[News] Why NGO Monitor is attacking The Electronic Intifada
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 1 10:34:50 EST 2010
Why NGO Monitor is attacking The Electronic Intifada
Report, The Electronic Intifada, 30 November 2010
NGO Monitor's campaign of public defamation against The Electronic
Intifada focuses on support the publication receives from a Dutch foundation.
NGO Monitor has launched a campaign targeting a Dutch foundation's
financial support to The Electronic Intifada, accusing the
publication among other things of "anti-Semitism." NGO Monitor is an
extreme right-wing group with close ties to the Israeli government,
military, West Bank settlers, a man convicted of misleading the US
Congress, and to notoriously Islamophobic individuals and
organizations in the United States.
NGO Monitor's campaign of public defamation against The Electronic
Intifada has focused on a grant the publication receives from the
Dutch foundation ICCO. NGO Monitor has pressured the Dutch
government, which subsidizes ICCO, to end its support for The
Electronic Intifada. Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has
apparently already lent public credence to NGO Monitor's campaign
against The Electronic Intifada, an independent publication
established in February 2001 and read by thousands daily.
NGO Monitor's attack on The Electronic Intifada is part of a
well-financed, Israeli-government endorsed effort to silence
reporting about and criticism of Israel by attacking so-called
"delegitimizers" -- those who speak about well-documented human
rights abuses, support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), or
promote full equality for Palestinians. Last February, The Electronic
Intifada reported that a leading Israeli think-tank had recommended a
campaign of "sabotage" against Israel's critics as a matter of state
strategy: "sabotage" and "attack" the global justice movement," 16
NGO Monitor has already been at the forefront of a campaign to crush
internal dissent by Jewish groups in Israel that want to see Israel's
human rights record improved.
The Jerusalem-based organization poses as a project concerned with
accountability for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), but as
Israeli human rights activist and journalist Didi Remez has stated,
"NGO Monitor is not an objective watchdog: It is a partisan operation
that suppresses its perceived ideological adversaries through the
sophisticated use of McCarthyite techniques -- blacklisting, guilt by
association and selective filtering of facts"
on the transparency," Haaretz, 26 November 2009).
In a 6 November article in The Jerusalem Post, NGO Monitor president
Gerald Steinberg revealed that his group was part of a new "Israel
Action Network" established by the Jewish Federations of North
America (JFNA) and the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA)
the tables on BDS," The Jerusalem Post, 6 November 2010).
The JFNA is funding the Israel Action Network to the tune of $6
million over the next three years to target "delegitimization," which
according to JFNA president Jerry Silverman, "Israeli leaders
identify ... as the second most dangerous threat to Israel, after
Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons
JCPA teaming to fight delegitimization of Israel," JTA, 24 October 2010).
NGO Monitor's and the Israel Action Network's goals appear to be
nothing less than to shut down independent media such as The
Electronic Intifada, as well as human rights advocacy groups in
Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and around the world.
In his 6 November article, Steinberg specifically named The
Electronic Intifada and its co-founder and executive director Ali
Abunimah, as well as Sabeel, the Palestinian Christian ecumenical
justice and peace movement, and its founder Reverend Naim Ateek, as
targets of the campaign.
Steinberg explained, "To emerge victorious in this political war, the
[Israel Action] network must be armed with detailed information about
the opposition, and implement an effective counter strategy on this
basis. This involves distributing information to college students and
active community members, so they can name and shame the groups that
lead and fund demonization."
Steinberg goes on to boast, "NGO Monitor has demonstrated that this
approach can be very effective. Based on detailed research, the
government of Canada cut funding ostensibly provided for human rights
and development, but which was actually used for hatred and
incitement. Similar discussions are under way in European governments
regarding funding for some of the more poisonous NGOs involved in BDS."
In becoming the latest target of NGO Monitor's defamation and
sabotage efforts, The Electronic Intifada joins previously targeted
organizations including Amnesty International, Doctors Without
Borders, Human Rights Watch, Adalah, Al-Haq, Mada al-Carmel as well
as Israeli groups such as B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, HaMoked and
New Israel Fund, among dozens of others.
NGO Monitor -- as a glance at its publications reveals --
characterizes any documentation of, or call for an end to Israel's
systematic human rights abuses, violent colonization of the occupied
West Bank including Jerusalem, or its siege and amply documented war
crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza as "hate," "incitement"
Attacking funding to undermine free speech and thought
In 2007, NGO Monitor began targeting the Canadian international
development and human rights organization Alternatives which did
development work in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. After a
determined campaign by pro-Israel advocates, Canada's Conservative
government cut funding to Alternatives and several other groups that
worked on Palestinian rights
neoconservative turn," The Electronic Intifada, 26 February 2010).
