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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘B’tselem’

Uri Ariel Cancels National Service Volunteers for Leftwing NGOs

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

It’s turning into a banner day for Bayit Yehudi in the Knesset as they take on the leftwing NGOs.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi), who is also in charge of Sherut Leumi (National Service), instructed the managing director of the Sherut Leumi Authority Sar-Shalom Gerbi to cancel all national service programs for NGOs who acted against IDF soldiers, according to a report in Srugim.

Ariel’s decision came in response to the UN’s Schabes anti-Israel report that relied on reports and testimony from dozens of leftwing NGOs.

Ariel explained that the whole point of National Service is to serve the state of Israel and its citizens. He explained he will not allow a situation where Israel finances programs that act against Israel’s own soldiers.

The Schabes report exposed a list of organizations that gave testimony to the Schabes committee and are quoted and relied on at length.

B’tselem is quoted 72 times, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel is quoted 4 times. Both currently receive National Service volunteers.

Gerbi cancelled the National Service for B’tselem a year ago, but Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber reinstated it.

Gerbi had canceled their National Service volunteers after the director general of B’tselem reportedly would not define Hamas as a terror organization and for what Gerbi described as their conduct during Operation Protective Edge.

But now that the Ministy of Justice is also under Bayit Yehudi control, this time the cancellation just might stick.

Proposed Bill to Scrutinize Foreign-Funded NGOs

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

By Ben Niran

MK Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) has proposed a bill to increase government monitoring of NGOs that receive funding from foreign governments.

The purpose of the so-called “NGO bill” is to clamp down on what Smotrich sees as illicit foreign intervention into Israel’s domestic policies under the guise of support for civilian organizations.

“We have a situation in which foreign countries are financing agents within Israel,” Smotrich’s spokesman told Tazpit News Agency. “It is important that citizens be informed of this phenomenon.”

In a statement quoted in the Israeli press, Smotrich used similarly strong language, describing what he referred to the “erosion of the Jewish character of the State of Israel” by foreign countries masquerading as civilian groups.

“All we are demanding is transparency,” Smotrich’s spokesman continued. “As a Knesset member, when a lobbyist comes up to speak to you, you want to know who you are dealing with, irrespective of their political outlook,” he said, referring to a section of the bill that requires members of relevant NGOs to wear ID tags when meeting with government representatives.

“It is perfectly legitimate to receive funding from abroad,” he explained. “The problem is when the money comes from a foreign government. In such cases, the NGO – whose function is to mediate between the government and the public – intrudes into the sphere of relations between governments, allowing foreign countries to influence Israel’s domestic affairs through indirect channels,” he said.

The bill obligates NGOs to specify the name of the country from which they receive funding on any document they submit to the government.

Representatives from B’tselem and Combatants for Peace, two prominent NGOs likely to be affected should the bill become law, declined to comment on the proposed regulations.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also from the Jewish Home party, is expected to bring the bill before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the coming days.

Israel to Allow 1,500 Jordanians to Work in Eilat

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

Israel and Jordan have agreed to a plan for 1,500 Jordanians to partially replace foreign workers from Asia and Europe to work in Eilat.

The agreement was signed on Friday, Israeli Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency. Until now, Jordanians with permits to work in Israel have been excluded from Eilat.

More permits also have been given e to Palestinian Authority workers to be employed in Israel. This would seem to be good news for the economy in the Ramallah-based regime, but leave it to the left-wing B’Tselem to find a cloudy lining in a silver cloud.

The organization claims that tens of thousands of Arabs from Judea and Samaria are “forced” to seek a living by working in Israel because the Zionist’ occupation stifles the economy, Ma’an reported.

Wages paid by Israeli firms are far higher than those paid by Arab employers.

Behind Breaking the Silence: Foreign Funding, Bounty Hunting, and Hypocrisy

Monday, May 11th, 2015

On May 4 the organization which has given itself the courageous moniker of “Breaking the Silence” issued a harshly critical report about the IDF’s performance in last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. It claimed indiscriminate shooting by Israeli soldiers caused the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian Arab civilians.

In the days following, that report has itself been criticized, debunked, dismantled and discredited. It’s worth understanding why.

The name of the organization issuing the scathing report, “Breaking the Silence,” suggests no one else has been willing to criticize the IDF. In reality, of course, that is the primary global discourse about the IDF.

And it is not as if IDF soldiers are uncritical of their experiences. But most of that criticism is internally directed, with the goal of actually improving conditions and procedures. BtS’s effort, in contrast, is a public relations exercise in demonizing Israel and its military apparatus.

The international media pounced on what was promoted by BtS as scorching criticism based on more than 60 interviews with unnamed active duty and reserve IDF personnel who participated in last summer’s OPE. (Anonymity of critics is a hallmark of Breaking the Silence’s many reports.)

A report based on testimony from Israeli soldiers who directly participated in the conflict would appear to be unimpeachable.

Except this one is and has been impressively impeached in a series of reports and public comments by a wide range of critics. Those reports have not received the extensive publicity the Israel-bashing original report has.

And why should anyone doubt the veracity of this report?

