It seems that anything other than treating Gaza, the place, its people, its government, as an irredeemable pariah is regarded by Israel’s defence elite as the soft face of terrorism. Thus the Council for European Palestinian Relations, a non-secretive NGO with the aim of organizing visits to the oPt by European policy-makers, has been ‘outlawed’ by Israel’s defence minister making its funds liable to seizure and officers liable to arrest in Israel.
The Alternative Information Centre’s regular bulletin, The Economy of the Occupation, has devoted an issue to a thorough, and invaluable, investigation of the right-wing NGOs which operate in Israel: who they are, what they do who funds them. Unsurprisingly, the donors are largely wealthy American individuals and bodies, both Jewish and Christian. The Israeli government increasingly relies on them to sell Israel’s case – hasbara. Given the results, one might wonder if they’re getting enough bang for their bucks. (Foreign income for human rights NGOs is far smaller.)
Gerald Steinberg, vigorous persecutor of pro-Palestinian NGOs, who lost the case he brought to the European Court of Justice on transparency funding for such NGOs, remains tight-lipped on where he is finding the funds for his legal costs. Ali Abuminah reports.
Regular readers will be aware of the efforts of Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor, to prevent any EU funding going to NGOs which support any Palestinian rights and to (mis)represent his organisation as a neutral auditor of NGO funding. He has pursued his campaign all the way to the European Court of Justice. And lost. We expect transparency in his payment of the costs.
22 NGOs, Christian and secular, have taken up what EU institutions have flunked: a campaign to press the EC and EU members to practise their policies on the illegality of Israel’s settlements and what they produce. CAABU media release plus excerpt from the report Trading Away Peace.
In 2001, Yossi Alpher and Ghassan Khatib came together to create bitter lemons, a publishing venture to present in the same space the voices of Israelis and Palestinians. It depended on EU funding, hard work and goodwill. Now one of those publications – the online magazine – is to cease. Israeli intransigence has been met with Palestinian withdrawal from joint enterprise. EU funders are stuck in the mould of restarting the ‘peace process’. Rosemary Hollis (1) analyses the reasons put forward by editors Yossi Alpher and Ghassan Khatib (2).
The mainstream of American liberal opinion was long reluctant to accept that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, its military rule there and its treatment of its Arab citizens did not allow it to be cherished as the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. Now that has changed and one publication after another is issuing its discovery of the inequality at the heart of Israel. Here it’s progressive magazine American Prospect.
In this radio interview with ‘self-loathing Jew’ Joshua Holland, ‘anti-Semite’ Max Blumenthal explains with great economy and clarity why the batch of new laws in Israel is anti-democratic. Not really new as from the start Israel has been ‘a settler, colonial state that privileges the Jewish majority’, created through violence over the Palestinians
New group ‘Brits for Peace Now’ says it believes settlements are ‘fundamental’ as a block to peace and a 2-state solution. Unlike JfJfP which is confined to Jewish signatories in order to make the point that Jews are opposed to the occupation and the Israeli government does not speak for all Jews, Brits for Peace Now will be open to all. Whether (2nd item) they really want to realise Herzl’s vision of Israel as a European nation and outpost of German Kultur is another matter.
Israel’s former ambassador to S.Africa recalls its laws designed to disable civil society, destroy community organizations and stamp out human rights. But, unlike the ‘strikingly similar’ laws being proposed in Israel, at least there was due process in the apartheid state.
The trickle of publications about actions by Israeli institutions which undermine the democracy of ‘the Middle East’s only democracy’ has become a torrent. Veteran critic Uri Avnery explains why the alarm is now truly well-founded
A renewed effort by right-wing MKs to limit the role of NGOs in Israeli society by cutting funds from foreign donors has led to a sharp protest by 18 of the NGOs which keep Israeli society dynamic. They ask the international community to join their protest
The Israeli Knesset, the “worst for democracy in the history of Israel”, is expected to to pass a bill making it a felony to support a boycott of settlement products . NGOs are covered by the bill, jeopardising their tax status.
Hospitals in Gaza are running out of medical stock, creating a ‘near catastrophe’ in care. Human rights groups urged to act, the Israeli blockade and the continuing stand-off between Hamas and Fatah are blamed
Palestinian civil society groups are preparing for a day of mass sit-ins on 15 March, to protest the widening split between Palestinian political and resistance factions as Israel’s illegal occupation grinds on. The Electronic Intifada reports.
NGO monitor has been the scourge of human-rights NGOs in Israel, accusing them indiscriminately of being anti-Israel, antisemitic, in the forefront of the campaign to delegitimise Israel and much else beside. It’s role in encouraging the Knesset to go the assault against these NGOs is also clear.
But who or what is NGO Monitor? The New Israel Fund poses some pertinent questions. Its posting is undated, and Yossi Alpher’s article was published in December 2009. But nothing has changed since; and the pernicious interventions of NGO Monitor need to be seen for what they are – an attempt to delegitimise criticism of Israel as such.
Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, writes about “a well-coordinated, escalating Israeli government-endorsed effort to vilify individuals and cripple organisations that criticise Israel’s human rights record and call for it to respect Palestinian rights and international law…”
The threat to Israeli NGOs is shaping up with the demand, now likely to become law, that all Israeli non-profit associations, including NGOs, human-rights organisations and peace groups, as well as charitable corporations such as theatres and cultural organisations, report within 30 days to the Registrar of Associations on every sum of funding they receive from a foreign government or government-funded donors. Right-wing and settler groups, not funded by foreign governments but by private funds, will not be exposed to this increased scrutiny and bureaucratic harassment…
The Israeli NGO, Hamoked – the Centre for the Defence of the Individual, has just launched a new website, including a quiz on ‘What do you know about the occupation?’ [...]
Shir Hever argues that we are witnessing A DARK TIME IN ISRAEL: “a new trend has been developing rapidly in the past four years of extreme measures taken against political dissenters, particularly against citizens of Israel (as opposed to non-citizen Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, who were never permitted freedom of expression). This trend threatens to eliminate the relative safety of Israelis, and especially Israeli Jews, to voice their opposition to government’s policies…lines are being crossed, and there is no way of telling where it will stop [...]“