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NGO Activity in Brief

By NGO Monitor
July 17, 2006

  • The Presbyterian Church USA held its 217th General Assembly (GA) on June 15-22. At the convention the GA effectively overturned the 2004 anti-Israel divestment resolution promoted by Sabeel." The Assembly also acknowledged the "hurt and misunderstanding among many members of the Jewish community and within our Presbyterian communion" that resulted from the action in 2004 and asked for "a new season of mutual understanding and dialogue." This reversal marks a significant setback in Sabeel's international drive for divestment.
  • War on Want (WoW), a highly political British charity noted for its denunciations of Israel, launched a fundraising campaign in June entitled "Together we can knock down Israel's Apartheid Wall." WoW condemned Israel's security barrier and declared that the "the Wall is not about Israeli security", ignoring evidence to the contrary.

    WoW also stepped up its own disinvestment campaign, claiming that British supermarket chains such as Tescos and Sainsburys are "implicated in Israel's war crimes against the Palestinian people." Wow held a meeting on July 9 at Amnesty International's headquarters in London, entitled "Profiting from the occupation: A people's tribunal to expose the corporations behind Israel's occupation of Palestine." Speakers included Jeff Halper of ICHAD, a politicized NGO which receives funds from the EU, and Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and board member of MIFTAH. Reverend Stephen Sizer, a prominent member of Sabeel UK and a major divestment campaigner, also spoke.

    WoW is being investigated by the Charity Commission for England and Wales following a complaint that this event contravened prohibitions on political campaigning.

    Former Pink Floyd lead singer Roger Waters who has promoted WoW's campaign against Israel's security barrier, sprayed graffiti on a walled section of the barrier outside Abu Dis near Jerusalem during his visit to Israel.
  • The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), based in France, completed a "Fact-finding Mission" in the Palestinian territories in conjunction with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. FIDH Secretary-General Olivier De Schutter headed the mission. Preliminary conclusions criticized Israel for withholding tax funds from the Hamas government, and erroneously described the cessation of aid by the U.S. and the EU as "economic sanctions."
  • Badil, an NGO promoting the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees, issued a press release on June 6 supporting "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel." The statement said "just as in the case of Apartheid South Africa...a comprehensive regime of ... BDS against Israel is not only the most politically effective but also the most morally sound strategy for bringing about Israel's compliance with international law and universal principles of human rights." Badil has been funded by the governments of Canada, Norway, Switzerland and Oxfam.
  • On June 26, B'Tselem was informed that the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign (BIG) listed it as a supporter of the boycott campaign. B'Tselem stated that it does not support such a campaign and that they would be writing to BIG to instruct them to remove B'Tselem's name from the list. B'Tselem is now no longer listed on the BIG website as a boycott supporter.



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