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Israeli ‘Human Rights’ Groups Are Political Agents of Influence

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 09-01-2011

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On Sunday December 19, the self-proclaimed “Israeli human rights” group B’Tselem disseminated a shocking story to the local and international media. B’Tselem claimed that the previous day Palestinian shepherd Samir Bani Fadel was peacefully herding his sheep when he was set upon by a mob of Israeli settlers. He alleged that these kippah-clad Israelis drove up in a car and chased him away. Then they torched the pasture and burned 12 pregnant ewes alive and badly burned five others. B’Tselem furnished reporters with graphic photos of the dead sheep.

While the media published the account without a shred of suspicion, the police found Fadel’s account hard to believe. Observant Jews neither drive nor light fires on Saturdays.

And indeed, when questioned by police investigators, Fadel admitted he made the whole attack up. He accidentally killed his herd himself when he set fire to a pile of bramble. Too embarrassed to admit his mistake, he decided to blame the Jews and become a local hero. B’Tselem was only too happy to spread his lies.

On January 3, Channel 2 aired a video produced by B’Tselem. The video purported to show residents of Yitzhar — a community in Samaria - throwing rocks at Palestinians from the neighboring village Bureen for no reason whatsoever.  Channel 2 presented the footage as further proof - if anyone needed it — that the Israelis who live in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem are a bunch of lawless, hate-filled, violent fanatics.

Unfortunately for B’Tselem and Channel 2, Yitzhar residents also own a video camera. And they also filmed the event. The Samaria Regional Council released the video to the media on Tuesday.

The Yitzhar video exposes the B’Tselem video as a complete fraud. As it happened, on Monday afternoon a group of Palestinians joined by Israelis and/or foreigners descended on Yitzhar and attacked its residents with bricks and rocks of all sizes. Among the assailants was the cameraman who shot the footage presented on Channel 2. Not only did the videographer - who has blond hair - participate in the violent assault on Yitzhar. He staged the incident by alternately throwing rocks, filming, and directing his fellow attackers where to throw their rocks.

The Jews of Yitzhar only began throwing rocks to fend off their attackers.

This past Saturday the Palestinians’ invented what has all the trappings of a new blood libel against Israel.

Every Friday Israeli anti-Zionist activists, Palestinian Authority employees, and foreign anti-Israel groups join forces at Bil’in. Together they attack IDF soldiers guarding construction of the separation barrier adjacent to Bil’in village.

Saturday, the PA claimed that Jawaher Abu-Rahmeh, a woman from Bil’in died from tear gas inhalation at the previous day’s riot. The PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed that her death was an IDF war crime.

Erekat of course, has not distinguished himself as a paragon of truthfulness. To the contrary. He has a long track record of spreading lies about Israel on the international stage. In just one notable example, in April 2002, Erekat claimed in multiple television appearances that the IDF killed more than 500 people at Jenin refugee camp during Operation Defensive Shield. He also claimed that the IDF buried some 300 people in mass graves.

The UN later reported that during the pitched battle in Jenin refugee camp, 52 Palestinians were killed. 23 IDF soldiers were killed in the battle.

Despite Erekat’s rich history of lies, B’Tselem’s Executive Director Jessica Montell joined his bandwagon immediately. As NGO Monitor documented, in a Twitter post on Saturday, Montell wrote, “Sad start to the year. Jawaher Abu Rahmeh died this morning after inhaling tear gas yesterday in Bil’in demonstration.”

Her claim was echoed in similar statements from her fellow Israeli anti-Zionist pressure groups. Anarchists Against the Wall, Yesh Din, Gush Shalom, Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, and attorney Michel Sfard who is associated with Yesh Din, Al Haq and Breaking the Silence all alleged that the IDF murdered Abu Rahmah with tear gas.

As luck would have it though, eyewitnesses say that Abu Rahma didn’t even participate in the weekly riot. Ilham Abu Rahma, her 19 year old cousin and neighbor told Britain’s Independent that deceased was at home when the riot took place.

