony to the Winograd Commission, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz's affirmed that Israel did not violate international law in the Qana bombing on July 30, 2006, nor is Israel guilty of war crimes or the use of "disproportionate force." His testimony refutes claims made by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and numerous other human rights organizations during and after the conflict.

A major charge from Amnesty and HRW was that Israel's use of cluster bombs violated international law (both NGOs promote the international campaign for a ban on all cluster munitions). On December 24, 2007 the IDF released the results (in Hebrew) of its own investigation regarding the use of cluster bombs during the war (for English summaries, see Ha'aretz and the Associated Press). According to Ha'aretz, the IDF investigation concluded that the use of cluster munitions by Israel "was conducted in an effort to stop the continued launch of Katyusha rockets against Israel's civilian population…[the IDF investigation] concluded that the use of cluster munitions is permissible under international law and noted that Western armies use this type of weapon."

NGO Monitor's submission to the Winograd Commission highlighted NGO exploitation of human rights rhetoric and international law to promote a politicized anti-Israel agenda.

See also NGO Monitor's response to Amnesty International's call for "investigation" following finding on the legality of IDF response to Hezbollah missiles, January 01, 2008.


The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) funded by EU repeats "war crimes" claims on 2006 Lebanon war

The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA)—which has received funding from the European Unionannounced on December 11 the findings of its report -- 'Civilians in Danger: The Location of Temporary and Permanent Military Installations Close to Arab Communities during the Second Lebanon War'. According to HRA, "Israel violated the specific obligation imposed by international humanitarian law to refrain from locating military installations within or close to civilian centers."

Based on the testimonies of 80 Arab residents, the report claims that “temporary military installations from which missiles were fired [by Israel] into Lebanon during the war were indeed positioned in very close proximity to the Arab locales that suffered the gravest attacks during the war. This is in addition to permanent military installations in existence prior to the war… communities that were not surrounded by military installations, including villages close to Israel’s northern border, were not hit by rockets, or suffered a lesser degree of damage.” However, Attorney Tarek Ibrahim, who helped draft the report, told YNet news: "we do not have the tools to check" whether the IDF and the government used Israeli Arab communities as human shields.

According a December 11, 2007 YNet article, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) “vehemently denied the claims specified in the report, saying that during the war various military installations were positioned throughout the Galilee region in order to protect the residents of the north, including the Arabs, from rocket attacks by Hezbollah. The decision on where to position these installations was based solely on operational considerations."

Adalah (funded by NIF and EU) advocates "supranational regime in all of historic Palestine"

As NGO Monitor has reported, Adalah (funded by the European Union and the New Israel Fund) published a draft "Democratic Constitution" in March 2007, calling on Israel “to recognize its responsibility for past injustices suffered by the Palestinian people…[and] the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.” A December 20, 2007 article in Ha'aretz written by Eyal Shayshon from the Reut Institute, notes that Adalah’s proposal calls for, "a 'democratic constitution for a supranational regime in all of historic Palestine,' including the territory of Israel and the Palestinian Authority." Adalah sources claim this will "not aim to do away with Israel or delegitimize its existence," but "is meant in large part to ensure that the Palestinian refugees can fulfill their right of return." Despite Adalah Director Hassan Jabareen's denial that this statement "does not recognize Israel's borders,” the proposal echoes the "one state solutions" that are promoted by radical Palestinian and anti-Israel groups. Adalah's continued support for a "right of return" for all Palestinians (often termed a "euphemism for the demographic destruction of Israel”) as well as a "supranational" framework, are further evidence of Adalah's position which rejects Israel as a democratic and a Jewish state. This is also consistent with Adalah's submissions to the United Nations, including the language of demonization.

For further discussion of Adalah's recent statements, see: 'Adalah's New Proposal: A Dramatic Shift', Eyal Shayshon, Ha'aretz (English edition), December 28, 2007

'Israel Independence Fund' founded as alternative to New Israel Fund

A December 7, 2007 Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) article reveals that a new foundation, the 'Israel Independence Fund',  meant to provide an alternative to the New Israel Fund (NIF), will be set up by Israeli Nobel Laureate (Economics) Robert Aumann and Daphne Netanyahu, an Israeli law professor and Benjamin Natanyahu’s sister-in-law.  According to the article, "Israel Independence Fund leaders say that Jews across the world have essentially been duped into giving their support to socially progressive NGOs that in reality promote anti-Zionist ideals."

The article highlights growing criticism of the NIF and notes the support it has received from the Ford Foundation. As detailed analysis by NGO Monitor has shown, NIF funds a number of anti-Israel NGOs, including Adalah. To read NGO Monitor's latest reporting on the NIF, click here.

Human Rights Firsts' director calls for NGO accountability, vigilance

In an op-ed December 25, 2007 in the Jerusalem Post - published in the context of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) 13th Mediterranean Seminar on “Tolerance and Non-Discrimination” held December 18-19, 2007 in Tel Aviv (agenda, with speakers list, can be viewed here) - Michael Posner, the director of NGO Human Rights First (HRF), noted that “most European governments are failing to address the issue with the urgency it requires.” He addressed the role of NGOs, stating that, “While NGOs can and have compensated somewhat for these failures, in terms of monitoring and reporting incidents, there is ultimately no substitute for official vigilance.” Posner denounced the racism of other NGO officials in the Durban 2001 anti-racism conference. In contrast to many human rights advocacy groups active in the Middle East, HRF presents a balanced and unpoliticized approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict. In June 2007, HRF published a comprehensive survey on hate crimes, including attacks on Jews, Muslims, the Roma and Sinti, as well as violence based on sexual orientation, and disability prejudice.

Read more about this issue on NGO Monitor’s Blog.

BADIL launches ‘Nakba 60 campaign’

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights – which has received funding from sources including Oxfam, Canadian International Development Agency, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the Swiss Foreign Ministry – is one of the most active NGOs in promoting extremist Palestinian political positions in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a signatory to an August 2002 call to boycott Israel, which repeats the NGO Declaration of the 2001 Durban conference. In a November 29, 2007 press release, BADIL announced “a year-long campaign of public awareness-raising and education about the Nakba and Israel's discriminatory Apartheid-like regime over the Palestinian people in the 1967 OPT, Israel and in exile.” The campaign is to be carried out by the "the global Palestine Right-of-Return Coalition and the global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS)", which also includes the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO). In the press release, BADIL endorses the claims to a “right of return” for refugees, and declares that Israel's very existence as a “Jewish State” contravenes “International Law.”

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