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NGO News in Brief

By NGO Monitor
June 5, 2008


 

Focus: “Global Report on Child Soldiers” erases terrorist recruitment of children
 
The “Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers,” which includes major NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Defence for Children International and International Save the Children Alliance, published its global report on May 20, 2008.
 
The credibility of the sections on Israel and the Palestinians is highly questionable, as shown by to NGO Monitor’s analysis and research on the Coalition and its partner, Defence for Children International – Palestine section (DCI/PS):
 
  • DCI/PS emphasizes allegations of Israeli “willful killing,” but completely erases terror attacks against Israeli children, such as in Sderot;
  • The Coalition claims that “There was no documented evidence of [Palestinian] child involvement in suicide bombings after 2004.” However, another joint Coalition–DCI/PS document describes two cases in 2007 (30 August and 9 September) in which Palestinian children were caught on their way to carry out suicide bombings. B’tselem’s list of Palestinian casualties includes 31 youths whose deaths were linked to involvement in terror and violence from December 2006 through March 2008;
  • Many of the claims are not sourced and cannot be verified;
  • The responsibility of Palestinian officials for active recruitment of children for violence, including the use of television programming, is strongly and systematically understated.
 
Click here to view NGO Monitor's full report.

Human Rights Watch's press release on this issue reflected the Global Report's strong bias and selective reporting.  HRW included claims that "Palestinian children were used … as human shields by the Israel Defense Forces," that "Israel ... [was] among the countries where there were allegations of ill-treatment or torture of child detainees" and in "the Occupied Palestinian Territories, … teenagers were used in suicide attacks. "  However, there was no mention of Palestinian terrorists' targeting of Israeli children, or Palestinian grooming of children for terrorism.
 


Durban Review Conference – April 2009: Update on Developments

 
  • NGO Monitor posts new Durban Review Conference Webpage and blog
NGO Monitor's new Durban Review Conference (DRC) webpage includes up-to-date information on the DRC: NGO participation, government statements, the Preparatory Committee meetings, and other relevant NGO developments. NGO Monitor's blog now posts frequent “Durban Review Summaries,” including the most relevant news items related to NGOs at the DRC.
 
  • Durban Review Conference to be held in Geneva as European policymakers continue to threaten boycotts
The UN resumed its Preparatory Committee Meetings last week and selected Geneva as the location for the DRC, which will take place April 20-24, 2009. Meanwhile, European policymakers continue to consider boycotting the conference.  On May 14, the U.K. Minister for Europe Jim Murphy issued a statement saying that it would consider boycotting the DRC if it “exhibits the degree of anti-Semitism that was disgracefully on view on the previous occasion.” Similarly, on May 18, Dutch Interior Minister Maxime Verhagen said that the Netherlands would not hesitate to withdraw from the DRC if there are any attempts to label Israel a racist state.



NGO Monitor evaluates Amnesty International’s 2007 Agenda

  • NGO Monitor's systematic “Review of Amnesty International in 2007: Attacking Democracy instead of Oppression in Middle East” analyzes this NGO’s activities regarding the Middle East in 2007.  The report found that Amnesty singled out Israel for more condemnation than Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Lebanon and Algeria, and more items were published on Israel than on Hamas, Hizbullah and the PA combined.  If detailed reports are used as an indicator, Amnesty ranks Israel and Iraq equally as the worst human rights abusers in the Middle East.  NGO Monitor's report also analyzed Amnesty's 2008 Annual Report, (covering events in 2007), which presented a gross misrepresentation of the conflict, quoted sources which lack credibility, and ignored human rights issues not related to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
     See Gerald Steinberg debates Irene Khan, head of Amnesty International, on BBC World Service Radio, May 28, 2008
     Amnesty criticizes Palestinians, Israel. By Jonny Paul, The Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2008
    • On May 7, 2008 the Ethiopian government accused Amnesty International of a “smear campaign…, using highly emotive, even racist language," and of publishing “deliberately invented stories” about Ethiopian troops stationed in Somalia. The Ethiopians claimed that Amnesty repeated unverified statements by militant Islamic terrorist group, al Shabaab, while ignoring widespread human rights abuses by the al Shabaab.  
    • In a May 22, 2008 Statement by Amnesty International to the United Nation Human Rights Council’s first thematic special session on the world food crisis, the NGO placed Gaza before Myanmar, Somalia and Sudan in describing areas of "mass hunger."   In contrast, in the same week, the President of the UN General Assembly singled out Israel for praise for "managing to avert the food crises because of agricultural technologies that have helped increase agricultural output."     