For its part, the IDF has reported that the medical information it received about Abu Rahma’s death are not consistent with death through overexposure to tear gas. During her hospitalization, Abu Rahma received an unusual mix of drugs that is usually only administered to treat poisoning, drug overdose or leukemia. The IDF also revealed that Abu Rahma had been recently hospitalized at a Palestinian hospital.

The easiest way to determine what caused Abu Rahma’s death would of course have been to perform an autopsy. The IDF asked for one to be performed. But the PA refused the request and instead buried her in record time.

THE SAD truth is that a case can easily be made that all of this might have been avoided if B’Tselem hadn’t taken it upon itself to delegitimize Israel’s right to self-defense. As part of its efforts, in 2002 B’Tselem spearheaded the international campaign against Israel’s right to build the separation fence to keep Palestinian suicide bombers out of its major cities.

As NGO Monitor’s recent in-depth report about the lawfare campaign to use the language of law to criminalize Israel shows, B’Tselem was the first NGO to launch a campaign against the security fence. It coined the draconian term, “The Wall” to define the barrier which is in most places nothing more than a wire fence. NGO Monitor recalls that in 2002 and 2003 B’Tselem “issued two lengthy position papers, which became accepted as the definitive analyses of ‘the Wall’ and were widely adopted.”

B’Tselem’s campaign against the security fence was quickly joined by other NGOs, the UN and the EU. Its allegations formed the basis of the international campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to build the barrier.

That campaign reached a high point in 2004 with the publication of International Court of Justice’s opinion on the matter. The ICJ’s opinion parroted B’Tselem’s charge that Israel has no right to defend itself from Palestinian aggression. So too, the “evidence” against Israel’s right to defend itself submitted by the PLO was based largely on the two B’Tselem reports.

If B’Tselem hadn’t launched the campaign against the fence, it is possible that Israel’s decision to built it might have been greeted with the same indifference as the security fences erected by the likes of India, Spain and numerous other countries in disputed territories. That is, it might have been seen as the legitimate act of self-defense it is.

The central role that B’Tselem and its anti-Zionist comrades in the Israeli NGO community play in the international political war being waged against Israel’s right to exist first came under significant public scrutiny following the publication of the UN Human Rights Committee’s Goldstone report on Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

As NGO Monitor and the Zionist student movement Im Tirtzu demonstrated last year, B’Tselem and 15 other Israeli NGOs funded by the New Israel Fund and foreign governments lobbied the UN Human Rights Council to form the Goldstone Commission with the clear agenda of criminalizing Israel and whitewashing Hamas’s war crimes against the Jewish state.

Moreover, B’Tselem and its fellow-NIF grantees, provided 92 percent of the anti-Israel allegations originating from Israeli sources. These allegations - most of which were firmly denied by the IDF - were used by Judge Richard Goldstone and his colleagues to “prove” that Israel committed war crimes in prosecuting its campaign to protect southern Israel from Hamas’s illegal missile onslaught.

Not surprisingly, when scrutinized, like the story about the scorched pregnant ewes, the Yitzhar “bullies” and the “illegality” of the fence, these allegations came apart under scrutiny.

For instance, B’Tselem claimed that during Cast Lead the IDF killed 1,387 Gazans and only 330, or less than a quarter of them were combatants. As NGO Monitor notes, the Goldstone report’s claim that “Only one of every five [Gazan] casualties was a combatant,” clearly was based on B’Tselem’s numbers.

The IDF - which B’Tselem and its comrades claim has no credibility - reported that of 1166 Palestinian deaths, 709 were fighters killed in combat. Goldstone dismissed the IDF data.

Yet in November, Hamas’s “Interior Minister” Fathi Hamad admitted to the London-based Al Hayat newspaper that the IDF’s numbers were far more accurate than B’Tselem’s. According to Hamad, 600-700 Hamas fighters were killed in Cast Lead.

ONE OF the reasons that false stories by the likes of B’Tselem and its fellow Israeli-staffed anti-Zionist pressure groups are treated with respect by the local media and the international community alike is because they are perceived as Israeli groups. Why would Israelis lie about their own army?

Wednesday the Knesset voted to form a commission of inquiry to examine these groups’ sources of funding. The rationale behind this parliamentary investigation is clear. The time has come to determine just how “Israeli” these organizations that form such an integral part of the international political war against Israel actually are. How much of their funding comes from foreign governments? And if their foreign funding is significant, then how can they claim to be Israeli groups?

