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Scholars for Peace in the Middle East SPME 0 In the past fifty years, NGOs non-governmental organizations focusing on human rights issues have become highly influential actors in international politics in general, and in the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular.
As such, NGOs are often portrayed and present themselves as altruistic, promoting the common good, while business and political organizations are perceived as selfish and particularistic.
In reality, as demonstrated in this article, both NGOs display strong anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian biases. Much of this growth took place in the context of the Cold War, particularly during the s.
They actively protested the situation of political prisoners, and the denial of human rights to Jews in the Soviet Union and the Communist countries of Eastern Europe, including the denial of the right to emigrate.
By the mids these organizations were very powerful international actors, but a few years later, with the coming of glasnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War, they needed to find new missions to justify their continued existence and importance. Many discovered the Middle East, and the Israeli-Arab conflict in particular, to be a good venue for maintaining and even increasing their influence.
In this period, the ideology of post-colonialism became increasingly dominant in the NGO community, in concert with much of the media, academic, and diplomatic networks.
Galand gained public visibility while heading Oxfam Belgium for three decades9 Oxfam is a powerful NGO confederation providing humanitarian aid while often espousing a distinct political agenda and ideology. InOxfam Belgium produced an anti-Israel poster based on the theme of the blood libel, which was later withdrawn following intense criticism.
Similarly, New York-based Human Rights Watch is headed by Kenneth Roth, a former prosecutor whose rhetoric often reflects the post-nationalist and post-colonialist ideology. In addition, Lucy Meir, who was hired in as a researcher for Israel and the West Bank, had previously been affiliated with the radical Electronic Intifada website.
The close links between radical politics and the NGO community that developed over the past three decades is most salient with respect to the exploitation of the language of universal human rights to promote the particular political and ideological agenda of anti-Zionism, demonizing Israel, and the new anti-Semitism, as will be demonstrated in the detailed analyses below.
Following the collapse of the Oslo process, it was accompanied by a massive political attack, aimed at delegitimizing and isolating Israel internationally. In the political and diplomatic environment of the time, Israel was already very isolated. Media coverage systematically portrayed the Palestinians sympathetically as victims, and Israelis as powerful aggressors and occupiers.
Israeli victims of terrorism were largely invisible, while the image of Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian child filmed with his father attempting to avoid what was portrayed as Israeli gunfire, became the central symbol. The European Union threatened economic sanctions, and the UN passed resolutions condemning Israeli policies, using in its justifications the language of human rights and international law.
The NGO network has played a central role in this political war, beginning with the Durban conference and continuing through the boycott and divestment campaigns. Although most of them denounced the NGO document that was adopted, it was surprising how reluctant they were to attack the anti-Semitic atmosphere ….
There were no references to Palestinian terror, or the use of densely-populated areas for sheltering terrorists to deter Israeli retaliation. The Israeli government responded with Defensive Shield, a military operation designed to disrupt and destroy the bases of the terror network located in densely populated urban areas, such as the Jenin refugee camp.
The NGO community played a major role in promoting the false reports of massacre and perpetuating related claims that stripped the Israeli military action from the context of terror, as outlined in the Durban strategy.
In these activities, which consistently invoked the rhetoric of human rights and international law, the NGO community stripped these concepts of their essential universality. The various reports published by HRW, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, Adalah, and others, made no effort to place the Israeli actions in the context of terror, or to compare the responses to other situations involving massive violence, incitement, and terrorism.
For example, these NGOs issued far fewer reports and devoted a much lower level of resources in response to the mass killings in Sudan that were taking place during the same period.
In this plan, formed on the South African analogy, the United Nations would declare Israel to be an outlaw state, and begin discussions of sanctions.
At the time, Prime Minister Sharon hesitated, and finally decided against cooperation after the biases of its members and the limited terms of its mandate, which excluded Palestinian terror, became clear. In addition, the revelation that the massacre claims were unfounded blocked further action on this basis.
Nevertheless, the NGO-led campaign based on the Jenin massacre myth provided the foundations for moving forward with the strategy of demonizing Israel, based on the imposition of sanctions and boycotts.
The adoption of the separation barrier as the foundation for this stage of the Durban strategy again emphasized the transformation of the universal principles of human rights and international law into particular criteria created specifically in order to condemn and marginalize Israel.
Initially, the campaign succeeded, and the ICJ, which is a political body with a judicial facade,40 issued its advisory opinion on July As expected, the majority claimed that the Israeli policy was a violation of international law. As in other cases, the NGO reports on the separation barrier provided little or no analysis of the Israeli security environment, and the role of the Palestinian officials in promoting terror.
The language and terms of reference that they used was very similar to that used by HRW. The objective was to use these activities to promote sanctions, consistent with the Durban strategy.
In addition, a campaign began to press selected commercial firms, such as the Caterpillar Corporation, to end business with Israel. This boycott effort was accompanied by a great deal of publicity, including press conferences and rallies, at which NGO officials took an active role.
Similarly, the drive calling for divestment from Israel began in a number of churches in the UK, the U.The Washington Post had a similarly neutral headline. The Post did mention the “slap” reference, but only in the fifth paragraph.
It is only the New York Times that elevates the quotation by Saeb Erekat to the first description of the Israeli policy. The day after The Washington Post revealed video showing Trump explaining to TV host Billy Bush how he would grab women by the crotch, a Trump supporter in Syracuse, N.Y., Shannon Barns, said that.
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