Netanyahu Takes His Siege Against Human Rights NGOs to the
By Max Blumenthal, MaxBlumenthal.com
Posted on March 17, 2010, Printed on March 19, 2010
Editor's Note: Scroll to the bottom for a recent interview with Max Blumenthal by GritTV's Laura Flanders.
As the anti-Goldstone, human rights-bashing Lawfare Project’s opening event on March 11 wrapped up, I asked its chairman,
“Why didn’t you invite any speakers with an alternative perspective?” Franke asked Schizer.
His reply was curt. “We invited one or two but they couldn’t make it,” Schizer claimed before hurrying away.
Schizer was understandably nervous about his exposure. After all, he had just presided over a day-long conference during which Israeli human rights workers were labeled as traitors while Judge Richard Goldstone and human rights groups were compared to “anti-Semitic street gangs.” After several speakers had harshly condemned legal efforts against the construction of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Schizer appeared beside them to lend his credibility to their views.
Schizer attacks Goldstone
Held in the ornate NY County Lawyers Association meeting room in downtown Manhattan, where the walls were adorned with portraits of the pioneers of international jurisprudence, the Lawfare Project’s conference had the look of a non-partisan academic conference. However, the event was organized by a network of American Zionist groups and conservative operatives with apparent encouragement from the Israeli government.
As Scott Horton noticed at Harper’s, the Lawfare Project’s rollout event followed a remarkably similar conference in
The presence of high-level Israeli officials like UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev at the Lawfare Project conference suggested that the Netanyahu administration was the hidden hand behind the event. If so, the Israeli government has deployed its American Jewish allies to take the fight across the
I arrived late in the day but just in time for a panel moderated by Pat Robertson’s longtime legal counsel, Jay Sekulow. Sekulow, a convert from Judaism to evangelical Christianity who has spent his career representing anti-gay and anti-abortion clients, appears to be playing a key role in the Lawfare Project.
Through his American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Sekulow reaps millions of dollars each year from Christian conservative donors. He uses that money to pay himself upwards of $600,000, provide a lavish lifestyle for his family, and procure the services of the PR firm, 5WPR, which represents other upstanding clients like Girls Gone Wild and the pro-settler Hebron Fund.
5WPR was handling the press list for the Lawfare Project and shuttling its speakers to and from media appearances. 5W Senior Account Executive Maggie Davis told me that through the firm’s relationship with Sekulow, she was arranging media appearances for Brooke Goldstein, founder of the Children’s Rights Institute, which happens to share a domain address with the Lawfare Project. Both websites were registered by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which played a direct role in planning the conference. Goldstein is now the lead spokesperson for the Lawfare Project, according to 5W’s
NGO Monitor legal advisor Anne Herzberg was featured prominently at the conference. During a panel discussion, she accused the European Union of “pouring hundreds of millions into these NGO’s…that are actually in favor of a one-state solution.” Without naming those NGO’s or explaining why accepting foreign money was such a crime, Herzberg boasted of suing human rights groups to force them disclose their donors. She accused Israeli NGO’s like B’tselem of causing “a breach of sovereignty” against Israel by contributing data to the Goldstone Report — an insinuation that Israeli human rights workers were traitors.
An NGO Monitor report was distributed to conference attendees identifying groups supposedly promoting “post-colonial ideology” as “anti-state,” “anti-democracy” and “anti-American.” The report identified NGO Monitor’s top targets: the
The attack on Al Haq highlights part of NGO’s Monitor’s not-so-hidden agenda: to allow the settler movement to usurp land in the
NGO Monitor has also targeted US-based human rights group. It has gone after Human Rights Watch on the basis of the group’s contribution of reporting to the Goldstone Report and because Goldstone was at one point a HRW board member. The Center for Constitutional Rights was singled out because its founder, Michael Ratner, went on the recent Viva Palestina mission with Code Pink. None of the factual documentation these groups released was challenged by the NGO Monitor report or in Herzberg’s presentation. Instead, the groups and their leadership are being targeted with a scattershot of accusations that recall McCarthyism in its crudest form.
As a consequence of his zeal, NGO Monitor director Gerald Steinberg was hauled into an Israeli court this month and forced to apologize for claiming a Palestinian human rights group “justified violence.” Yossi Alpher, a former advisor to Ehud Barak, has condemned Steinberg’s activities, writing that NGO Monitor “seems dead set on eliminating human rights monitoring of
The NGO Monitor report and the speakers at the Lawfare Project event expressed alarm about the effectiveness of the global BDS movement and its success in exposing apartheid practices in
Francois-Henri Briard, a conservative French attorney, voiced his outrage that the BDS movement had successfully pressured the French company Veolia to pull out of an Israeli light rail project that would have connected illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem. He called the initiative against the rail line “an attack on Israeli sovereignty” even though it specifically targeted the settlement enterprise across the Green Line.
Jeremy Rabkin, an outspoken neoconservative law professor, echoed Herzberg’s smearing of human rights groups as treasonous. “These human rights groups we keep hearing about are not loyal to their country or to democracy, but to some strange world order,” he declared.
Not to be outdone, David Matas, the senior legal counsel to B’nai Brith
Matas’s invective against international law was ironic in light of the fact that his most notable court case called upon international legal bodies to prosecute
Matas has defined genocide as merely stating “the intent to kill” a group of people. What’s more, he has justified prosecuting Jiang by invoking International Criminal Court statutes governing the prosecution of high government officials who did not directly commit crimes against humanity but may have allowed them to occur through specific administrative measures. Couldn’t these statutes also be applied against the Israeli government officials who oversaw the assault on
Matas’s invocation of international law to prosecute Chinese officials while attacking it to protect Israeli officials highlighted the underlying cynicism of the Lawfare Project. Indeed, the project has nothing to do with combatting the abuse of international law per se; it is an ideologically-driven effort to intimidate anyone who stands in the way of
According to 5W’s
Max Blumenthal, author of Republican Gomorrah, joins Laura Flanders of GritTV to talk about recent news: the Obama administration's spat with Israel over settlements, the recent California Republican party convention, and the new "coffee party" movement.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs