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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘NGO Monitor’

NGO Monitor Responds to AP Ban on NGO Monitor and Professor Steinberg

Monday, December 1st, 2014

The following statement was released by NGO Monitor in response to the report by Matti Friedman that AP censored and banned NGO Monitor:

In a November 30 article published in The Atlantic (What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel), former AP journalist Matti Friedman states that, during his time at the AP Jerusalem bureau, reporters had explicit orders “to never quote [NGO Monitor] or its director… Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.”

“Matti Friedman’s revelations regarding the efforts to censor NGO Monitor and me as its president are not entirely surprising,” said Professor Gerald Steinberg, president and founder of NGO Monitor. “Based on our experience in publishing detailed research on over 150 NGOs claiming to promote human rights and humanitarian objectives, we are aware of the intense efforts to maintain the NGO ‘halo effect’ and prevent critical debate. While the AP censorship was explicit, we have experienced similar silencing from other media platforms.”

Friedman also highlights the “ethical gray zone of ties between reporters and NGOs” in Israel, where journalists socializing in the same circles as NGO officials, seek employment with NGOs, and adapt to a journalistic culture in which NGOs “are to be quoted, not covered.”

This absence of critical analysis of political NGOs reinforces their biases and the lack of professional methodology. Friedman rightly criticizes, “one of the strangest aspects of coverage…namely, that while international organizations are among the most powerful actors in the Israel story, they are almost never reported on.”

Professor Steinberg continued: “When NGO Monitor was founded following the 2001 NGO Forum of the UN Durban conference, our primary objective was to open debate and provide accountability where none existed, develop systematic checks and balances, and ‘speak truth to NGO power.’ The importance of this mission has grown since then, as has the political influence of NGOs, as well as their funding and media impact, particularly in the Israeli context.”

AP Banned Interviews with Non-Anti-Israel Professor

Monday, December 1st, 2014

In a wide-ranging piece that covers mostly old ground in a new way and for a new audience, former Associated Press journalist Matti Friedman reveals one astonishing fact: the AP banned interviews of a well-informed, Jerusalem-based professor, Gerald Steinberg, and his monitoring organization, NGO-Monitor.

Professor Gerald Steinberg and his organization NGO-Monitor – work to expose the ideological bias and political agendas of the anti-Israel NGOs in Israel and the role they play in the conflict – the same anti-Israel NGOs that international reporters rely on for their news reporting.

From the NGO-Monitor website:

NGO Monitor’s objective is to end the practice used by certain self-declared ‘humanitarian NGOs’ of exploiting the label ‘universal human rights values’ to promote politically and ideologically motivated agendas.

Steinberg and NGO-Monitor are the only ones in a region crawling with confirmed liars and terrorists whose views were verboten to the AP, Friedman wrote.

The gist of Friedman’s new piece in The Atlantic is that news about Israel is largely written through a specific, largely unstated but nearly inviolable prism of “blame Israel” and ignore Arab wrongdoing.

The Arab Israeli reporter Khaled abu Toameh has been writing and speaking about the problem for at least a decade. It was also the subject of Stephanie Gutmann’s The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy (Encounter, 2005).

But Friedman’s Nov. 30 article is important both because it was written by someone from within the mainstream media – it doesn’t get much more mainstream than the Associated Press – and because of the startling revelation regarding the absolute ban on AP reporting including information from or about either Gerald Steinberg or the organization he heads, NGO-Monitor.

Friedman covered the 2008-09 winter conflict in Gaza dubbed “Operation Cast Lead.”  He was struck by the fact that articles condemning Israeli in the harshest terms continued to circulate months after the conflict, and based upon statements made by human rights organizations. He wrote an article about that point, but AP editors killed it.

At the time, NGO-Monitor was seeking to counter information provided by what it presented as false claims that Israel had committed “war crimes.” Friedman was unable to make use of NGO-Monitor’s information. Why? He writes:

the bureau’s explicit orders to reporters were to never quote the group or its director, an American-born professor named Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.

Steinberg is a professor of political science at Israel’s Bar Ilan University. Educated at Cornell University, UCBerkeley and MIT, Steinberg is the founder and president of NGO-Monitor. He is the author of numerous books and dozens of other publications.

