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New Israel report exposes role of NGO Monitor in defaming rights activists

MEMO | October 1, 2018

A new Israeli report has accused right-wing pressure group NGO Monitor of “spearheading the shrinking of space for Israeli and Palestinian human rights NGOs”.

The “Shrinking Space” report – “NGO Monitor: Defaming human rights organisations that criticize the Israeli occupation” – is the work of a collective of Israeli ex-diplomats, academics and others, known as the Policy Working Group (PWG), that supports a two-state solution.

NGO Monitor was established in 2002 under the auspices of right-wing think tank the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, and has been independent since 2007.

Its declared goal of promoting “transparency and accountability of NGOs claiming human rights agendas” is described by the PWG report as “disingenuous”.

“In fact,” the report claims, “years of experience show that NGO Monitor’s overarching objective is to defend and sustain government policies that help uphold Israel’s occupation of, and control over, the Palestinian territories.”

The new, in-depth report “concludes and argues that NGO Monitor is a government-affiliated organisation that selectively targets human rights organisations, relies almost entirely on funding from donors in the US, shirks the transparency it demands of others and disseminates misleading and tendentious information, which it presents as factual in-depth research.”

“As an organisation whose purpose is to scrutinise others, NGO Monitor itself has so far received little scrutiny of its own. After years of evasion, it is time to monitor NGO Monitor,” PWG adds.

Among the areas of critique found in the PWG report, NGO Monitor is accused of a selective focus, a right-wing political agenda, and of “close ties with the [Israeli] government”.

NGO Monitor plays a key role in providing Israeli ministries and diplomatic missions with misleading information to defame Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations

PWG states, “and mobilises the government to pressure European counterparts to stop funding them”.

“In Israel,” meanwhile, “it acts as a catalyst for anti-democratic legislation that selectively targets such NGOs.”

The PWG report also accuses of NGO Monitor of publishing articles and reports containing “baseless claims and factual inaccuracies”, while also “fram[ing] the occupation of the Palestinian territories as an internal Israeli affair in which other countries must not interfere”.

October 1, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

How Israel Silences Palestine in EU Circles

By Issam Aruri | IMEMC | July 18, 2018

The Israeli propaganda machine works internationally to undermine the role of Palestinian NGOs which disclose Israeli violations of international law, and maintain the well-being of Palestinian people.

Imagine the following: a toxic op-ed is published that defames your organisation. You contact the website on which it features and are invited to publish a rebuttal.

The next day, you submit your article. As the editors are about to put it online, they are targeted by a sophisticated disinformation campaign.

More than a dozen people call the editors, seemingly on your behalf, and apply heavy pressure to publish the article. One of the callers even tries to bribe them to get it published.

This confuses and intimidates the editors, who have never experienced anything like it.

They fear that publishing under pressure may damage the independence and reputation of their website, which is a news magazine for the European Parliament.

The editors contact you and you clarify right away that none of these calls originated from your organisation. You urge them to publish your article, as they had promised. But despite your repeated requests, they don’t do so. They don’t even respond anymore to your phone calls and emails.

This is what recently happened to the Palestinian NGO network PNGO, which is an umbrella of 134 civil society organisations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The op-ed in question was mine, which I had submitted to a Brussels-based website called EP Today.

According to its own information, EP Today is “designed only” for policy opinions by members of the European Parliament. On 26 February, however, it published a slanderous op-ed by NGO Monitor that targeted PNGO.

NGO Monitor is an Israeli right-wing organisation that cooperates with the Israeli government in undermining NGOs that criticise Israel’s violations of human rights and international law.

It constantly attacks Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and dozens of other human rights and civil society organisations, including Israeli NGOs. PNGO is high on its target list.

In its article, NGO Monitor provided false and misleading information about PNGO’s mission and conduct.

While PNGO is a catalyst for a vibrant civil society in Palestine, NGO Monitor framed PNGO as a “ring leader” of a “gang” of NGOs that shrink Palestinian civil space.

Can’t be ignored

For a long time, we ignored organisations like NGO Monitor that provide cover for the Israeli occupation. But this time, we decided to submit a rebuttal to this toxic propaganda.

As mentioned above, EP Today violated its promise and didn’t publish our rebuttal. To make things worse, our article was apparently forwarded to NGO Monitor, which allegedly tried to prevent its publication.

An editor we spoke to implied this, with reference to one member of EP Today’s board of directors, who seems to have ties to NGO Monitor. This would constitute grave professional misconduct, calling into question EP Today’s independence and integrity.

In any case, we won’t be silenced. Our rebuttal of NGO Monitor’s propaganda, titled “What Europe can do to defend civil space: a response by the Palestinian NGO Network”, is now available for everyone, after we published it on our website.

Meanwhile, our real concern is not the article.

What troubles and burdens us is the big picture: the all-out attack that the Israeli government and its affiliated organisations such as NGO Monitor have launched against Palestinian human rights defenders.

Shrinking space for civil society is a global phenomenon. However, the threat it poses in Palestine has an extra dimension: Israel’s strangling military occupation, which began more than 51 years ago.

As a result of the occupation, Palestinians live without a sovereign government, without basic protection and in a fragile economy that heavily relies on international aid.