B’Tselem for instance receives funding from the British, Swiss, and Irish governments, Christian Aid, the Ford Foundation, DanChurchAid, (funded by the Danish Government), Diakonia, (funded by the Swedish and Norwegian governments and the EU), Trócaire, (funded by the Irish and UK governments),and others.

Yesh Din, which specializes in conducting domestic lawfare against the IDF is funded by the Irish, Dutch, British, German, and Norwegian governments, the EU, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

Physicians for Human Rights- Israel, Breaking the Silence, Bimkom, Peace Now, Gush Shalom, Adalah, the Geneva Initiative, the Committee for Peace and Security and so on and so forth all receive massive funding from foreign governments. The Samaria Regional Council alleges that over the past decade, foreign governments have donated hundreds of millions of euros, dollars and shekels to these Israeli “grassroots” groups.

The fact is that these groups’ claim to grassroots’ status is as credible as their allegations of Israeli criminality and Palestinian victimhood. In truth, these NGOs are local agents of foreign governments who use them to advance their anti-Israel policies.

The Knesset’s move to investigate these groups was greeted by righteous rage from the groups’ leaders and sympathetic Leftist Knesset members. The Knesset’s decision was castigated as “McCarthyite,” and “anti-democratic.” But it is clear these groups and their parliamentary allies doth protest too much.

No one is talking about shutting them down. But the Israeli public has a right to know what these groups really are. And our political representatives have an obligation to investigate and expose subversive foreign agents. Israel and Israel’s democratic system is weakened, not strengthened when the state’s international reputation and domestic discourse is hijacked by foreign governments who hide behind their Israeli foot soldiers.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Big Peace

NY Schools’ ‘Human Rights’ Curriculum Features Van Jones

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 13-12-2010

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A new human rights curriculum that was recently introduced to middle schools and high schools all across New York is a disservice to students because it wastes precious instruction time which would be more wisely spent on academic fundamentals.

Last Friday, December 10, over 1,000 New York students took part in the inaugural webcast of the “Speak Truth to Power” curriculum distributed by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights and New York State United Teachers.
The web event originated from a classroom at Chestnut Ridge Middle School, a school with a student population that recently scored below-average on statewide tests, according to the New York Times.  It is extremely difficult to see how lessons focusing on corporate “greed,” landmine awareness, Chinese labor camps and abolishing the death penalty will do anything to raise student test scores in math, reading and science.
According to a NYSUT blog, the curriculum “introduces general human rights issues” and “urges students to become personally involved in the protection of human rights.”
New York parents and taxpayers ought to be very concerned that their public schools think this curriculum is an appropriate use of time.  Students may end up with an increased awareness of global problems, but if they don’t graduate with basic academic skills, what can they possibly do about such issues?
This is another case of public schools using class time to indoctrinate students with a radical, leftist political agenda. No curriculum that promotes the views of Van Jones should be allowed to pollute the minds of school kids.
New York schools need to focus on the rights of their students to an education that prepares them for life. Teaching social awareness to students who are lacking basic academic skills is a luxury that New York schools, families and taxpayers cannot afford.

Big Government

Bipartsian Group Of New Jersey Lawmakers Introduce ‘The Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights’

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 25-10-2010

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Weeks after 18-year-old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge as a result of LGBT-related bullying, a bipartisan coalition of New Jersey lawmakers have introduced legislation “designed to combat harassment, intimidation and bullying among students.” The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights builds on New Jersey’s existing anti-bullying measure, passed in May of 2002, but advances stronger accountability standards and reporting requirements. From Blue Jersey:

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) and Senator Barbara Buono (D-18) will introduce on Monday the eagerly anticipated harrassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) awareness and prevention legislation. It is expected that it will have bipartisan support, including Assemblywoman Pat Angelini (R-11), and Senators Diane Allen (R-7) and Thomas Goodwin (R-14).

