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Monday, November 08, 2010

B'tselem's hypocrisy

From Israel Today, translated by NGO Monitor:
Here is a quote from the “Bubbes and Zaydes for Peace” (BZP) website: "First launched in Toronto in 2005, ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ has grown to become one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar... This year, IAW occurs in the wake of Israel's barbaric assault against the people of Gaza. Lectures, films, and actions will make the point that these latest massacres further confirm the true nature of Israeli Apartheid. IAW 2009 will continue to build and strengthen the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at a global level."

Based on their declaration, Bubbes and Zaydes supports and seeks to strengthen the BDS movement. ...The strategy is not just one of international activity to delegitimize Israel, but also undermining of the basic consensus of Israeli society. [The BDS movement] also grants indirect support and legitimacy to the armed struggle against Israel, that is to say, indirect support for terrorism.

Two weeks ago [BZP] donated money to B’Tselem, and the organization’s executive director, Jessica Montell, was quick to boast on Twitter: “I don't know the group but it brought a big smile to my face.” NGO Monitor, headed by Prof. Gerald Steinberg, contacted B’Tselem and warned them that the donation was from an anti-Israel organization that promotes Israel’s delegitimization, and supports the anti-Israel, and essentially anti-Semitic, policy of BDS. This contradicts the stated principles of B’Tselem – and the recent declarations of the New Israel Fund which supports B’Tselem – not to cooperate with organizations that deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Will you reject the contributions, asked NGO Monitor, now that the donors have been revealed to be anti-Israel? The organization’s response was that it was honored to accept donations that aim to ensure the highest ethical standards for life in Israel.

So ‘grandmas and grandpas’ in Yiddish (Bubbes and Zaydes) sounds harmless, and what could be wrong with accepting donations from them? A simple search, however, exposes the harsh face of this organization.

Organizations such as B’Tselem, that hold Israel to exceptional moral standards, should themselves be held to the same standards, especially when it comes to Israel’s existence.
B'Tselem had written to NGO Monitor [entire email exchange here] saying that "B'Tselem's board has explicitly rejected BDS tactics against the State of Israel. We have in the past and will continue to refuse donations from organizations whose aims and activities contradict universal human rights principles."

I couldn't find any official mention of the anti-BDS policy on B'Tselem's site, and they ignored my email asking for clarification. But from what they are saying, they seem to believe that the BDS movement that aims to destroy Israel and denies Jewish national self-determination - which they personally disagree with - is still in accordance with "universal human rights principles."

On paper, B'Tselem's mission of human rights is admirable, and there is nothing wrong with holding Israel to high standards in that area. But this email seems to indicate that B'Tselem is more interested in money and politics than in its own supposed idealistic goals.