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A map essential to understanding Israel’s decision to declare 1000 acres of land in the Etzion bloc “state land”

A map essential to understanding Israel’s decision to declare 1000 acres of land in the Etzion bloc “state land” Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

There has been fierce debate and confusion regarding the recent decision of Israel's civil administration to declare 988 acres of land in the West Bank Gush Etzion area as "state land." The decision, announced by the Israeli government on August 31, is reportedly the precursor for the expansion of the small Gva'ot settlement into a much larger town.

Almost immediately after making the pronouncement, the Israeli government came under fire from the US, the EU and the Palestinian Authority, with such condemnations reverberating throughout the international press. Yet, as Dr Tzvi Fleischer highlighted in an AIJAC blog post last week, much of the critique circulating in the press omits essential background information regarding where this land is and what this move actually means.

Hamas’ other terror tactic: intimidating foreign journalists

Hamas’ other terror tactic: intimidating foreign journalists Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas enters its third week, foreign journalists are increasingly flocking to the region, reporting from both Gaza and within Israel. In addition, more and more accounts of intimidation and abuse towards foreign journalists stationed in the Strip, both via social media as well as from Hamas operatives on the ground, are emerging.

In recent weeks several foreign journalists have released details of threats, intimidation and blackmail directed against them in the wake of their reporting on the reality as they see it in Gaza. Much of this abuse has stemmed from journalists' coverage of Hamas' tactic of firing rockets into Israel from civilian institutions or highly populated civilian areas. At the same time, reports relating to Hamas' use of Gaza's Shifa hospital - the largest and most important in the Gaza Strip - as a ‘hotbed' for storing weapons and launching rockets has also elicited intimidation from Hamas operatives in Gaza - as well as threats and abuse from pro-Palestinian advocates online.

Sensationalising 'settlement announcements'

Sensationalising 'settlement announcements' Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

In my blog post from June 2, I showed how construction in Israel's West Bank settlements had slowed, but that the media had failed to report it.

This month, two pieces of commentary by former Bush Administration deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams - who was the official in charge of monitoring Israel's settlement policies - reinforced some of the very same points I made.

AIR
Fatah Gloats: Kidnapping and Palestinian Discourse

Fatah Gloats: Kidnapping and Palestinian Discourse Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Immediately after reports emerged that three Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, had apparently been abducted last Friday, speculation began as to who was responsible, and where blame lay for this crime. There is one aspect though, in the background of this event, which also deserves our attention - the disturbing reaction of official outlets of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Fatah movement.

ABC breaks the silence on inanity

ABC breaks the silence on inanity Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

ABC Newsradio Drive host Tracey Holmes is an accomplished journalist with Middle East experience. As such, it was puzzling that she would use the controversial NGO Breaking the Silence - an organisation dealing exclusively with IDF conduct in the West Bank - as her source for a lengthy interview regarding Australian policy towards east Jerusalem, a territory both she and her subject should be well aware is covered by Israeli law and not subject to military administration.

Settlement housing starts slowing, yet media fails to report it

Settlement housing starts slowing, yet media fails to report it Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics released its quarterly statistics on housing starts on Thursday, a document which includes data on Israel's construction in its West Bank settlements. That report showed that construction is down 76.4 per cent from the same quarter in 2013.

The announcement marked the fourth straight quarter of decreases, and housing starts in the settlements are now at its second lowest point since Israel's unilateral construction freeze in 2010.

These facts have not been reported outside of Israel. Instead, foreign correspondents have unfailingly chosen to focus on alarmist reports issued by left-wing NGOs, especially Peace Now, over the same period which are based almost entirely on the misleading criteria of Israeli government "announcements" or the "promotion" of settlement plans to create an illusion that settlement growth was increasing. In fact, it demonstrably was not.

"How dare you talk to one another!" The ‘Anti-Normalisation’ campaign continues to obstruct reconciliation in the Middle East

"How dare you talk to one another!" The ‘Anti-Normalisation’ campaign continues to obstruct reconciliation in the Middle East Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

What if someone told you that Israelis and Palestinians weren't fighting each other, but were fighting together, for peace and reconciliation. There are NGOs and individuals based in Israel and the Palestinian territories doing just that; working together to promote dialogue, co-operation and ultimately peaceful co-existence.

