Commentary Magazine


Topic: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

When Dedicating a Synagogue Is a War Crime

Yes, really. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights — one of a myriad of NGOs waging a war of delegitimization against Israel — has issued a press release declaring that:

The inauguration of a Jewish synagogue in East Jerusalem [sic] is considered a form of settlement activity, and thus constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law.

Of course, this was not the inauguration of a synagogue — it was the rededication of a synagogue that dates to the Ottoman empire and was destroyed by the Jordanians during their occupation of Jerusalem. The Hurva synagogue was built in the 1860′s (even then on the ruins of a synagogue that had been built during the previous century) and demolished intentionally by the Arab Legion in 1948, during the War of Independence. Oh, and I almost forgot: it’s not in “East Jerusalem” — it’s in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Just a stroll away from the Western Wall, whose existence by this logic is also a war crime.

But this is not just another anecdote in the larger story of the derangement of the human-rights world. It is an example of how American and European money is funding the delegitimization campaign against Israel and the spreading of false war-crimes charges. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is bankrolled in part by the Open Society Institute (George Soros) and the Ford Foundation. (Click here for the complete list, including the European donors.) It would be time well spent for U.S.-based Jewish organizations to apply pressure to OSI and the Ford Foundation on the question of why they’re funding an organization claiming that the revival of a centuries-old Jerusalem synagogue is a war crime.

Yes, really. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights — one of a myriad of NGOs waging a war of delegitimization against Israel — has issued a press release declaring that:

The inauguration of a Jewish synagogue in East Jerusalem [sic] is considered a form of settlement activity, and thus constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law.

Of course, this was not the inauguration of a synagogue — it was the rededication of a synagogue that dates to the Ottoman empire and was destroyed by the Jordanians during their occupation of Jerusalem. The Hurva synagogue was built in the 1860′s (even then on the ruins of a synagogue that had been built during the previous century) and demolished intentionally by the Arab Legion in 1948, during the War of Independence. Oh, and I almost forgot: it’s not in “East Jerusalem” — it’s in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Just a stroll away from the Western Wall, whose existence by this logic is also a war crime.

But this is not just another anecdote in the larger story of the derangement of the human-rights world. It is an example of how American and European money is funding the delegitimization campaign against Israel and the spreading of false war-crimes charges. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is bankrolled in part by the Open Society Institute (George Soros) and the Ford Foundation. (Click here for the complete list, including the European donors.) It would be time well spent for U.S.-based Jewish organizations to apply pressure to OSI and the Ford Foundation on the question of why they’re funding an organization claiming that the revival of a centuries-old Jerusalem synagogue is a war crime.

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You’re Not Going to Believe This, But…

Yet another “human rights” NGO has been caught trafficking in made-up statistics. As Yaacov Lozowick and Elder of Ziyon report, Addameer, a Palestinian “prisoners’ rights” NGO, has been inflating the number of Palestinians it claims have been arrested by Israel to a point of total absurdity:

For Addameer’s numbers to be accurate, Israel would be arresting some 10,000 people a month. Yet the PCHR [Palestinian Centre for Human Rights -- no PR operation for Israel by any stretch of the imagination] says that the number of arrests was 23 last week, 26 the previous week, 23 the week before and 17 the week before that – for a total of less than 100 people a month.

And B’Tselem says that “about 6,831 Palestinians were held in Israel as of the end of December ’09.” How could only 6,800 Palestinians be held in Israel if the IDF is arresting 10,000 Palestinians per month?

Addameer not only made up the initial numbers but they keep grossly inflating them, confident that their anti-Israel audience will lap them up without question.

Precisely right: click here for an example of a prominent anti-Israel blog spreading the lie. (Naturally, this site is also the first link in the “Daily Reads” section of Stephen Walt’s blog.) This claim appears in the Goldstone Report and has been cited by everyone from UN “Special Rapporteur” John Dugard to Jimmy Carter to Time magazine.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the international press and NGOs such as Addameer: the NGOs supply reporters with context, anecdotes, and “data” they can use to bolster the preferred narrative, which is Israeli cruelty and Palestinian victimhood. In exchange, the press sanitizes the NGOs with credulous and often celebratory media attention, transforming what are in fact small and disreputable groups of political activists into sources of objective information. It remains true that hacks will always cover for hacks.

Yet another “human rights” NGO has been caught trafficking in made-up statistics. As Yaacov Lozowick and Elder of Ziyon report, Addameer, a Palestinian “prisoners’ rights” NGO, has been inflating the number of Palestinians it claims have been arrested by Israel to a point of total absurdity:

For Addameer’s numbers to be accurate, Israel would be arresting some 10,000 people a month. Yet the PCHR [Palestinian Centre for Human Rights -- no PR operation for Israel by any stretch of the imagination] says that the number of arrests was 23 last week, 26 the previous week, 23 the week before and 17 the week before that – for a total of less than 100 people a month.

And B’Tselem says that “about 6,831 Palestinians were held in Israel as of the end of December ’09.” How could only 6,800 Palestinians be held in Israel if the IDF is arresting 10,000 Palestinians per month?

Addameer not only made up the initial numbers but they keep grossly inflating them, confident that their anti-Israel audience will lap them up without question.

Precisely right: click here for an example of a prominent anti-Israel blog spreading the lie. (Naturally, this site is also the first link in the “Daily Reads” section of Stephen Walt’s blog.) This claim appears in the Goldstone Report and has been cited by everyone from UN “Special Rapporteur” John Dugard to Jimmy Carter to Time magazine.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the international press and NGOs such as Addameer: the NGOs supply reporters with context, anecdotes, and “data” they can use to bolster the preferred narrative, which is Israeli cruelty and Palestinian victimhood. In exchange, the press sanitizes the NGOs with credulous and often celebratory media attention, transforming what are in fact small and disreputable groups of political activists into sources of objective information. It remains true that hacks will always cover for hacks.

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