    NGOs protest Israel’s independence, commemorate ‘Naqba’ instead

    NGOs including War on Want, ICAHD, Pax Christi, and Amos Trust supported a demonstration on May 10, in London, England, in “opposition to 60 years of Israeli policies and displacement, destruction and occupation and in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

    Friends of Sabeel dedicated a meeting to “mourn[. . . ] six decades  of the nakba”, in which speakers advocated a “one state solution”, meaning the end of Israel as a Jewish state.  Defence for Children International / Palestinian section also released a special report on May 15, 2008, "Nakba 60: No more generations of Palestinian refugee children," which describes the "fear … deprivation, and …daily military violence under the Israeli occupation," while erasing all Palestinian responsibility and terrorism.
     


    PHR-I admits errors, but campaign continues
    Physicians for Human Rights-Israel falsely reported the death of a live Gaza cancer patient awaiting a permit to enter Israel, calling into question the credibility of the organization's research. Nevertheless, PHR-I continued to petition Israel’s High Court of Justice to allow Gazans into Israel despite the court’s repeated refusal. Amnesty International issued an urgent action utilizing the terminology of “collective punishment” in support of PHR-I’s campaign.

    On the other hand, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel made a positive contribution to its mandate in analyzing the distribution of medical devices in Israel (link to Hebrew report), noting the disproportionate concentration of medical equipment in the Center of the country.



    ADALAH and ACRI resume attacks on Israel citizenship law

    The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned the Israel High Court of Justice to overturn a law that denies Israeli citizenship to Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs.

    See NGO Monitor’s submission to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for Adalah’s disregard of the security context of the legislation and distortions of international law in its position.     
     


    B'tselem warns Israel in its condemnation of rocket fire on Ashkelon

    In an April 28, 2008 statement, B’Tselem accused Israel of falsifying claims regarding removal of security checkpoints, under pressure from the US government. The NGO claimed that some checkpoints had not been removed, or were rebuilt in order to dismantle them on camera. B’Tselem demands that Israel “immediately remove all restrictions on movement inside the West Bank and… concentrate its efforts to protect Israelis on checkpoints between the West Bank and Israel.”

    On May 15, 2008, B'Tselem released a statement condemning the rocket fire on Ashkelon as "war crimes." The NGO acknowledged that "It is not only Israel's right but its duty to protect its citizens" but warned that "fulfillment of this duty must employ measures that are consistent with the demands of international humanitarian law (IHL). Israel must consider all its actions in light of the principles of IHL, and act in a proportionate manner, distinguishing between civilians and combatants."



    Human Rights Watch, PHR-I, Gisha "Letter to President Bush" filled with inaccuracies  
    Human Rights Watch (HRW), Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel published a joint "Letter to President Bush on the situation in Gaza," on May 12, 2008.  This document accuses Israel of "collective punishment against the [Gazan] civilian population, a serious violation of international humanitarian law" and labels Israel the "occupying power in Gaza."

    See David Rivkin and Lee Casey's op-ed in the Washington Post demonstrating the legal fallacy of this argument.

    However, in an uncommon statement on intra-Palestinian human rights abuses, HRW's May 30, 2008 press release, "Gaza: Investigate Abduction, Torture by Islamic Jihad," criticizes Hamas as well as Fatah for arbitrary arrests, torture and due process violations.



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