Updates
 A reality check on "Breaking the Silence"

A reality check on "Breaking the Silence" Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, NGOs, Updates    

It is interesting to note that nearly all of the criticisms of "Breaking the Silence" (BTS) recently made by AIJAC and NGO Monitor were validated by a British journalist based on his own personal experiences with the group, and with no obvious agenda.

Jake Wallis Simons works as a feature writer for Britain's Telegraph newspaper, previously worked for the BBC, is a documentary filmaker and has also written three novels. He participated in tour with BTS while carrying out interviews and research for ‘Meet the Settlers', an in-depth Telegraph multimedia feature about Israeli settlements. In an article published in the UK Telegraph titled "Why are European powers (and Oxfam) funding a radical Israel Group?", Simons documents his experience with BTS.

On Israel, Amnesty shoots first, asks questions later

On Israel, Amnesty shoots first, asks questions later Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

On February 27, Amnesty International (AI) released a sensationalist report titled "Trigger Happy: Israel's use of excessive force in the West Bank".  This report, perhaps not surprisingly, is arguably biased against Israel. This is not because of the subject matter - it is certainly legitimate to examine the way the IDF uses force - but both in the way that it singles Israel out for intense scrutiny compared to other countries and because of the double standard AI has used against the IDF in determining what constitutes excessive force.

Scribblings: Building up "Resistance" Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians    

In the past, Hamas, as rulers of Gaza, have repeatedly reacted strongly to reports the UN agency UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), which runs almost half of the schools in Gaza, planned to teach students about the Holocaust as part of its "human rights" module. This was called a "crime against Palestinians" and even a "war crime" while the Holocaust was described as "a lie made up by the Zionists." (Indeed, even Palestinian teachers unaffiliated with Hamas working for UNRWA have said that they will never teach about the Holocaust.)

Asia Watch: Temple Bombed in Jakarta Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Asia, NGOs, United Nations    

Jakarta was rocked on August 4 by a bomb exploding at the Ekayana Buddhist Centre - injuring three people among the 300 who had gathered to hear a sermon. A note found at the scene stated: "We respond to the screams of the Rohingya", indicating the attack was in response to violence against Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar (Burma).

The Ekayana Buddhist Centre had been previously hailed as a symbol of Indonesia's tolerance towards ethnic Chinese Buddhists in Jakarta. However, the bombing has led to concern that the violence between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar may now be spreading to Indonesia.

TV Holiday Specials, Middle East-style

TV Holiday Specials, Middle East-style Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Egypt, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

When watching holiday specials on TV, even cold-hearted cynics often find it hard not to get swept away by the wholesome feel-good and uplifting messages about the importance of family and friends and the meaning of the "holiday spirit" - saccharine and sentimental as these messages might be. In recent years across the Arab and Muslim world, TV holiday specials have gained popularity, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

Unfortunately, the messages of some of these programs are less about the holiday spirit, and more about hateful incitement. The new series, "Khaybar", airing this year is a prime example. A "prime time" example, even.

Amnesty International focusing on the wrong protesters

Amnesty International focusing on the wrong protesters Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Amnesty International has it hands full in the Middle East at the best of times, and now it seems that they are busier still. Yet Amnesty still finds the time to deal with... the so-called "bullying and judicial harassment" faced by one Palestinian "rights activist", Nariman Tamimi. Yes, to Amnesty it seems that a Palestinian woman facing trial for entering a closed military zone during the weekly protests in Nabi Saleh is as much of a human rights violation and an injustice as the killing of protesters in Turkey and Egypt.

UNHRC's Richard Falk in hot water again - this time for using his official position to attack an NGO critical of him

UNHRC's Richard Falk in hot water again - this time for using his official position to attack an NGO critical of him Author: Jeni Willenzik Categories: Israel, NGOs, United Nations    

In the latest controversy at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk used an official UN report meant to highlight injustices in the Palestinian territories to condemn an NGO critical of him. In the report, Falk blamed UN Watch, an NGO founded to monitor the performance of the UN against its charter, for discrediting his arguments and issuing criticism to UN diplomats and officials.

Media Week - Moaning Mona

Media Week - Moaning Mona Author: Allon Lee Categories: Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Speaking to SBS Radio's Ron Sutton (June 5), Dr Mona El Farra, head of the health committee for the Red Crescent for Gaza Strip, blamed Israel and to a lesser extent, Egypt, for a litany of health problems in Gaza.

