This weekend, Professor Gerald Steinberg executive director of NGO Monitor and head of the program on conflict management at Bar Ilan University, spent Shabbos at my shul as the first program of the Helen and Herbert Fischman Jewish Living Fund.
Professor Steinberg message was that Israel is going trough tough times, and they will get tougher, but in the end she will persevere. He pointed out that neither Olmert or Abbas have a true mandate, it is doubful that neither one of them will be empowered to lead their countries to make the hard decisions necessary for peace.
The Professor spoke of how the Arab stance/strategy has not changed in over 40 years and how they have one significant thing going for them, patience if they don’t destroy Israel this generation, they will the next or the one after that. Theirs patience also highlights a difference between Judaism and Islam. We both believe in a “world to come” but Jews teach that you are supposed to enjoy this world also.
The Arabs realize that it would be difficult to defeat Israel militarily so their strategy is to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish State. And if you look at what is coming out of Europe and even some places they are doing a good Job of it. Europe is growing tired of having a Mid-East conflict to deal with, and their is just one Israel and tons of Arab states, eventually they will go against Israel just because it is easier than going against all the Arab states [with all of that oil].
At a lecture I went to on Thursday the speaker made the same point. And pointed to the fact that the Palestinians make emotional cases to the world public, Israel tends to use hard cold statistics, more accurate, but less convince that Abbas showing sick kids and singing when you walk through a storm.
Based on the public opinion surrounding the present conflict in Iraq, Steinberg feels that what ever party wins the presidency in 2008 the US will be more likely to become more isolationist and more likely force an unjust “settlement” on Israel just so they don’t have to deal with the conflict.
His final point is REALLY frightening when you add the fact that while Bush may be pro-Israel, much of the rest of the the administration is not as supportive. If you take a look at the op-ed the good Professor wrote in JTA this past week, the thought of the US State Department getting even more Arabist is very scary.
The lack of credibility and professionalism in the chapter on Israel of the U.S. State Department’s latest human rights report seriously undermines the credibility of the entire document, Gerald Steinberg writes.JERUSALEM (JTA) — The annual U.S. State Department report on human rights are important in documenting systematic violations in Darfur, China, Iran, Russia and elsewhere.
For this reason, the lack of credibility and professionalism reflected in the chapter on “Israel and the Occupied Territories” in the publication for 2006 (released March 6) is particularly disturbing, and seriously undermines the credibility of the rest of the report. While the State Department’s version recognizes the context of terror and the legitimacy of Israeli self-defense, and is far more balanced than the farcical United Nations reports, this publication is still highly flawed.
The main reason is the almost total reliance on allegations made by the large number of non-governmental organizations active in this conflict zone. Instead of doing their own research on these complex human rights issues, the authors of this report in the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem (on the Palestinians) and in the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv (on Israeli actions) parrot the claims of highly political NGOs.
Groups such as Adalah, Mossawa, HaMoked, B’Tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), and Human Rights Watch are the real authors of this chapter. With the exception of HRW, these NGOs are funded by European governments, radical church groups and similar donors.
As NGO Monitor’s carefully referenced and detailed studies show, these NGOs follow a highly politicized agenda that views the Palestinians as perennial victims and Israel as guilty of “war crimes,” “racism” and “violations of international law.” These organizations apply double standards that single out and demonize Israel, following the strategy adopted at the infamous NGO Forum of the 2001 U.N. Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa.
This strategy includes false allegations of human rights abuses, selective or distorted interpretations of international law and use of inflammatory rhetoric. These groups cannot be considered “reputable international organizations” or “credible NGOs,” as the State Department claims.
For example, the 2006 report includes numerous references to petitions brought to the Israeli judicial system on behalf of Palestinian groups or individuals by “reputable NGOs.” Many of these are dismissed — as in the case of PCATI’s case against targeted killings aimed at Palestinian terrorist leaders — but the main result is to influence public opinion by reinforcing the image of Israel as guilty of “war crimes.”
The political biases that underlie these NGOs’ activities and distort their factual claims and interpretations of international law are very visible. Mossawa and Adalah routinely refer to Israel as “racist” and call for changing the Israeli flag and national anthem, “abolishing the Jewish elements of Israel” and implementing a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians claiming refugee status.
And PCATI is the sole source for the State Department claim that the Israel Security Agency used “torture” in 20 percent of its interrogations. No evidence or sources are provided, and the report failed to note that members of PCATI’s staff and board campaign for radical causes, such as the “Free Tali Fahima” campaign. Fahima was convicted for assisting Zakaria Zubeidi, a Palestinian terrorist and head of the Al-Aksa Brigades in Jenin.
HRW is another example of a powerful NGO that lacks credibility and balance on Israel. The State Department report repeats HRW statements that “claimed that between May 30 and June 20, IDF forces attacked Palestinian medical emergency personnel on at least six separate occasions in Gaza, including two attacks by missile-firing drone aircraft.”
HRW’s reports are based on “eyewitness testimony” of Palestinians and selected journalists, and strip away both the context and the numerous examples in which Palestinians have used medical vehicles and clothing in terror attacks. HRW’s blatantly false reports during last summer’s war with Hezbollah, including the claim to have found “no cases” of Hezbollah activity during its investigations, further lower this organization’s credibility.
In many places, the language of the State Department report imitates the rhetoric of the anti-Israel NGO network. Atomic spy Mordechai Vanunu is incorrectly termed a “whistleblower,” adopting the term used by Amnesty International and other groups. A “whistleblower” reveals illegal behavior by others, while Vanunu acted illegally in revealing sensitive national security information. Such actions are illegal under U.S. law, and the report’s characterization reflects the double standards applied to Israel that have been copied from NGOs.
These and other flaws in this report do not mean that Israel should be immune from criticism for real violations of human rights when they occur. In responding to terror, Israelis, Americans and others make mistakes and should be held accountable.
But this objective is inconsistent with the exploitation of human rights for demonization and political warfare by politicized NGOs, and the U.S. State Department should not be part of this process.
Steinberg ended his discussion on a high note, pointing out that as Jews we are a resilient people, we have survived much horror and torment over 5,000+ years and have always found a way to survive. This too, we WILL get through.