In this context, PNGO’s member organisations play a crucial and indispensable role in providing services and in preserving social cohesion.

Israel’s attack on us aims to neutralise NGOs that expose its violations of international law and to break the backbone of Palestinian society at large. The attack is meant to sustain and entrench the occupation.

Our reality

The reality in which we live is this: We face draconian digital surveillance and interference by Israel, which violates our fundamental privacy and obstructs our work.

I suspect this triggered the disinformation campaign described above (see AP’s article for more: “Covertly, Israel prepares to fight boycott activists online”).

Like NGO Monitor, the Israeli government engages in smear campaigns against Palestinian NGOs.

For example, on 1 July 2017, Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon branded our members Al-Haq and Al-Mezan as “supporters of terror”, based on false allegations that they have ties to Hamas and the PFLP.

Al-Haq and Al-Mezan are internationally renowned human rights organisations.

Most recently, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs published a slanderous report that contains similar allegations and aggressively accuses the EU of funding Palestinian and European NGOs that sponsor terror and promote Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS – the Palestinian-led global campaign putting pressure on Israel to end its violations of international law).

Indeed, blocking EU funding to Palestinian NGOs is Israel’s declared goal.

In 2015 and 2016, the director and a staff member of Al-Haq received ongoing death threats.

In response to the threats against the staff member, who is based in The Netherlands and Al-Haq’s representative to the International Criminal Court, the Dutch authorities opened a criminal investigation.

While official results are pending, all indications point in Israel’s direction.

PNGO and the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC) have compiled their concerns about the escalating campaign to silence, delegitimise and defund Palestinian civil society organisations and human rights defenders in a joint position paper, including recommendations to the EU.

For decades, the EU has invested into civil society organisations in Israel and Palestine that promote its core values “on the ground”. The support and protection of human rights defenders is a declared priority of the EU, as also displayed by the guidelines it adopted in 2008 to that end.

On 3 October 2017, in a comprehensive resolution, the European Parliament sounded alarm about the shrinking space for civil society and called “for continued and increased EU support and funding in creating a free and enabling environment for civil society.”

This is the time to act on these commitments.

We rely on the EU to shield us from Israel’s campaign to destroy Palestinian civil society, which has spread to Europe and is reinforced by organisations like NGO Monitor that are designed to shrink our space.

~EU Observer/Days of Palestine

Issam Aruri is the chair of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations Network (PNGO), an umbrella of 134 civil society organisations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that promote the rights and well-being of the Palestinian people.

July 30, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli MKs, NGO Monitor Invent False Anti-Semitic Claims Against BDS

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | August 16, 2016

Israeli and American Jewish media have become willing facilitators of yet another fraud perpetrated by right-wing MKs and their NGO counterparts. The Knesset foreign affairs committee began the fraud by titling the hearing, “Singling Out Jewish Students by BDS on U.S. Campuses.” MK Anat Berko, who touts herself as a former IDF colonel and “expert” on Islamist terror, made flagrantly false claims that the BDS movement compiled lists of Jewish students along with their addresses. Berko is the solon who claimed Palestine doesn’t exist because there is no “P” in Arabic. Not to be outdone, MKs from Yesh Atid and Labor also chimed in supporting this hash of a hearing. The charges were formulated as if this were BDS’ first step toward a Final Solution of the Israel Problem. For those pro-Israelists without a sense of humor, the above sentence was meant entirely ironically.

Arutz 7, a settler website, ran this headline: Jews Persecuted Around the World. A video of some of the proceedings (in Hebrew) is here. NGO Monitor, a group whose leader was sued successfully for libel by an Israeli Palestinian non-profit group, even claimed that BDS’ anti-Semitic activism could be criminal in nature. Another NGO, Reservists to the Front, which was founded to combat Breaking the Silence, joined in claiming (without any evidence) that there were 941 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2015. 90 were committed on campuses. He added, for good measure:

Jewish students are the most persecuted minorities on U.S. campuses, bar none.

Former Shin Bet chief and current Likud MK testified not just to his histrionic view of BDS, but his abject racism:

“BDS is an anti-Semitic wave against Jews. To my sorrow, it exists in nations considered enlightened and campuses considered intellectual [sic]. The style of BDS activists bring an Olympic judo medal, but nothing respectable. A great portion of BDS activism springs from the frustration of recent years when the subject of Palestine has sunk from the international agenda.”

Dichter continued his delusional rant thanking the Reservists group for the fake claims they offered: “The things done against Jewish students are carried out with the intent of harming Israel.”

eviction-notice-456x580The former domestic security agency chief was alluding to a bit of guerilla theater in which Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) placed “eviction notices” under the dormitory room doors of students at NYU. Jewish students who received the notices filed complaints with the administration that they were targeted because they were Jews. In reality, two dormitories received the flyers. One of them contained a Shabbat elevator for observant Jewish students. Both buildings contained both Jewish and non-Jewish students and there is no evidence that Jewish students were the only ones targeted for the notices.