SBS's website noted that El Farra held a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and no doubt plied him with her propaganda.

Which is a pity, because she would do better to demand the world hold Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to account for their woeful and negligent governance...

Blood libel surfaces at Hanan Ashrawi's MIFTAH organisation

Blood libel surfaces at Hanan Ashrawi's MIFTAH organisation Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

The Jewish people recently celebrated the festival of Passover, which recounts the Jewish exodus from Egypt. In the Middle East, this festival often leads to new outbreaks of the ugly antisemitic lie of blood libel - the claim that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to make Passover Matzah.  This year a particularly concerning case of blood libel promotion occurred in an article by Jordanian writer Nawaf al-Zaru published on the Arabic website of MIFTAH, an NGO founded in 1998 by Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who still plays a senior role there.

Hamas' housing demolitions met with deafening silence

Hamas' housing demolitions met with deafening silence Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Europe, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Are NGOs imposing a double standard when it comes the demolition of Palestinian houses?

That is the question that Elliott Abrams asked Wednesday on his blog on the Council of Foreign Relations' website.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian news website Ma'an reported that Hamas was moving ahead with plans to demolish 75 homes belonging to the Abu Amrah clan in the al-Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza. The Hamas government claims the homes were built illegally. The family is protesting the move, and resisting relocation.

AIR
Essay: The Great Refugee Trap

Essay: The Great Refugee Trap Author: Nitza Nachmias Categories: NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations    

The twentieth century experienced some of the worst instances of population displacement in history: the 15 million ethnic Germans forced out of their homes in Eastern Europe after World War II; the millions of Muslims and Hindus fleeing the newly established states of India and Pakistan during the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947; the millions of Armenians, Greeks, Turks, Finns, Bulgarians, Jews, and Kurds, among others, driven from their lands and resettled elsewhere.

By contrast, the 600,000 Arabs who fled their homes in mandatory Palestine and the nascent state of Israel during the 1947-48 war have been kept in squalid camps for decades by their Arab hosts as a means of derogating Israel in the eyes of the West and arousing pan-Arab sentiments. And as if to add insult to injury, the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), established in December 1949 as a temporary means for relieving the plight of the newly-displaced refugees, has transformed into a permanent organisation that has substantially exacerbated the problem whose resolution it was supposed to facilitate.

Human rights NGOs, and their half-hearted, belated, and weasel-worded condemnations of rocket attacks

Human rights NGOs, and their half-hearted, belated, and weasel-worded condemnations of rocket attacks Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Human rights organisations are supposed to advance a universal approach, according to which every person in entitled to certain rights and liberties, based simply on his or her humanity. The most basic of these rights is the right to life. Yet time after time those very same organisations prove that some humans - those from groups they personally identify or sympathise with - have more rights than others. Most recently, this double-standard was evident in the response by various human rights organisations to the ongoing rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza on Israeli cities and towns. In between 'code red' sirens, you could almost hear the silence of human rights organisations.

UNRWA’s double standards in Syria

UNRWA’s double standards in Syria Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: NGOs, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Five UNRWA employees have been killed in the Syrian conflict and shells have hit and damaged both an UNRWA health centre and an UNRWA school. However, UNRWA has only issued weak statements deploring the deaths and calling for "all sides must refrain from conducting the conflict in civilian areas..." This significantly contrasts with the condemnations and calls for war-crimes investigations that occurred when an Israeli shell struck outside an UNRWA school during the 2009 Gaza conflict. Analysts Asaf Romirowsky and Alex Joffe explore UNRWA's obvious "double standards".

Updates
Australian anti-Israel activists must distance themselves from neo-Nazi sympathisers

Australian anti-Israel activists must distance themselves from neo-Nazi sympathisers Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Far Right, NGOs, Updates    

A group supported by a cross-section of Australia's anti-Israel movement has been revealed to be pedalling overt antisemitic propaganda.

On 1 October, Jewish Agency for Israel employee Avi Mayer stumbled across an alarming tweet by the Free Gaza Movement ('FGM'), the principal organisers of the infamous 'Free Gaza Flotilla' in 2010, and several other flotillas to Gaza. The tweet said 'Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews', and linked to...

Media Week - Sound off; Clear as mud

Media Week - Sound off; Clear as mud Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

ABC Radio National's "360documentaries" series (9/9) featured a 50-minute program from Australian anti-Zionist activist Peter Slezak with interviews he recorded on a recent trip to Gaza and the West Bank.

