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NGO hypocrisy in Gaza

On ignoring human rights when the humans are Israelis

As in all of Israel’s recent wars, the current conflict has a central political dimension, in which the network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are publishing a flood of attacks on Israel using allegations of “war crimes” and “human rights violations”. These claims are often copied in the media without thought or verification, and fuel the campaigns that demonize Israel – particularly in Europe – and seek to prevent the defense of civilians against terror. In this way, the moral principles of universal human rights are exploited for highly immoral purposes.

Amnesty International – which has a history of intense anti-Israeli ideological bias under a thin façade of human rights – was the first to attack within six hours, asserting that “Israel’s assassination of Ahmad al-Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing has placed civilians in Gaza and southern Israel at grave risk.” The thousands of rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, for which Jabari was responsible, including dozens this week, were ignored because they did not fit the anti-Israel straightjacket worn by many Amnesty officials. Krystian Benedict, Amnesty UK’s “campaigns manager” has flooded his Twitter account with snide and immoral attacks on Israel.

Amnesty’s statement on the Jabari killing also repeated the invented legal claims used in the previous political wars against Israel, including Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (December 2008/January 2009) and then copied in the discredited Goldstone report and other UN frameworks. In the latest version, they claimed to have “gathered evidence” of “indiscriminate attacks… in densely-populated residential areas that will inevitably harm civilians.” In this warped and immoral logic, it is not Hamas, which places and launches deadly rockets from homes and schools, that is guilty of war crimes, but rather the IDF and Israeli officials who are defending their citizens.

Similarly, an Oxfam International statement implied that Israel was not abiding by “obligations under international law.” Oxfam, which ostensibly is a humanitarian aid organization, has no credentials to make legal judgments. To make matters worse, they repeat the immoral equivalence between deliberate Palestinian terrorist attacks launched from civilian areas and directly targeting civilians with necessary Israeli self-defense. Oxfam went on to call on Israel to halt military operations in Gaza, while offering no alternatives to protect Israel’s population.

Indeed, Amnesty, Oxfam, and other NGOs have no independent means of analyzing any military activity and determining the facts or legality. In April 2002, it was an Amnesty “expert” – Derek Pounder – who appeared on the BBC and “confirmed” the “Jenin massacre” lie. This NGO human rights expert, like many others, including Goldstone, simply repeated Palestinian claims – that is the entirety of their methodology.

The strategy of using human rights claims to attack Israel was adopted in late August and September 2001, during the infamous NGO Forum of the UN-sponsored Durban conference, in which 1,500 delegations and 5000 officials, including from Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, participated. This forum adopted a final declaration, first presented in a preparatory conference held in Teheran, which uses the rhetoric of “apartheid,” “genocide,” and “war crimes” to promote the “complete isolation” of Israel. The Durban strategy was implemented in Jenin, Lebanon (2006), Gaza on many occasions, and again in the current round.

Israeli-based political advocacy NGOs have also contributed to the moral farce, which has done so much harm to the principles of human rights. For the past week, terrorists from Hamas-controlled Gaza launched dozens of rocket attacks against Israeli towns and cities. However, human rights NGOs, including groups such as Gisha, B’Tselem, Adalah, and others funded by the New Israel Fund and European governments, which issue a steady torrent of condemnations against Israel’s Gaza policies, have remained silent. Their record is very weak in terms of questioning the use of all available resources in Gaza to acquire thousands of rockets used for indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians, each of which constitutes a core violation of human rights and humanitarian law.

For these groups, their Palestinian counterparts that also use the façade and language of human rights, and their funder-enablers, Israelis do not have human rights.

About the Author
Gerald Steinberg is Professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor