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NGO News in Brief

By NGO Monitor
May 7, 2008




Focus: NGOs at the Center of Durban Review Conference (DRC) Prepcom

  • The Durban Review Preparatory Committee (“Prepcom”) met between April 21 and May 2, 2008 in Geneva, with the goal of taking “a number of organizational decisions, including … accreditation of NGOs..”  The next meeting of the Prepcom is scheduled for May 26, 2008, and the DRC itself for the first half of 2009. Canada, Israel and the US have pulled out due to expectations of anti-Semitism following the pattern of the 2001 conference. These expectations were validated by the events related to NGO accreditation during the Prepcom.


Major developments at the April Prepcom included:
    
"the [2001] Durban Conference was not infected by anti-Semitism, and this accusation was a planned part of a cynical counter-attack by Israel and its allies throughout the world, in order to avoid providing a response to the serious accusations of racism…. "

In contrast, the demonization of Israel at Durban in 2001 has been denounced as anti-Semitism by the UK Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Semitism and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

NGO Monitor notes that on its website, AIC acknowledges the "generous support for its activities in 2008" from partners: … Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII [funded by the EU], … the Irish Government through the help [of] Christian Aid…"  

 


UK Charity Commission addresses War on Want over 'Apartheid Campaign'
    
The UK Charity Commission has addressed War on Want (WoW) after objections regarding its pamphlet, 'Together we can knock down Israel's Apartheid Wall'. In a March 13, 2008 reply to complaints which reflected NGO Monitor’s analyses, the Charity Commission writes that it has taken seriously concerns over War on Want's condemnation of the security barrier and support for trade sanctions against Israel.  The letter also states that WoW trustees have given "written assurances….that they will review their strategy on political campaigning and consult with [the commission] before pursuing further controversial campaigns." However WoW denied making such a commitment.  

See:    UK charity warned about anti-Israel campaign, Jonny Paul, Jerusalem Post,
            April 30, 2008

            News and Views From Europe. By Rachel Rogosnitzky, The Jewish Press,
            April 16, 2008.

            War on Want is warned over 'apartheid' campaign, David Ainsworth, Third Sector,
            23 April 2008.


 


NGO Monitor Monograph on EU funding

NGO Monitor has published a detailed study of EU funding for NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict, entitled "Europe's Hidden Hand". The fifty-page report provides the first in-depth analysis of this important area, and reveals that between 2005 and 2007, the EU provided tens of millions of Euros from public money to NGOs whose activities directly contradict EU policy. The report also analyzes the lack of transparency and accountability in EU funding of NGOs in this region.

See:




NGO condemnations of Gaza policy continue

Major NGOs continued to issue numerous statements condemning Israel's policy on Gaza, while minimizing terrorism, including the continued rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.  These statements also ignored the attempts by the Hamas-led government to manipulate and exacerbate the situation.

Human Rights Watch repeated the charge of "collective punishment" by Israel in its photo campaign on Gaza fuel cuts. [See NGO Monitor's report on HRW in 2007, which highlights HRW's disproportionate use of multimedia to demonize Israel and biased application of legal terms such as "collective punishment".]    

Gisha published two statements -- a news release on  April 14, 2008 and a fact sheet on April 17, 2008.  As in the past, both publications ignore Israel's ongoing commitment to supply Gaza with essential provisions, even under attack; and repeat distortions of international law, including the allegations of “collective punishment” (a repeated theme of political NGOs) and claims that Israel is legally obligated to supply Gaza. (See "Is Israel bound by international law to supply utilities, Goods and Services to Gaza," JCPA Issue Briefs, Vol 7 no. 33, February 2008 and "International Law and Gaza: The assault on Israel's right to Self Defense," JCPA January Vol 7. No, 29, both Avraham Bell)

The pro-Palestinian International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) concluded a "second high level mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel" in March, 2008.  Their report discussed "witnessing the devastating human rights and humanitarian consequences the Israeli Government's siege has imposed on Gaza's civilian population," and that "Israeli practices amount to collective punishment of the Palestinian population."  However, the statement does acknowledge "indiscriminate rocket attacks …against civilians..[which] put civilians at risk and impose a state of permanent fear," although it condemns Israel's "disproportionate and excessive military response."

Other NGOs, including Al Mezan and PCHR also  continued to condemn Israel for "violations of international humanitarian law" and "collective punishment."





More NGO Double Standards Regarding Death of Reuters Cameraman

After a Palestinian cameraman working with Reuters was killed during fighting in Gaza on April 16, 2008, a number of NGOs quickly and repeatedly condemned the IDF. B'tselem claimed in an April 17 press release that the shell that killed the cameraman was "illegal."  Amnesty International's statement the same day accused the IDF of "disregard for civilian life" and "routine use of reckless and disproportionate force". Human Rights Watch issued a press release (April 20, 2008), a letter to the IDF Judge Advocate General on May 1, and another press release on May 2, claiming that the "Israeli tank crew fired recklessly or deliberately at the journalist’s team."  In contrast, HRW has yet to comment on the March 2008 Mercaz Harav terrorist attack in which several Israeli children were murdered, nor issue a separate condemnation of the February Dimona suicide bombing, nor the January 15, 2008 killing of an Ecuadoran kibbutz volunteer, by a Gaza sniper.


 

Adalah – recent developments

Adalah petitioned the High Court on April 17, 2008 to "end discrimination in education against adult Arab prisoners."  In addition, this NGO continues to promote Israel as the new apartheid South Africa, including promotion of an "official Arab-Israeli delegation" visit to South Africa. Professor Marwan Dwairy, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Adalah, declared that just "as the struggle against the perpetrators and architects of apartheid played a major role in changing the racist regime in South Africa, our struggle against the Attorney General’s decision [to close the October 2000 riots case] compels us to expose the racial discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel."
 


NGOs erase terror to condemn closure of Hamas institution
     
Defence for Children International – Palestine Section, Al-Haq, Badil, The Palestinian Non-governmental Organisations’ Network (PNGO) and Applied Research Institute Jerusalem were among signatories to a  April 24, 2008, petition condemning the closure of institutions owned by the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron.  The statement called the action a "war crime" and a claimed that it "contravene[s] international humanitarian and human rights law."  There was no mention of the alleged links between the Society and the planning and execution of terrorist attacks, for example the February suicide bombing in Dimona.



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