Their bill is squarely aimed at the school environment where discrimination and bullying often begin. It will provide that training on HIB be a part of the training required for public school teaching staff members in suicide prevention. It will create a fund for state grants to school districts. It will include sections on enforcement and response to HIB and on accountability of schools, districts and the state. It will also require the addition of an anti-bullying policy and enforcement mechanism to the student code of conduct of every public college and university.

Lawmakers first began crafting the legislation in 2008, and held numerous meeting with victims and advocates such as Garden State Equality, the Anti-Defamation League and the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention. The goal was to “create a standardized way to identify and investigate incidences of bullying and to train teachers, administrators and school board members in identification and prevention techniques” to reduce New Jersey’s bullying rate which is higher than the national average.

“This bill protects all students who are bullied, not just students bullied because they belong to a particular group that faces discrimination,” Steven Goldstein, head of Garden State Equality told NJToday.net. “Given the painstaking year of work that went into this legislation, it should not be interpreted as a knee-jerk reaction to the tragic death of Tyler Clementi. Although New Jersey must respond to that – and this bill does.”

The legislation also “comes just weeks after New York state introduced a new law requiring New York school districts to protect children against bullying because of their sexual orientation or weight.” Currently, 45 other states have enacted anti-bullying measures, but advocates believe that most laws leave too much discretion to the schools and see the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights as a model for insuring compliance and accountability. For instance, the bill provides that “a school administrator who fails to initiate or conduct an investigation of an incident, or who should have known of an incident and fails to take action, is subject to discipline” and requires the Department of Education to “establish a formal protocol to be used by the offices of the executive county superintendent of schools in investigating complaints that school districts are not adhering to the provisions of law governing harassment, intimidation, or bullying in the schools.”

A spokes person for Gov. Chris Christie said “the administration would look at the bill if it’s passed - and given its bipartisan sponsors, that seems likely.” “While Christie hasn’t commented on the bill, he did express sympathy to Clementi’s parents and anger over the circumstances of the suicide,” the Washington Post notes.

Wonk Room

Civil Rights Leader Dismisses The Conservative US Commission on Civil Rights’ Conference As ‘A Sham’

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 14-09-2010

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reynoldsToday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a government-fundedone-day national conference” called “A New Era: Defining Civil Rights in the 21st Century.” Created by the Civil Rights Act of1957, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is a “bipartisan, independent commission of the U.S. federal government” intended to serve as a bastion against discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin.”

The final panel of the conference, titled “The Future of the Civil Rights Commission,” will debate whether the Commission “has outlived its usefulness.” Panelists will discuss whether “it is appropriate for the federal government to take the lead” on certain civil rights issues.

During the Bush administration, conservatives “who had long opposed the commission’s work” used “a controversial maneuver” to stack the commission with six “like-minded commissioners.” This conservative majority lambasted the health care reform bill for supporting minority doctors and urged Congress to vote down the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, steering the commission’s work towards a path that, as one of the two Democratic commissioners put it, “aims to ‘dismantle the civil rights program that exists throughout this country.’”

Leading civil rights organizations have rebuked the Commission as “a political arm of the conservative movement in America.” Yesterday, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Wade Henderson told Talking Points Memo that he refuses to attend the conference because “it’s a sham”:

“I’m not attending the conference. I think it’s a sham,” Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told TPM. [...]

Henderson said that as the period of conservative control over the commission is set to end this year, some of the conservative commissioners — including Chairman Gerald Reynolds — are grasping at straws.

“This is Gerald Reynolds’ last ditch effort to give legitimacy and luster to his failed tenure,” Henderson said.

Reynold’s “failed tenure” results from his diametric opposition to the purpose of the Commission. The original, temporary Commission fought for its permanency because “no where in the federal government [is] there an agency charged” with the “invaluable function” of “the continuous appraisal of the status of civil rights.” However, Reynolds told the Washington Times that “in a lot of areas, it’s not the proper role for the federal government to take care of” disadvantaged groups “but instead for local governments, churches and other community organizations.” Reynold’s sentiment echoes that of several Republican candidates who, as ThinkProgress’s Scott Keyes notes, are “eager to denigrate the federal government’s role in protecting civil rights.”