The program's producer was Cathy Peters - the Marrickville Councillor from the NSW Greens party who was instrumental in proposing the notorious BDS motion in 2010.

Despite this pedigree, ABC presenter Kirsti Melville meekly introduced Slezak as a "Jewish writer and commentator" without mentioning his activism.

The program itself is the equivalent of "the best of the worse of the anti-Israel" NGO and UN brigade featuring the usual array of one-sided claims. Neither Hamas nor any Palestinian violence was so much as mentioned.

Palestinian NGO muddies the waters with Dead Sea claims

Palestinian NGO muddies the waters with Dead Sea claims Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Anti-Zionism, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Mud-slinging allegations by the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq that Israel had committed "war crimes" by purportedly allowing the Israeli Dead Sea cosmetics company Ahava to "plunder" Dead Sea resources inside the West Bank became the focus of a controversial article by Fairfax's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard this week.

In the September 4 article "Cosmetics firm accused of plundering Dead Sea", Pollard regurgitated uncritically allegations from the Palestinian group that Ahava has been using materials in its products supposedly excavated from an undisclosed mining site in the jurisdiction of the Megilot Regional Council, where Ahava maintains a factory and outlet store.

"Breaking the Silence" - Creating headlines with the same old controversial material

"Breaking the Silence" - Creating headlines with the same old controversial material Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

An anthology of stories by former IDF soldiers regarding the treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza assembled by the controversial left-wing Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence has drawn the attention of Yediot Ahronot in Israel, the UK's Guardian and Independent, Iran's PressTV, as well as News Limited's John Lyons and Fairfax' Ruth Pollard here in the Australian press - but few other journalists worldwide.

This isn't really surprising, as there is evidently little new information contained in the report, which is essentially a repackaging of some 30 self-styled "testimonies" cherry picked from the organisation's 850-case archives (collected gradually over the past seven years) in an attempt to portray the IDF as systematic abusers of Palestinian children.

The blindness behind the NGO petition to end the Gaza blockade

The blindness behind the NGO petition to end the Gaza blockade Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Fifty international charities and UN agencies have made a joint media appeal to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Some of the charities that have signed the petition have Australian branches including: Amnesty International, Oxfam, Care International, War Child and HelpAge International.  The petition states:

"For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. We the undersigned say with one voice: 'end the blockade now'".

The petition appears to overlook a number of key issues which are discussed in this blog post.

Amnesty's response to atrocities in Syria: "International community must act"... with yet more empty words

Amnesty's response to atrocities in Syria: "International community must act"... with yet more empty words Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: NGOs, Syria, Updates    

After more than a year of brutal repression of anti-regime protest, the atrocities against civilians in Syria keep reaching new heights. Growing attention to the bloodshed and violence in that country by the international community and human rights organisations, even if tragically belated, could have been a hopeful sign that something might finally be done to put an end to the bloodshed. In reality, however, no such steps appear to be in sight.

"Personnel is Policy": Amnesty International and Israel

"Personnel is Policy": Amnesty International and Israel Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, NGOs, Updates    

It is no secret that Israel has been receiving "special" attention and treatment from several human rights organisations, which is expressed not only by the disproportional scope of research efforts dedicated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also in strong biases and double standards when it comes to evaluating claims about Israel and its policies.

Now, it has been revealed that a "giant" among international human rights NGOs, Amnesty International, apparently has 'personnel issues' - which may explain some of Amnesty's recent reports and statements on Israel, such as the controversial new report about administrative detention and Palestinian prisoners' hunger strikes called "Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel".

How about an award for hypocrisy?

How about an award for hypocrisy? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Hypocrisy frequently rears its ugly head in the Middle East, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) has just succeeded in producing something close to a new examplar on the issue of media freedom. As a Jerusalem Post editorial ("Palestinian responsibility", 2/4/2012) has documented, the Palestinian Authority is intensifying an ongoing crackdown on journalists operating in the West Bank, while at the same time it's introducing a new award honouring press freedom.