NGO Monitor claimed that SJP deliberately distributed eviction notices to non-Jewish students so it could not be prosecuted for a hate crime. Again, an evidence-free claim. This action did not involve, as the media reports allege, any lists of Jewish students, their mail or e-mail addresses. None of the reports substantiate this claim with any evidence whatsoever. There is no evidence. Even the ADL, not known for its fondness for BDS acknowledged this in the Forward :

“According to our research, there is no evidence pointing to Students for Justice in Palestine compiling specific lists of Jewish students.”

Even more virulent pro-Israel groups stepped back from Berko’s hoax:

… Officials from the Zionist Organization of America and Stand With Us…. told the Forward they had no knowledge of this sort of activity taking place.

But that didn’t stop other members of the pro-Israel media. The Times of Israel (which Jeffrey Goldberg calls a “highly credible” publication):

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-Palestinian student advocacy group, has been compiling lists of Jewish students on college campuses in North America and detailing their dorm address information, raising fears for the students’ safety, Israel Radio reports.

The report came as the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee met earlier Tuesday to discuss Israel boycott efforts at US colleges.

Israel HaYom also went to town on the report. It’s come to smell like a bunch of flies buzzing around a corpse of a story. That’s what all the lies amount to. Defending the indefensible. You get tired of having to defend Israel’s oppression and so you turn the tables and blame the accusers, the victims. They’re not the real victims, you are. They hate you. Want you dead. You? You did nothing wrong. It’s all their fault. Focus it all on them. Then they won’t be able to shine the light back at you and what you’ve done.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

Israeli government lashes out, as evangelicals’ pro-Israel consensus thing of the past

MEMO | March 10, 2014

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued an unprecedented attack on a Christian conference taking place in Bethlehem this week, accusing organisers of “using religion for the purpose of incitement”.

Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC), hosted by Bethlehem Bible College, is the third such gathering following successful conferences in 2010 and 2012. Delegates predominantly hail from Protestant communities in Europe and North America, and in particular from evangelical churches and organisations.

As such, the Israeli government and its lobby groups see CATC as threatening the pro-Israel support long characteristic of much of the evangelical community. As an Israel MFA official told Christian Zionist publication Israel Today, the conference “is particularly problematic, because it is designed for the evangelical Christian leadership – an extremely important audience to us.”

The Israeli government statement released to Israel Today reads as follows:

The attempt to use religious motifs in order to mobilize political propaganda and agitate the feelings of the faithful through the manipulation of religion and politics is an unacceptable and shameful act. Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy.

In addition, the Israeli government claimed to have “already actively targeted specific participants in the conference, as well as leaders of the groups who will attend the event, in a coordinated effort to expose them to our side of the story”.

Prior to the MFA statement, groups known for attacking human rights defenders and supporters of Palestinian rights such as NGO Monitor and Christians United for Israel had already lambasted the conference.

There was no sign that the attacks would have a detrimental effect on the conference programme, with speakers and delegates beginning a full schedule of events, many of which will be streamed online.

March 10, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NGO Monitor declares terminology used by Israel’s Danny Ayalon to be “anti-Semitic”

By Ben White – The Electronic Intifada – 02/13/2012

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, recently reported back on her visit to Palestine/Israel — and the conclusions are no surprise for anyone familiar with Israeli apartheid.

Rolnik writes that “Israel’s land and planning regime has discriminated against certain groups on the basis of their ethnic origin,” noting Israel’s “frontiers of dispossession” where the state implements “a strategy of Judaisation and control of the territory.”

For her use of the term “Judaization,” Rolink earned the drummed-up outrage of right-wing pressure group NGO Monitor, which screamed “anti-Semitism” and demanded her resignation. Claiming the term “originated with Arab rejectionists” and is “promoted by fringe [NGOs]”, the group called Judaization “an anti-Jewish racist term which suggests that the presence of Jews is alien and unacceptable”.

One person who will have been worried to read NGO Monitor’s press release is Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who can only hope that the lobby groups’ keen body of researchers never alight on his own declaration that “the focus for today is to Judaize the Negev and the Galilee”.

Joking aside, NGO Monitor’s ridiculous reaction is either disingenuous or ignorant, since the term ‘Judaization’ is common currency for Israeli academics and politicians to refer to policies aimed at boosting the Jewish population in areas deemed to have ‘too high’ a proportion of Palestinians.

These policies of land confiscation and settlement are not new. As Professor Hillel Cohen, of the Hebrew University, put it, “the project of ‘Judaizing the Galilee’ commenced when the state was founded and has continued in various guises to the present day”.

Another Israeli academic, Dr Haim Yacobi of Ben-Gurion University, has written how “the Judaization project is driven by the Zionist premise that Israel is a territory and a state that ‘belongs’ to, and only to, the Jewish people.”

Like Danny Ayalon, other Israeli public officials speak of this ‘demographic’ struggle – such as Rabbi Dov Lior’s call for the public to act to “Judaize“ the town of Nazareth Illit, or the local council head who said, “We want to Judaize the Wadi Ara area…The state wants to put this place in order so that the Arabs won’t rear their heads.”

Thus those who try and say “Judaization” suggests the “presence of Jews is alien and unacceptable” have got it half right, but suffer from that classic Zionist problem: projection.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 2 Comments