Further highlighting the dominance of the Commission’s conservative viewpoint, five of the conservative-leaning commissioners will be hosting panels at today’s conference. The two Democrats and the sole Republican who criticized the Commission’s attention to the manufactured right-wing New Black Panthers “scandal” are not moderating any panels. And two of the three panelists debating the future of the Commission believe that the Commission is “a complete waste of resources” that “should be disbanded.” The conference also features Roger Clegg, a former DOJ’s General Civil Rights Division attorney under Presidents Reagan and Bush who supports racial profiling and now works for a “small vehemently anti-affirmative action group.”

Think Progress

Sen. Orrin Hatch: ‘I’d Be The First To Stand Up For Their Rights’ To Build A Mosque Near Ground Zero

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 30-08-2010

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While virtually every Republican and conservative leader has come out strongly against the construction of the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York City, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) strongly defended the organizers’ right to build the center today, saying, “what made this country great is we have religious freedom.” In an interview with Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City, Hatch — who has long been a proponent of religious liberty — said it shouldn’t “make a difference” that the majority of Americans don’t support the center’s construction, because religious freedom is too important, and noted that the proposed site is actually “a few blocks away” from Ground Zero.

And countering those on the right who have implicated Islam in terrorism, or who have tried to paint it as anything less than a legitimate religion, Hatch said that “there are Muslims killed on 9/11 too,” and said, “we know [Islam is] a great religion”:

HATCH: Let’s be honest about it, in the First Amendment, religious freedom, religious expression, that really express matters to the Constitution. So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so. The only question is are they being insensitive to those who suffered the loss of loved ones? We know there are Muslims killed on 9/11 too and we know it’s a great religion.But as far as their right to build that mosque, they have that right.

I just think what’s made this country great is we have religious freedom. That’s not the only thing, but it’s one of the most important things in the Constitution. [...]

There’s a question of whether it’s too close to the 9/11 area, but it’s a few blocks away, it isn’t right there. … And there’s a huge, I think, lack of support throughout the country for Islam to build that mosque there, but that should not make a difference if they decide to do it. I’d be the first to stand up for their rights.

Watch it:

In defending Muslims’ right to build the community center, Hatch, who is Mormon, noted that his religion has faced its own opposition the building its houses of worship. Nonetheless, fellow Mormons like Fox News host Glenn Beck, and disappointingly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have come out against the mosque in New York. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is also Mormon, has been “noticeably absent” from the mosque debate.

Think Progress

More on the Expansion of ‘Human Rights’

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 30-08-2010

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By Roger Pilon

POLITICO Arena asks a second question today:

Is Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer right to complain about the Obama State Department’s inclusion of Arizona’s new immigration law in its report to the U.N. on human rights conditions in the U.S.?

My response:

Quite apart from Gov. Brewer’s complaint, the Obama State Department’s first report on human rights conditions in the U.S., submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council last week pursuant to a U.N. mandate that members conduct self-assessments every four years, reads like a politically correct campaign brochure, touting everything from the administration’s stimulus spending to ObamaCare to financial reform legislation as promoting “human rights.”

We’re told, for example, that America falls short on “fairness, equality, and dignity” in such areas as education, health, and housing. And what’s the evidence? Among other things, it’s that unemployment for blacks and Hispanics is higher than for whites, that there’s racial and ethnic disparity in home ownership rates, and that “whites are twice as likely as Native Americans to have a college degree.” Or consider this claim: “Asian-American men suffer from stomach cancer 114 percent more often than non-Hispanic white men.” That’s a “human rights” problem?  

What the administration has done here is conflate real human rights — the rights protected under the U.N. Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which the U.S. is a party — with specious “rights” — the claims found in the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights — which the Senate has refused to ratify. And all of this is submitted in a doument to be scrutinized by such human rights exemplars on the council as Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba.  

After the U.S. ambassador walked out of the predecessor U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 2004, following the admission of Sudan to the commission in the midst of ethnic cleansing in Darfur, we did not join the commission’s replacement in 2006, the new U.N. Council on Human Rights, not wanting to lend that body any credibility. Last year, however, the Obama administration joined the council — part of its outreach to the world. Enough said.

Cato @ Liberty