Media Week - Which lobby?, A wolf in wolf's clothing, Take a hike

Media Week - Which lobby?, A wolf in wolf's clothing, Take a hike Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

In its first story since December 2011 looking at Iran's nuclear program, ABC TV "7.30" (21/3) reporter Michael Brissenden described the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as "the most powerful Jewish lobby group in the United States". This may surprise the many non-Jews who attended AIPAC's recent annual conference, including pro-Israel Latinos, African-Americans and Christian delegates.

Is Human Rights Watch abandoning Women's Rights?

Is Human Rights Watch abandoning Women's Rights? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: NGOs, Updates    

The last sentence in Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth's introduction to the organisation's 2012 annual report, titled "Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights," reads: "It is a global responsibility to help see a positive conclusion to the Arab people's brave efforts to demand their rights, and to ensure that the toppling of one autocratic regime does not lead to its replacement by another." If one were to read the essay backwards, this could have been a very promising start. Unfortunately, reading the essay from beginning to end, it is hard to avoid a certain sense of cynicism and irony when reaching this concluding sentence. This is mainly because Roth's piece should have been titled "Time to Abandon Autocrats and Embrace Political Islamism".

World Vision involved in alleged terror links - again

World Vision involved in alleged terror links - again Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, NGOs, Terrorism, Updates    

As has been widely reported, there has been controversy over support by World Vision and AusAID for a Palestinian group with alleged links to a terrorist organisation. While the current complaint is now being investigated by World Vision, it is worth recalling that this is not the first time that World Vision has been accused of making a controversial funding decision in the Palestinian Authority areas.

In the latest complaint, the Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Centre) wrote letters to AusAID and World Vision requesting that they discontinue their support of the Palestinian aid organisation the Union of Agricultural Work Committee, which it alleges is a subsidiary of the terrorist organisation the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine...

AIR
Egypt and the NGOs

Egypt and the NGOs Categories: Egypt, NGOs, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on the crisis between Egypt and the US sparked by the Egyptian government's crackdown on pro-democracy NGOs in the country, and more importantly, what these events say about Egypt's potential for progress toward genuine liberal democracy.

Stephen McInerney, director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, discusses the politics of the NGO case in some depth and makes a strong case that the future of Egyptian civil society may be at stake. He details the clear disingenuousness of the claims against the NGOs, and the way Fayza Abul Naga, minister of planning and international cooperation, is clearly using the case - along with a strategy of brinksmanship - to promote her agenda, with at least the acquiescence of the ruling military council, SCAF...

Conspiracy Theories and the Arab Spring Categories: Egypt, Middle East, NGOs, Updates    

This Update focuses on the growing prevalence of conspiracy theories that seem to be coming out of countries affected by the Arab Spring, especially Egypt, and the possible consequences.

First up is Washington Institute scholar David Schenker, who looks at the background to the Egyptian decision to prosecute 16 US citizens who lead NGOs in Egypt for accepting foreign funding to promote democracy. This decision risks the loss of $1.3 billion in annual aid from the US which Egypt desperately needs in order to import food for its citizens, but Egyptians overwhelmingly want  this aid to end anyway...

When propaganda masquerades as fact

When propaganda masquerades as fact Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

To its great discredit, the Melbourne Age has republished a Guardian newspaper feature that alleges mistreatment by the Israeli judicial system of West Bank Palestinian youths detained on suspicion of terrorism.

As a previous AIJAC blog post revealed, many allegations of Palestinian children being tortured, kept in solitary confinement, denied legal representation, and forced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit, rely on half-truths, manipulation of facts and figures and unsubstantiated claims by anti-Israel organisations.

That is, organisations with anti-Israel political agendas that extend beyond the remit of the specific goals they profess to be concerned with and into areas of delegitimising the Jewish state.

International Parliamentary Union apologises for Hamas invitation

International Parliamentary Union apologises for Hamas invitation Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

According to a recent AP report, after facing criticism from Israeli Knesset members for hosting two Hamas MPs at its recent conference, the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) has reportedly apologised to Israel.

Israel objected because the militant group has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks over the years. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the EU. and U.S.

The union's secretary-general, Anders Johnsson...

Updates
Scribblings: Judaising Jerusalem?

Scribblings: Judaising Jerusalem? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians    

Both Palestinian groups and pro-Palestinian Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) often accuse Israel of seeking to "Judaise" Jerusalem. For instance, following their admission to the UN cultural organisation UNESCO in October, one of the things the Palestinian Authority said they wanted to do was sue Israel in international forums for supposedly "systematically destroying and forging Arab and Islamic culture in Jerusalem." Similarly, at a controversial rally in Cairo on November 25 at which there was also recitation of a hadith [saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad] about killing all Jews, Sheikh Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of al-Azhar University, proclaimed, "we shall not allow the Zionists to Judaise al-Quds (Jerusalem)."