Earlier this year, Canada's government-supported International
Development Research Centre canceled research grants to Mada
al-Carmel -- an independent research center in Haifa, the only one of
its kind in Israel, which focuses on the rights, needs and future of
Palestinian citizens. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the
grants which were for research on "Arab political participation in
Israel and the future of Israeli democracy," and "Palestinian women
in Israel and the political economy" may have been canceled under
pressure applied by the Israeli foreign ministry on the Canadian
Foreign Ministry lobby to stop Canadian funding of Israeli Arab
group?," Haaretz, 19 August 2010).
Turning the fire on The Electronic Intifada
On 26 November, The Jerusalem Post published an article by Benjamin
will look into NGO funding of anti-Semitic website."
According to Weinthal, "The Dutch government has been funding the
Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation [ICCO], a Dutch
aid organization that finances the Electronic Intifada website that,
NGO Monitor told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, is anti-Semitic and
frequently compares Israeli policies with those of the Nazi regime."
However, The Post does not cite any specific examples from almost
12,000 articles published by The Electronic Intifada since 2001 to
substantiate these lurid accusations.
With its reporting and independent commentary, The Electronic
Intifada has built a global reputation since its founding, and states
on its <http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1387.shtml>website
that "our views on the conflict are based firmly on universal
principles of international law and human rights conventions, and our
reporting is built on a solid foundation of documented evidence and
The Post quotes Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal stating, "I will
look into the matter personally. If it appears that the
government-subsidized NGO ICCO does fund Electronic Intifada, it will
have a serious problem with me."
If the quotation from Foreign Minister Rosenthal is accurate (which
cannot be taken for granted given the errors and false statements
throughout Weinthal's article), it should be noted that The
Electronic Intifada was never contacted by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of the Netherlands before the minister apparently went on the
record lending support to the allegations made by NGO Monitor.
The Jerusalem Post also charges that "EI executive director Ali
Abunimah is a leader in delegitimization and demonization campaigns
against Israel. In his travels and speaking engagements, facilitated
by Electronic Intifada's budget, he calls for a one-state solution to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and routinely uses false apartheid rhetoric."
The Jerusalem Post never attempted to contact The Electronic Intifada
or Abunimah to verify any of these claims. Had it done so, it would
have been informed that none of Abunimah's speaking engagements or
travel has ever been funded by The Electronic Intifada's budget, but
all such engagements are paid for by the groups hosting the events
which are organized and handled entirely separately from the publication.
Since 2006, about one-third of The Electronic Intifada's funding has
come from ICCO. The majority of the publication's funding has come
from direct donations from readers, and another small part from other
private foundations. The Electronic Intifada has never received funds
from any government. The Electronic Intifada's total expenses
amounted to $149,208 in 2008 and $183,760 in 2009, as reported on the
publicly available Form 990 filed annually with the US Internal
Revenue Service by the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society,
Inc., the nonprofit organization of which The Electronic Intifada is
a program service.
NGO Monitor, Israel's government, military and the far-right
NGO Monitor is closely tied to Israel's far-right, its government and
military as well as leading anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim
activists in the United States.
NGO Monitor states on its website that it is "a joint venture of the
Institute for Contemporary Affairs, founded jointly with the Wechsler
Family Foundation, and B'nai B'rith International."
As The Electronic Intifada reported in 2005, the Institute of
Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center on Public Affairs is a
think-tank providing a home for Israel's military and political
elite. Among the panoply of Israeli officers who speak and write for
the Institute is Doron Almog, who notoriously chose to remain on
board an El Al aircraft at London's Heathrow airport and flee back to
Israel rather than face a pending arrest warrant for alleged war
crimes while he was a division commander in the occupied Gaza Strip
should not be taken seriously," 18 October 2005).
Among NGO Monitor's International Advisory Board are some unusual
choices for an organization focused on accountability. In addition to
Alan Dershowitz and Elie Wiesel (who has gone on record saying he can
never criticize Israel), there is former CIA chief and pro-Iraq-war
activist James Woolsey, and Elliott Abrams. Abrams was convicted in
1991 of withholding information from the United States Congress in
the Iran-Contra affair in which he was deeply involved as an official
in the Reagan administration. As deputy national security advisor
during the administration of George W. Bush, Abrams was the architect
of covert US policies intended to overturn the January 2006
Palestinian legislative elections by arming Palestinian militias
opposed to Hamas, which had won the vote. Abrams' policies led to a
Palestinian civil war that cost hundreds of lives (David Rose,
Gaza Bombshell," Vanity Fair, April 2008).