The AP is the feeder for much of the world’s media about so much that happens across the globe. This is so because AP has a phalanx of reporters in 280 locations worldwide. It operates as the news distributor of the articles written by their reporters. Those articles are then run by media sites – up to 1,400 U.S. daily newspapers – which don’t have their own reporters in those regions.

If, as Friedman charges based upon first hand observation, AP story lines are predetermined and “news” articles are created around its central, agreed-upon premise, then virtually all news about every flash point across the globe becomes suspect. It also means that the AP, at least in its Jerusalem bureau, violated its own “AP News Values and Principles.”

The AP needs to answer the specific charge of whether its Jerusalem bureau staff was barred from speaking with NGO-Monitor’s Steinberg. If such a ban was in place and unless the AP can produce a reasonable explanation, then all media outlets which continue to rely on AP services come under its same dark cloud of suspicion.

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.”

The Faux Investigations Of Human Rights Watch

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

On July 21, Ken Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), sarcastically tweeted, “People accept @HRW reporting as fair & accurate around globe but when it comes to poor, helpless, defenseless #Israel we’re suddenly biased.”

Now, the first half of Roth’s statement is specious. HRW is roundly and widely criticized across the globe for its politicized approach and false reporting.

But the more important question relates to the second part of Roth’s antagonistic and unprofessional Twitter rant: Why is Roth so worried about HRW’s work on Israel?

One place to start is the pattern of false accusations and invented or totally distorted legal language, which NGO Monitor and others have identified in HRW’s reports on Israel’s actions in Gaza (2012 and 2008-9), Lebanon (2006), and Jenin (2002).

As opposed to rigor and expertise, HRW “investigations” reflect anti-Israel bias, lack of research methodology, and flat-out fabrications.

For instance, during Israel’s November 2012 response to Gaza rocket attacks, an 11 month-old-baby was tragically killed. Citing “news reports and witnesses,” HRW immediately blamed Israel for the child’s death. HRW’s “investigation” was revealed to be faulty when a detailed UN analysis confirmed that, in fact, the death was caused by “a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” By the time the truth came out, though, HRW’s damage was already done.

More egregious were HRW’s reports during the 2006 Lebanon War, with numerous false claims attributed to “eyewitnesses” from territory fully controlled by Hizbullah. After an attack in Qana, HRW claimed a number of casualties that were nearly double the on-site figure provided by the Red Cross. Similarly, in the town of Srifa, HRW claimed no less than 42 civilians died in an Israeli attack. After more than a year of promoting this false accusation, HRW finally admitted that 22 people died – and of these, 17 were armed combatants.

Going back a decade, HRW was instrumental in initiating and perpetuating the Jenin massacre myth in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield (2002). HRW published an “investigative report” titled “Jenin: IDF Military Operations,” based primarily on unverifiable “eyewitness testimony” from Palestinians.

The report consisted of false charges that “IDF military attacks were indiscriminate… failing to make a distinction between combatants and civilians… and vastly disproportionate.” That Palestinians had located a terror center in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood – a clear violation of moral and legal standards – was ignored.

In each instance, HRW’s “reports” lack professional standards and research methodologies, and show a deep-seated ideological bias against Israel. HRW possesses neither the military expertise to conduct proper investigations that would lead to their conclusions. The faux-research is then repeated without question in the international media. And every time the allegations are repeated, new rounds of anti-Israel headlines and condemnations are triggered.

The same has already occurred during the current fighting.

On July 16, HRW presented the findings of its “investigation” into four Israeli air strikes in Gaza. In a statement, HRW alleges that Israel “either did not attack a legitimate military target or attacked despite the likelihood of civilian casualties being disproportionate to the military gain.” According to HRW, “such attacks committed deliberately or recklessly constitute war crimes.”

However, when reading the statement it becomes clear that the “investigations” consist of conversations with people in Hamas-controlled Gaza who may or may not have witnessed the event, as well as recycled media accounts. HRW attempts to create a façade of expertise, writing that it “could not determine the weapons used in [one] attack,” as if its assessments would be in any way meaningful.

Furthermore, establishing whether or not the IDF targeted legitimate military objectives and used proportional force would require knowledge of intelligence possessed by Israeli commanders at the time of the strikes, and information about the officer’s intent. Since HRW cannot and does not possess this information, its “evidence” consists solely of ignorance and Israel’s refusal to explain its operational decisions. Since HRW “found no evidence that any of the victims was a member of an armed group or that there was a military objective in the area,” then it must be so.