Deconstruction Zone: NGO No-Go Areas? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, NGOs    

Watching the debate, both in Israel and elsewhere, surrounding the proposed new NGO (Non-Government Organisation) laws in the Knesset, it is hard not to be struck by the hyperbole being employed. Some Israelis, primarily from the political left, are railing about "threats to the very foundation of Israel's democracy" whereas others, mainly on the right, are decrying the "diplomatic warfare being waged by foreign governments against Israel". Looking past this rhetoric, however, the two proposed laws as discussed below are neither revolutionary nor unreasonable. In fact, they are in many ways following the example of other democratic countries, Australia included.

More UN DysfUNctionalism

More UN DysfUNctionalism Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Middle East, NGOs, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

In another example of UN dysfunctionality, Syria has been admitted as the Arab representative to UNESCO's human rights committee, just a day after a UN report criticised the country's massacre of 3,500 anti-government protesters.

The decision is even more bizarre in light of the Arab League suspension of Syria over the Assad regime's human rights' abuses.

EU Funding of Israeli NGOs: More than for all the rest of the Middle East

EU Funding of Israeli NGOs: More than for all the rest of the Middle East Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Europe, Israel, NGOs, Updates    

Following up on the post Tuesday concerning controversial Israeli proposals to limit or tax foreign government funding to "political' Non-Governmental Organisations in Israel, a Jerusalem Post editorial on the subject has an interesting fact that may help explain why some Israelis are so concerned about the issue:

...European governments spend more on left-wing NGOs operating in Israel - between $75 million and $100m. a year - than their total contributions to nonprofit human rights groups in other Middle East countries, according to NGO Monitor.

Is limiting foreign government funding of Israeli NGOs "undemocratic"?

Is limiting foreign government funding of Israeli NGOs "undemocratic"? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Europe, Israel, NGOs, Updates    

There has been some controversy in Israel over a proposal coming out of Israel's Ministerial Committee for Legislation which would limit or tax the ability of foreign governments or international bodies like the UN to fund Israeli NGOs...

American law professor David Bernstein has an excellent post challenging the idea that such a law (and it is by no means clear that such a law can get through the Knesset, Israel's parliament, or what its provisions would be if it did) would be undemocratic...

Goldstone assaults 'Apartheid Slander'

Goldstone assaults 'Apartheid Slander' Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

South African Judge Richard Goldstone has written an op-ed in this New York Times on 31 October condemning the false allegation that Israel is an ‘apartheid' state. He writes:

"The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony."

This is the same Goldstone who did a great deal of damage to Israel by lending his name to the biased UN fact-finding mission into the Gaza conflict in 2009 which condemned Israel for deliberately killing civilians and war crimes while all but ignoring the Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel.

Goldstone later recanted his support for the report after realising that much of the information relied upon in the ‘Goldstone Report' was not credible and biased. In an op-ed in the Washington Post in April this year he stated, "if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."

AIJAC UPDATE - The Principles and Principals of the Gilo Housing Project

AIJAC UPDATE - The Principles and Principals of the Gilo Housing Project Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Quartet, United Nations, Updates    

Today's Update looks at last week's controversial approval for a proposed plan to build 1,100 homes within the boundaries of the Jewish suburb of Gilo in Jerusalem. Gilo lies just over the Green Line and is now home to 40,000 Israelis. As Commentary's Jonathan Tobin explains, Gilo is a symbol for many Israelis, having been a target for numerous terrorist sniper shootings during the Second Intifada and "was the laboratory where Palestinian terrorists sought to discover whether they could force Jews into abandoning their homes. They failed".

The Last Word: Ten Years After

The Last Word: Ten Years After Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, NGOs, Terrorism    

It was late evening in Sydney.

Not many hours earlier, I had arrived home from South Africa, having participated in the World Conference Against Racism ("Durban I") and the NGO Forum which had preceded it.

The Jewish community in Sydney had asked me to provide a first hand account of the events, given the reports which they had heard of antisemitism, anti-Israel extremism, bullying and thuggery.

