B’Tselem is a human rights NGO whose mission is “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”, as per the organization’s website.
Atef Abu Al-Rub, a field researcher at B’Tselem, made headlines in Israel when an Israeli journalist released video evidence of Al-Rub denying the Holocaust took place. The Israeli journalist, Tuvia Tenenbom interviewed Al-Rub as part of his research for his new book, “Catch the Jew”.
At first, B’Tselem responded to Tanenbom’s account, claiming that it was not an accurate summation of the facts, and that Al-Rub “categorically denies the accusations and states that it is a falsehood and a misrepresentation of the interaction, designed to damage B’Tselem”.
However, on Sunday, October 5, B’Tselem released a statement on their Hebrew Facebook page, acknowledging that the video clearly shows Al-Rub denying the Holocaust ever happened.
“B’Tselem is careful in maintaining the reliability and accuracy of its work and publications. Therefore, we promise to hold inquiry as soon as possible into the incident and we will publish the decision as soon as it is made,” according to the B’Tselem statement.
What this inquiry will consist of, and Al-Rub’s position in the organization in the meantime, was not explained in the statement.
According to B’Tselem’s spokesperson, Al-Rub’s official position at B’Tselem is “field researcher”; when asked to delineate what a field researcher’s typical responsibilities are, the spokesperson referred Tazpit News Agency to the B’Tselem website. Al-Rub remains listed on B’Tselem’s website as part of the field research department.
Al-Rub’s work has been used by B’Tselem for a variety of accusations against Israel. He alleged in 2007, based on one eyewitness whose testimony he claimed to have heard, that the IDF was using human shields in Jenin. In 2009, he again published an accusation, again based on one eyewitness whose testimony he claimed to have heard, that the IDF was firing on fleeing civilians in Gaza, during Operation Cast Lead. He is also listed as a researcher in the B’Tselem report released in May 2011 that alleges Israeli theft of Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley.
Whether B’Tselem will revisit Al-Rub’s body of work, and question his findings, in light of the current situation still remains unclear.