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.

Why are Feminists Not Standing Up for Israel?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

T.S. Eliot was wrong. March, not April, is the cruelest month. Certainly it is at New York University.  In the early days of the month a conference took place there on “Circuits of Influence: United State, Israel, and Palestine.”  The conference was organized by Lisa Duggan, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, whose academic fields at NYU are listed as lesbian and gay studies, and the history of gender and sexuality.

Professor Duggan is a gender scholar rather than a political scientist renowned for expertise in Middle East history and politics. She is presently president-elect of the American Studies Association (ASA) that on December 4, 2013 disgraced itself and the academic world by its ignorance, its bias, and its bigotry in calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The resolution of the ASA, by 66 per cent of voters, endorsed the Palestinian call for a boycott because of alleged denial of Palestinian basic rights by Israel. The resolution said nothing about the denial of women’s basic rights by Palestinians and other Arabs.

Professor Duggan’s invitation to the conference was ironic. It was sent only to selected recipients, and said, “Please do not post or circulate the flyer (about the conference). We are trying to avoid press, protestors, and publication.” It was ironic because the conference avoided confrontation by inviting only those who were not known for their pro-Israeli views.

The NYU meeting was not exactly secret, but it was a closed-door conference. To no great surprise, it coincided with the celebration of Israel Apartheid Week. It may perhaps have been described as a meeting discussing the Protocols of the Learned Leaders of the boycotters or the New York friends of the ASA.
It is not clear, though one can guess the reasons, why leaders of an association created to deal with American studies, and especially if they are most interested in women’s issues, make declarations on Middle Eastern affairs or why they are primarily or solely concerned with the State of Israel. One would have thought that Professor Duggan and other members of the ASA might be more properly concerned with the problems that women encounter in Arab Middle East societies, including that of Palestinian.

The nature of those problems is detailed in reports of NGO Monitor and various think tanks. Women in all the Middle East countries, except Israel, have few rights, and do not enjoy equality with men. The gender gap in those countries is among the highest in the world. Women are discriminated against in almost all relationships and activities, in marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance. They are restricted in movement, expression, and work opportunities. Women suffer from being forced into child marriage, female genital mutilation, and “honor” crimes, which may be punished by death.

Professor Duggan and her ASA colleagues must know that there has been no significant improvement in women’s lives in spite of the “Arab spring.” In most Arab countries women are marginalized; in Islamic societies they are repressed. She should know that the lack of freedom for women in all Middle East countries, except Israel, is a major problem in the world today. Have she and her colleagues in the ASA, reported on this? Are they so concerned with their ideological attack on Israel that they have no time or thought for the political and social freedom of women? Even though they are supposedly interested in American studies, why do the members of ASA not state clearly and unequivocally that women in the Arab world including the Palestinians should enjoy the same rights and opportunities as women in Israel?

Let’s deliver a clear message from the 1993 UN Vienna Declaration to Duggan and the ignorant and biased boycotters of Israel.  The Declaration called for the full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life, at all levels, and eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex.

It may well be, as the UN Arab Human Development report of 2005 said, that it is beyond the power and resources of women’s movements to affect the condition of women in the Middle East. But perhaps Duggan, with the support of other women in the ASA, might have organized a conference on the subject. She might have addressed the problem of why the 2011 departure of dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya has not led to fundamental reforms for women.

The UN Arab Human Development Reports (AHDR), written by Arab scholars about conditions in the 22 member states of the Arab League, have recognized the major problem: the oppression of women. Women suffer from inequality with men and are vulnerable to discrimination in law and in practice.  The prevailing masculine culture and values view women as dependents of men.  Those AHDR reports clearly state the need for change: Arab societies must provide for the complete empowerment of Arab women. Specifically, they should deal with illiteracy (more than half of Arab women are illiterate), the low rate of education of women, maternal mortality, and the low participation of women in politics.

The statistics in the Global Gender Gap Index, compiled by the World Economic Forum, which measures gender-based disparities, confirms the AHDR conclusions. Of the 136 countries analyzed in terms of the access of women to education, political participation, economic opportunity, and health, the Arab countries come last. Political empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia and Qatar is listed as zero.