So I found myself giving what I had thought was a dry, unemotional recounting of the lows and highs of my previous two weeks.

The PA should listen to the silence

The PA should listen to the silence Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

If called upon to march on Israel's borders from the West Bank in the event a Palestinian state is unilaterally established on the 1967 borders come September; are Palestinians going to spoil their leaders' party by not providing the numbers?

But what do you do if you hold a rally and the main beneficiaries of the event won't show?

Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is worried because his own people are currently disinterested in attending anti-settlement protests.

Max Brenner protesters' peaceful claims are confected nonsense

Max Brenner protesters' peaceful claims are confected nonsense Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Contradicting local boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) supporters who claimed their actions in preventing customers entering a Max Brenner chocolate store in Melbourne last month were peaceful, a prominent supporter of the campaign has condemned their behaviour as "indefensible" and "pretty stupid".

In an interview with the Australian, the president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, Reverend Jim Barr, warned that heavy-handed tactics which resulted in 19 activists being arrested had backfired.

 

Weakened Hezbollah Shifts Blame Towards Israel

Weakened Hezbollah Shifts Blame Towards Israel Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: International Security, Lebanon, NGOs, Syria, Updates    

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the Second Lebanon war, fought between Israel and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. Since the conflict concluded, Hezbollah has been systematically consolidating power in Lebanon and amassing arms for the next round of violence. However, there has not been a shot fired from Southern Lebanon into Israel for which Hezbollah has taken credit. This is in stark contrast to the situation before the incursion, when Hezbollah would periodically fire rockets and mortars into Israeli territory in order to raise tensions.

To mark the anniversary, Israeli academics Abraham Bell and Gerald Steinberg have written a piece in Ynet about a study that they are conducting on different NGO responses to the 2006 conflict, which has some rather disconcerting findings...

AIR
UNRWA and Alternatives for Palestinian Refugees

UNRWA and Alternatives for Palestinian Refugees Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

The United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA) - set up in 1949 to look after the humanitarian needs of Palestinians - has long been the subject of controversy, with critics accusing it of deliberately perpetuating the refugee problem....

Now Israeli researcher Arlene Kushner has written, in the latest edition of Middle East Quarterly, a detailed compendium and deconstruction of many recent examples illustrating, in her words "The propensity for senior UNRWA staff to make inappropriate, incendiary, and highly politicized statements - in stark contrast to the organization's mandate."...

A new article at the Jerusalem Post offers an interesting example of what might be done if UNRWA's insistence that Palestinian refugees must never be resettled, but must stay in refugee camps until the conflict is over, could be bypassed.

 

Editorial: A Belated Recantation

Editorial: A Belated Recantation Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians    

Probably no document in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict has done more damage to the reputation of Israel, nor contributed more to the international campaign to boycott and delegitimise it, than the Goldstone Report. That is why Justice Goldstone's mea culpa in a Washington Post op-ed on 1 April was so breathtaking.

Richard Goldstone, chair of the commission which authored the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) Goldstone Report into the Gaza War of 2008-09, has now conceded that, regarding Israel, "if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."

In particular, he now agrees that the most inflammatory and absurd of the report's conclusions - that Israel deliberately targeted Palestinian civilians "as a matter of policy" - is baseless. He also concedes that Israeli authorities are reasonably investigating every specific allegation of misconduct by its soldiers during the Gaza war. Hamas, by contrast, he points out, has done "nothing."

Unfortunately, Justice Goldstone's change of heart cannot undo the massive, irreparable damage he and his co-commissioners originally inflicted through their report. This damage is not only to Israel's reputation but also to Middle East peace prospects, and to the very notion of a responsible and universal system of international law.

Updates

Durban Renewal Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, International Security, NGOs    

The United Nations' Review Conference for the 2001 "World Conference Against Racism" is shaping up to be as unworthy of its name as was its predecessor. The 2001 conference (Durban I) was hosted by South Africa in Durban and its legacy as a hate fest of antisemitism and anti-Israel thuggery has blighted the city's reputation.

A NGO Zone Author: Anne Bayefsky Categories: International Security, Israel, NGOs    

On Sunday, June 11, a boycott of Israeli academics, which had been adopted a few weeks earlier by the UK University and College Lecturers Union (NATFHE), was lifted after the move threatened to derail a merger plan with the larger UK Association of University Teachers.