Mourning on International Human Rights Day
Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Right issued in 1948. But, a new report by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, an organization that investigates and sharply criticizes many self-described human rights groups as thinly disguised anti-Israel outfits, suggests there is no reason to celebrate.
I spoke by phone today with NGO Monitor's president, Gerald Steinberg. He makes the case that NGOs funded in large part by European governments and the EU have hijacked the rhetoric and legal framework of international human rights to "launch political warfare against Israel but also against democracies more broadly." NGO Monitor has released an updated monograph, "NGO 'Lawfare': Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict." By releasing the report to coincide with International Human Rights Day, Steinberg explains that NGO Monitor is trying to make the case that the "dominant actors who control a lot of the agenda" are some of the worst offenders and apologists for human rights abusers.
The report is exhaustive, and persuasive, documenting how NGOs employ human rights lingo (e.g. "disproportionate force") and international conferences, coordinate with the Arab League, and use the International Criminal Court and international legal principals, such as "universal jurisdiction," for a single purpose: to vilify the state of Israel and undermine its right of self-defense. We have seen such ludicrous abuses as the issuance of an arrest warrant by the ICC against Kamida chief and former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
One of the more egregious examples in the report demonstrates the link between European governments and Palestinian groups, which under the banner of "human rights" launch daily assaults on Israeli sovereignty. A press release from NGO Monitor announcing the new monograph described how the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) filed arrest warrants "in multiple countries against Israeli officials, primarily for 'war crimes' over the 2002 targeted killing of Hamas terrorist Salah Shehade'." The money for this, roughly $400,000, was provided in 2005 by the Dutch affiliate of Oxfam, which diverted European Union grant money for the "Abolition of the Death Penalty Project," a project supposedly intended to abolish the death penalty "in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, applied by the Palestinian National Authority via judicial death sentences and via extrajudicial executions." The money was actually used by PCHR to strategize with attorneys on its "war crimes" lawsuits.
NGO Monitor has repeatedly criticized the non-transparent funding and lack of oversight of NGO groups, and it has supported a bill in Israel's Knesset to require NGOs to disclose their foreign funding sources. Recently, NGO Monitor revealed that the anti-Israel propaganda website Electonic Intifada has been funded by the Dutch government, via the aid group Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation. Steinberg told the Jerusalem Post, "Based on our experience, we assume that the top Dutch government officials are completely unaware of the link between money given to ICCO for aid, and Electronic Intifada, a group whose rhetoric and activities undermine hopes for mutual understanding."
The conversion of "human rights" advocacy into virulent anti-Israel "lawfare" is nowhere more evident than in the UN Commission on Human Rights, which devotes nearly all its energies to condemning and investigating Israel. Steinberg says, "The U.S. role in the UNHRC needs to be thoroughly debated." He dismisses the administration's argument that "it would be worse" without our participation. He says, "It's hard to argue that there is any value derived by sitting with some of the worse human rights perpetrators." Indeed, the UNHRC steers clear of human rights abuses in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya and China, while launching investigations of Israel's involvement in the flotilla incident and preparing to follow up on the Goldstone Report, which labeled as "war crimes" Israel's military actions in the Gaza strip in response to Hamas's shelling of innocent civilians.
The months to come will see more opportunities for exploitation of human rights forums. The Durban III conference is scheduled to meet in New York. That promises a replay of the infamous predecessor Durban I, which turned into an "anti-Israel circus," as the late Rep. Tom Lantos described it. Groups will continue to use the ICC to indict and seek the arrest of Israeli officials, and, unless the White House thinks better of it, the UNHRC will proceed on its vendetta against Israel with the full participation of the U.S.
The death of a legitimate international agenda to protect human rights and promote democracy is reason to mourn on International Human Rights Day. In point of fact, the greatest force for human rights and democracy is and will remain the United States, if only the administration would step up to the plate to, among other things, denounce the NGOs who make a mockery of the cause they pretend to advance.
Posted by: 54465446 | December 9, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 9, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Lumiere1 | December 9, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rcaruth | December 9, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 54465446 | December 9, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MsJS | December 9, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 54465446 | December 9, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mango4 | December 10, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 10, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hancock1 | December 10, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dblakeross | December 15, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.