NGO Monitor's "Legal Advisory Board" includes former Israeli
ambassador Alan Baker, who as an Israeli government official spent
years publicly defending Israel's violations of international law,
including its settlements in occupied territory, which are nominally
opposed by all EU governments, including the Netherlands.
Cementing the link even more closely, NGO Monitor recently published
a joint report with its partner the Institute for Zionist Strategies
Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs."
The Institute for Zionist Strategies, as Didi Remez has pointed out,
is led by Israel Harel, a founder of the fanatical Gush Emunim
Calling for "accountability" but only for others
While NGO Monitor is increasingly frank that its goal is to shut down
open discussion of Israel's human rights abuses, it claims that it
exists to promote "accountability" and transparency. But this
transparency does not extend to itself or its political allies.
Some information is available about NGO Monitor's funding, but the
organization does not release the names of all its donors nor the
amounts they gave -- even as it insists that others should do so. In
addition to the Wechsler Foundation, NGO Monitor lists among its
Daniel Pipes' Middle East Forum Education Project. Pipes has been
widely criticized for purveying anti-Muslim and anti-Arab propaganda,
including by United States Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who opposed
Pipes' 2003 appointment by President George W. Bush to the board of
the United States Institute for Peace
Pipes nomination stalled in committee," The Baltimore Chronicle, 23 July 2003).
NGO Monitor also lists a US tax-exempt organization called
<http://www.afngom.org/>American Friends of NGO Monitor (AFNGOM)
among its "major donors." While AFNGOM received its recognition as a
tax-exempt non-profit in early 2009, there was -- as of late 2010 --
still no legally-required, public Form 990 for 2009 available for the
group on the Guidestar.org website, the information clearinghouse for
US non-profits (According to
a 990 should appear on its website approximately two months after being filed).
Among AFNGOM's board members is Rita Emerson. Emerson and her husband
Steven Emerson are prominent in the US pro-Israel, anti-Muslim
community and often make donations to pro-Israel causes. They jointly
fund the "Emerson Fellowships" for the anti-Palestinian advocacy
group Stand With Us (which works closely with the Israeli military to
organize speaking tours for Israeli soldiers on North American
college campuses) and are both substantial donors to the Technion
Israel Institute of Technology. "Their most passionate concerns
include cancer research, the defense of Israel on campus and in the
media, and the struggle against the global Jihad," is how the couple
was described in the program of a 2007 dinner for the American
The Emersons have done very well financially from incitement against
Muslims. A recent investigative report by The Tennessean newspaper
found that in 2008 Steven Emerson paid his own for-profit company
$3.4 million in fees from a non-profit charity he founded, which,
according to the newspaper "solicits money by telling donors they're
in imminent danger from Muslims." According to The Tennessean,
Emerson's non-profit effectively acts as a front for a lucrative
crusaders make millions spreading fear," The Tennessean, 24 October
2010). Unusually, the non-profit's
<http://www.tennessean.com/assets/pdf/DN1658731022.PDF>990 forms do
not list any staff, board members or salaries except for Steven
Emerson who is the organization's sole officer.
Yet a search of NGO Monitor's website found no page dedicated to
exposing the lack of transparency of the Emersons' multimillion
dollar "non-profit" business.
NGO Monitor evinces a similar lack of concern for transparency when
it comes to extremist Israeli groups. As Didi Remez points out,
"Hundreds of millions of dollars in Israeli taxpayer money and US tax
exemptions, mostly hidden from public view, are the driving force of
the settlement enterprise," including organizations such as Elad
which are behind the current efforts of Israeli settlers to expel
Palestinians from certain neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem
on the transparency").
Remez notes that while most of the Israeli dissenting and human
rights groups NGO Monitor targets already meet high standards of
fiscal transparency, the settler groups do not. Settler groups, Remez
observes, "depend on financial opacity for continued operations." NGO
Monitor has never said a word about it.
With international movements in solidarity with Palestine --
including BDS -- gaining steam, Israel's leaders and apologists are
becoming more desperate and unscrupulous than ever. Nothing
illustrates this better than NGO Monitor attacking funding sources
for media and human rights organizations like The Electronic Intifada
and so many other groups doing urgently needed work.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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