Well, for one thing, Breaking the Silence has been subject to intense criticism for years, including from such venerable bastions of Israel criticism as Haaretz, Israel’s flagship far leftist media outlet. In 2009, a Haaretz writer said of Breaking the Silence, it “has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classified as a human rights organization.”

Other critics include former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold, former Associated Press reporter Matti Friedman, the well-respected non-governmental watchdog group NGO Monitor and Im Tirzu, a staunchly Zionist Israeli organization.

The various critics offered substantive and persuasive reasoning for rejecting the claims contained in BtS’s latest report.

FOREIGN FUNDING AND BOUNTY HUNTING

First, the funding of Breaking the Silence suggests it has a clear political bias. Despite its claims, including one during a BBC interview, that its organization “are not subcontractors to anybody,” BtS is highly subsidized by foreign entities and governments. That in itself may not be problematic. But bounty hunting, where funding will only be provided if a set level of “scalps” are supplied, reaps malevolently skewed results.

And contrary to BtS’s claim that “the contents and opinions in this booklet do not express the position of the funders,” NGO Monitor research revealed that a number of funders made their grants conditional on the NGO obtaining a minimum number of negative “testimonies.”

Got that? We call that bounty hunting.

“This contradicts BtS’ declarations and thus turns it into an organization that represents its foreign donors’ interest, severely damaging the NGO’s reliability and its ability to analyze complicated combat situations,” observed NGO Monitor’s analysts.

Gerald Steinberg, the executive director of NGO Monitor, told the JewishPress.com that while “the leaders of Breaking the Silence claim to promote Jewish values, they are impostors.”

“From Biblical texts through modern times, Judaism has emphasized political realism and not pacifist myths. Abraham had to show that he had the power to defend his interests, and the same is true for Jacob, and so on. In addition to this distortion, [the authors of the report] are self-promoting messianists who immorally promote themselves through money given by church groups and foreign governments which seek to deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereign equality.”

Israeli AG: Anti-Israel NGO Can Utilize National Service Volunteers

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

B’tselem, funded largely by leftist European organizations and governments and the far left New Israel Fund, was created in 1989 by Israeli leftist academics, journalist and politicians from Meretz and Labor. It’s stated goal is to “to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories and ensure that its government, which rules the Occupied Territories, protects the human rights of residents there and complies with its obligations under international law.”

In other words, in deed and in intent, B’tselem seeks to shame the Israeli government and public into ignoring the self-defense of the Jewish State.

According to the well-respected NGO-Monitor’s entry on B’tselem, the NGO “has faced serious criticism for its misrepresentations of international law, inaccurate research and skewed statistics,” and that it “accuses Israel of apartheid, perpetrating war crimes, beating and abusing Palestinians, demolition of Palestinian Arab houses as punishment and forced deportations.”

Sar-Shalom Jerbi, the director of Israel’s National Civilian Service Administration, informed B’tselem in mid-August that it could no longer avail itself of free labor in the form of Israelis who choose national service instead of enlisting in the Israel Defense Force. The reason he gave was the refusal by B’tselem to designate Hamas a terrorist organization and its activities denigrating the Israel Defense Force, especially during Operation Protective Edge.

One of the activities B’tselem engaged in during the summer of 2014 followed the kidnapping of the three teenage Israeli boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel. The far leftist NGO initiated a slick media campaign dubbed “Hitching a Ride,” which ridiculed Israel’s efforts to find the three boys who were abducted from a hitchhiking post near Allon Shvut, south of Jerusalem.

B’tselem’s campaign accused Israel of “cynically exploiting the deep concern for the abducted teens,” and using it to “implement sweeping actions which intensify harm to the human rights of Palestinians.”

Jerbi informed B’tselem that the NGO is a party to the international smear campaign against the IDF, which includes “gross incitement” against what he called the “most ethical military in the world,” and stripped the NGO of its certification as an “operating organization” for the NCSA.

According to the NCSA director, B’tselem’s incitement gives fodder and encouragement to Israel’s enemies throughout the world and also contributes to the rising tide of anti-Semitic attack against Jews.

That decision was appealed by B’tselem and on Tuesday, Sept. 30, Israel’s Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber rescinded Jerbi’s decision and reinstated B’tselem in the national service registry, according to Haaretz.

Zilber stated that Jerbi had failed to sufficiently prove that B’tselem “rejects Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, incites to violence, terror or racism, or supports terrorism or armed struggle against Israel.” Those are the only grounds for delisting an organization of the right to receive national service volunteers.

The assistant attorney general also expressed concern that Jerbi’s action could open the door to politicization of the National Civilian Service Administration, which could then “use its authority to deny recognition only to certain groups, thereby imposing an economic and public price tag on them, only because of statements that are controversial on one side of the political spectrum.”

The director of the NCSA said he would honor Zilber’s decision. Concurrent with following this directive, Jerbi said he plans to explore other ways “to prevent the absurd situation in which the State of Israel,” via its provision of national service volunteers, “continues financing an organization that accused Israel Defense Forces soldiers and the State of Israel of committing war crimes during Operation Protective Edge and libeled it around the world.”