Gender-based discrimination exists in personal status laws which require permission of a male relative for marriage, favor husbands in divorce cases, give fathers the rights in child guardianship, restrict freedom of movement, make it difficult for women to get a passport, and deprive women of their proper inheritance. In the law courts the testimony of women is regarded as of less value than that of men in a number of countries. Dress codes for women are enforced by the religious police force.

Beyond all this legal and social inequality there is the matter of domestic violence against women. Rape is usually not seen as a criminal offense. Honor killings exist in many of the Arab societies, including that of the Palestinian Authority. It is legal for women to be beheaded, burnt alive, stoned, and tortured for “immoral” behavior such as adultery or having sexual relations with a non-Muslim man. They are also forbidden to marry non-Muslims. On the other hand, polygamy is legal in a number of Arab countries.

Given her scholarship on the history of sexuality, Professor Duggan must surely be familiar with the sad condition of women in all Middle East countries except Israel, where women have full social and political rights. Can we expect her as the leader of ASA, to organize a conference on that sad condition and to call for equality and justice for women in the Arab countries?  If not, she may be judged guilty of indifference to the problems of women.
Originally published at The American Thinker.

Dead Gaza BDS Advocate Sought Israeli Medical Care

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Eyad El Sarraj, a prominent psychiatrist in the Gaza Strip, died on Wednesday, Dec. 18. El Sarraj was 70 years old. He died of complications from Leukemia.

Throughout his professional life, Sarraj was a fierce proponent of resistance to the “Israeli Occupation” and vigorously promoted boycotts of Israel. But when his health failed, Sarraj sought medical care in Israel. He died at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where he had been receiving treatment for more than a month.

In 1990, Sarraj founded the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, which is headquartered in the Rimal district of Gaza. El Sarraj was the medical director of GCMHP until his death.

“He is considered the father of mental health and the pioneer of mental health in Palestine. Our commitment to Dr. Sarraj is to continue his message and his struggle for respect of human rights,”  said Husam El-Nounou, the administrative chief at GCMHP.

Arab media and others hailed Sarraj as a human rights defender and a promoter of peace between Israel and “Palestine.”

Actually, Sarraj was a major promoter, supporter, advocate and cheerleader for the form of economic warfare against Israel known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

He and members of his staff were promoters of vindictive bald-faced lies about Israel.

According to the highly-respected oversight group NGO Monitor, Sarraj and his GCMHP

used unsubstantiated medical claims as an avenue to criticize the Israeli government, including allegations that the Jewish state engages in “systematic state organized violence,” “collective punishment” “massacres,” “war crimes,” and a system of “apartheid” against the Palestinian people.

El Sarraj’s Mental Health Center hosted numerous anti-Israel tracts on its website. The site itself is a bizarre conglomeration that NGO Monitor calls a “politicized medical NGO.”

In one such tract, “War Crimes and Tragedy: The Occupation of Palestine,” the author claims: “We can no longer remain silent nor turn our backs and pretend ignorance to a gruesome occupation of stolen land, the cruelest collective punishment in the open-air sewer prison where Palestinians once lived in peace. The situation has deteriorated as we observe Jewish settlers who spew their hate with such revulsion and racism on Palestinian families, it makes my stomach turn.”

One of Sarraj’s GCMHP doctors provided expert testimony to the infamous Goldstone panel in 2009. Dr. Ahmed Abu-Tawahini  offered what he called “professional insight” into the reason why Israeli soldiers “shoot children in front of their parents.” The doctor claimed such an action – as if it ever happened – can only be explained by “the psychological instability” and desire of the Israeli soldier to “restore his lost image.”

El Sarraj was on the board of advisers of the “Free Gaza Movement.” Those are the people across the globe who organize flotillas to try and break the legal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident in which a boat of internationals attempted to pierce the blockade and during which Israeli soldiers were attacked with lead pipes and other weapons, Sarraj signed a public statement which demonized the Israeli soldiers and lionized the thugs aboard the boat.

We insist on severance of diplomatic ties with Israel, trials for war crimes and the International protection of the civilians of Gaza. We call on you to join the growing international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign of a country proving again to be so violent and yet so unchallenged.

And yet, just three years later, when Sarraj was dying from leukemia, he violated the principles he had espoused so strongly when he was strong and healthy.  He went to seek the best medical care he could find.  He went to Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/gaza-bds-advocate-dead-sought-israeli-medical-care-at-the-end/2013/12/19/

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