Human Rights NGO that monitors and reports on Israeli Defense Force checkpoints
Machsom Watch (a.k.a. Women for Human Rights) was established in January 2001 by three Israeli women -- Ronnee Jaeger, a longtime human rights activist in Guatemala and Mexico; Adi Kuntsman, a feminist scholar who emigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in 1990; and veteran activist Yehudit Keshet, an orthodox Jew. They formed Machsom Watch "in response to repeated reports in the press about human rights abuses [against] Palestinians crossing army and border police checkpoints." The word "machsom" is Hebrew for "checkpoint," a reference to Israeli Defense Force (IDF) checkpoints designed to prevent West Bank-based Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel.
With a membership composed exclusively of Israeli women, Machsom Watch identifies its goals as: "to monitor the behavior of soldiers and police at checkpoints"; "to ensure that the human and civil rights of Palestinians attempting to enter Israel are protected"; and "to record and report the results of our observations to the widest possible audience, from the decision-making level to that of the general public." Perhaps the most notable of Machsom Watch's 400 current members is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's daughter Dana.
Machsom Watch condemns what it calls [t]he excessive Israeli response to the El Aksa [a.k.a. Al Aqsa] Intifada, and Israel's prolonged closure and siege of [Palestinian] villages and towns on the West Bank. The organization produces regular reports that, according to NGO Monitor, use emotive and politically charged language that contributes to the demonization of Israel. In June 2006 Machsom Watch reported: Over the past five years we have seen that restricting freedom of movement doesn't stop at the checkpoints. It also comes into play each time Palestinians encounter the state authorities. ... With time, we've realized that [Israeli] state entities are being recruited to enforce bureaucratic regulations that are aimed solely at impeding the Palestinians' lives.
The IDF has accused Machsom Watch of disrupting the operation of checkpoints, and of making false, (often) profanity-laced accusations against the Israeli troops stationed there.
Tax-deductible donations to Machsom Watch are made through the New Israel Fund, which is one of Machsom Watch's leading supporters. Other noteworthy benefactors include the Samuel Sebba Charitable Trust, the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israe, the Royal Norwegian Embassy, and George Soros's Open Society Foundations.
Parts of this profile are reprinted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.
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