NGO Monitor: B’Tselem’s Immoral Exploitation of the Kidnapping

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

On June 22, 2014, B’Tselem initiated a campaign in response to Israel’s military operation to locate the three kidnapped teenagers and weaken the Palestinian terror infrastructure in the West Bank. In it, B’Tselem accuses Israel of “cynically exploiting the deep concern for the abducted teens” to “implement sweeping actions which intensify harm to the human rights of Palestinians.”

The title of the campaign,”Hitching a ride,” is itself an immoral and cynical exploitation of the circumstances of the kidnapping, which apparently occurred while the teens were hitchhiking.  B’Tselem also created a poster to accompany the campaign, featuring pictures of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon – reflecting the NGO’s partisan, political agenda.

B’Tselem’s donors include the European UnionNorway, DenmarkSweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UKChristian AidTrocaireDiakonia, and the New Israel Fund.  These funders share responsibility for enabling this immoral campaign.

In addition to its own campaign, B’Tselem joined 10 other Israeli political advocacy NGOs in a public letter falsely accusing Israel of “unnecessary violation of basic rights and collective punishment.”

The campaign has been met with strong criticism in Israeli mainstream and social media for B’Tselem’s profound insensitivity to the victims’ families, its refusal to recognize the inherent legitimacy and legality of Israel’s military operation and tactics, and its apparent disregard for Israeli public opinion.

Political advocacy NGOs often deliver unpopular messages to governments and the public at large. However, rarely do they do so in the most offensive way possible, with posters and slogans that more closely resemble political attack ads than human rights campaigns. Given B’Tselem’s politicized claims and campaigns, which do not adhere to universal human rights principles, it is no surprise the Israeli public questions B’Tselem’s credibility.

New Israel Fund Tries to Explain its Way Around BDS Ban

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

New Israel Fund (NIF) executive vice president Rabbi David Rosenn took disingenuousness to new heights during a talk held Wednesday evening, June 18, at the Jewish Center of Princeton, when he told the audience he refrained from using the term “occupied” territory to avoid “the hot button.”

In fact, Rosenn admitted that areas beyond the ‘green (1949 Armistice) line’—or Judea and Samaria, more accurate Biblical references he refused to use—are not considered Israel proper by him or NIF and therefore the NIF does not sponsor organizations which operate or are headquartered there. Yet NIF continues to be one of the largest funders of B’Tselem—the Israeli Information Center of the Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Either Rosenn missed B’Tselem’s actual name (it includes ‘in the Occupied Territories’) or he simply omitted the distinction between Jewish organizations in the territories – which they don’t fund – and non- or even anti-Jewish organizations, which they do fund.

B’Tselem is also the organization responsible for giving Arab Palestinians video cameras to record IDF responses (but only the IDF responses) to disrespectful and sometimes violent instigation. The number of recorded alleged IDF ‘violations’ dropped dramatically once the IDF armed soldiers with cameras to capture entire (rather than partial) incidents.

Despite a polite, restrained albeit particularly well informed line of questioning—this is Princeton, after all—Rosenn resorted to semantics, suggesting a distinction exists between organizations supporting the international Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel (BDS) movement—a clear violation of NIF’s stated policy—and organizations located in Israel calling for the boycott of “Settlement” products.

Really? After fielding several questions to clarify the NIF position, Rosenn, who had earlier claimed that the NIF needed to be “vigilant” in deciding which organizations to fund, attempted to dismiss concerns saying “if [NIF] focused on BDS, we wouldn’t be able to realize our mission.”

Perhaps it would surprise Rabbi Rosenn to know that NIF-grantee Adalah provides legal representation for several Arab organizations that promote BDS in Europe as well as in Israel. Perhaps not.

The NIF is also a “proud sponsor” of Breaking the Silence (BtS), an organization of former IDF soldiers apparently so damaged by the effects of war that they were unable to go through chain-of-command to report abuses and IDF policy violations, but found themselves more than capable of confiding in the UN commission that produced the fraudulent and now-debunked Goldstone Report.

Even HaAretz, Israel’s widely read left leaning daily, discredited the group in 2009 citing the BtS agenda as “purely political.”  How a political agenda, particularly one based on fictional events, “supports issues that are in the public good”—the primary definition of an NGO—is anyone’s guess.

There’s no doubt that some NIF grantees are doing respectable, perhaps even good work.  The problem is NIF is funded from outside of Israel and some of the sources are sketchy at best.  This concern precipitated new legislation in Israel that has forced the NIF to be more diligent in adhering to its own guidelines.  Even so, the relationship between NIF and the historically anti-Semitic Ford Foundation drew the attention of investigative reporter Edwin Black who follows NIF money in “Financing the Flames.”

How NIF funding decisions are made remained elusive, with Rosenn saying only that a professional grant department was responsible.

The biggest surprise of the night came when Rosenn asserted that all criticism of the NIF emanated from reports in NGO Monitor, a respected watchdog group that was instrumental in bringing the NIF funding to the Israeli public, and from JCC Watch founder Richard Allen. Allen’s gripe, according to Rosenn, with NYC Federation’s John Ruskay is what led to his attacks on the NIF.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/new-israel-fund-tries-to-explain-its-way-around-bds-ban/2014/06/19/

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