Israel does not suppress Palestinian civil society – opinion
Exaggerated comparisons with oppressive regimes seeking to silence critics are unwarranted on this issue for several key reasons. First, dozens of NGOs – Palestinian, Israeli and international – fiercely criticize Israel, but they, with the exception of the six in question, do not qualify as terrorist organizations. Second, there is a history of terrorist activity from the six organizations tagged last week, and this information has been made public.
For years, the Israeli government, through the Ministry of Strategic Affairs (now merged with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), has provided documents on the connection of the PFLP to many Palestinian civil society organizations, including Al- Haq, Addameer and DCI-P.
Evidence previously released by the ministry detailed how Addameer, one of six organizations, had board members, legal staff, a researcher, a financial officer, a co-founder, and a chief executive who are also PFLP terrorists, some of whom focused on recruiting and acts of terror while working at Addameer. Several Addameer employees or officials have also been convicted of murder for terrorist attacks they committed, such as Addameer’s former CFO Sameer Arbid and Addameer board member Yacoub Odeh.
Arbid, who was involved in a recent terrorist attack that killed a 17-year-old Israeli, was also employed by the Union of Agricultural Labor Committees (UAWC), another organization of the Six, along with his colleague and PFLP member Razak. Praj. An employee of the Bisan Research and Development Center, Ataraf Rimawi, was also implicated in the same terrorist attack.
In the case of Al-Haq, another NGO of the six newly designated terrorist groups, its director, Shawan Jabarin, was convicted and served a prison sentence for terrorist recruitment for the PFLP. Jabarin also sits on the board of DCI-P, another of the six organizations, along with many other PFLP members and convicted PFLP terrorists.
This evidence was compelling enough at the time that the EU was concerned about the misuse of funds, suspecting that money was being diverted to terrorist organizations (PFLP), as well as for terrorist activities. The EU demanded that Palestinian NGOs that receive funding must first certify that they will not support terrorist organizations. Instead of complying, incredibly 130 Palestinian NGOs have refused to give up their links with terrorist groups. In recent years, some EU Member States have even cut funding to these same NGOs to the detriment of PFLP payments.
Now, thanks to a lengthy intelligence investigation, the Israeli government has finally designated these six NGOs as fronts for PFLP terrorist activities. It turned out that they had embezzled international funding and falsified documents to provide financial assistance to the PFLP. One wonders how the EU, US, UN or any other body could have feigned such shock and outrage over this when they themselves voiced their concerns on precisely these issues during the course of in recent years? The “indignation” of the United States, the EU and the UN is presented as a fabricated publicity stunt.
While all of the evidence against the six organizations has yet to be released, one thing can be said with certainty: it is not an attack on civil society to point to NGOs as terrorist fronts when they abuse them. their status as an NGO to finance and aid terrorism. In fact, it is a tactic known to terrorist organizations to use NGOs as cover. For example, Hezbollah’s many fronts in Lebanon are known to be official affiliates of the Iranian-backed terrorist group.
Dozens of Palestinian NGOs are working against the State of Israel in various ways without funding internationally recognized terrorist organizations. There is a reason why these six were nominated and others not – and this alone shows that this is not an attack on Palestinian civil society intended to “suppress voices against the occupation”. but rather to stop the funding of violent terrorist groups who are actively plotting attacks against Israelis. If Israel’s goal were simply to silence critics, there would be a very different reality for organizations like B’tselem, Breaking the Silence, and even international organizations like Human Rights Watch.
No organization, regardless of nationality, should get a free pass to help violent terrorist organizations. To claim that there is no history of these organizations’ affiliations and assistance to the PFLP in recent years is to ignore the evidence that has already been published. Israel has the right to designate these organizations as fronts of the PFLP, and the international community should respect that and stop funding them.
The author is the CEO of Social Lite Creative, LLC.