A lie travels around the world while the truth looks for a Wi-Fi connection. Sometimes, it finds it.
This blog’s favorite fibber organization, NGO Monitor – you may remember them from such classic favorites as distributing Hasbara lies about the UN Human Rights Commission, using a Trojan horse inside Wikipedia, as well as just stupid negligence – pounced on the tunnel that was found this week near Ein Hashlosha. The organization quickly took to twitter, saying “So, #Hamas terror tunnel was built w/concrete from #Israel, sent b/c of UN & NGO pressure. Thanks @Gisha_Access“. Lies have the speed advantage: in a very short time, the libel – if I were to use NGO Monitor’s rhetoric I’d write ‘blood libel,’ was quoted in the Jewish Press as if it were a matter of fact. That is, after all, how libel is done.
And then, reality came knocking on the hasbara organization’s door. The tunnel, says the IDF, was started about a year and a half ago and finished about two months ago. It is entirely made out of concrete. The problem is that Israel did not transfer cement to the private sector in the Gaza Strip until September 17th, that is, less than a month ago. The cement used for building the tunnel didn’t come to Gaza from Israel. It came through the tunnels. But these are just facts and NGO Monitor isn’t about facts. They’re about distributing Hasbara lies.
The facts, of course, point to a massive hole in the entire Israeli Gaza siege concept. Until recently Hamas had no trouble getting anything it wanted: cement, steel, explosives. Gaza residents got used to relying on the tunnel economy. The sector that got screwed by the Israeli siege was the third sector (non-profits). Third sector organizations can’t buy building supplies for a school they’re funding through the tunnels because these organizations naturally need receipts, and as it happens, the smugglers don’t provide any. The organizations had to make do with very few supplies, under heavy supervision by Israel’s security forces. Not to mention, considering the “terror tunnel” sat around for two months, doing nothing, one might wonder just how much of a “terror tunnel” it really was. If terrorism is all Hamas cares about, why did nothing happen? Could it be that the other side is somewhat rational and kept the tunnel to be used as a bargaining chip in some future altercation?
But I digress. The issue here is the policy of lies used by an organization that pretends it’s watching human rights NGOs, while making sure it keeps its own money trail to itself. These lies aren’t limited to Gisha and the attempt to incriminate it in involvement in the Hamas tunnel.
Last Thursday, Yesh Din – full disclosure here: the undersigned provides Yesh Din with blog writing services for a fee, and has been known to hobnob with the organization’s staff members at meetings, and sometimes even at the local pub, and considers some organization staff members to be close friends – published a report about the absence of Israeli legislation against war crimes and the effect this absence has on the judgments issued by courts-martial. The report is available here.
Immediately after the report was published, NGO Monitor quickly issued a press release that contained a bald-faced lie: it argued that the report had been commissioned by the European Union and that the EU had simply contracted Yesh Din to write it. This is utter nonsense. Yes, the EU did fund some of the report, but as one can see on page 3 of the report, (document) – this is no secret.
However, the EU didn’t commission it. On the contrary, Yesh Din, like many other human rights NGOs, decided on a project and then went looking for funding. The EU agreed to provide such. The author of the report, Lior Yavne, pointed out to me that the EU’s involvement was confined to making sure that the money they provided was spent appropriately and as required. They did not know what the report would contain and certainly did not influence it. By the way, NGO Monitor claims that the EU provides two-thirds of Yesh Din’s funding. This is also untrue. A look at Yesh Din’s donor list (document, and while we’re on the subject, I’d appreciate a similarly accurate and detailed list of NGO Monitor donors), reveals that in 2012, it received NIS 4,508,420 million. The EU’s share was 1.19 million, that is, a little more than a quarter. A quarter, a third, iceberg, Goldberg, what’s the difference, they’re all anti-Semites. Forget about the facts.
The most interesting fact is that NGO Monitor has nothing to say about the report itself. All it says is that it was “commissioned” by the EU, presuming that this libel is enough, that all it takes is to draw a line between a human rights NGO and the EU, because, in the alternate universe where NGO Monitor lurks, there’s no need to even say that the EU is a malevolent anti-Semitic organization whose purpose is to destroy Israel. It’s obvious. As far as NGO Monitor – and a large, ignorant, contingent of the Israeli public – are concerned, a connection to the EU is enough to make you a member of the communist party in the U.S. in the fifties. For NGO Monitor, this has become a method. They don’t criticize the reports any more. They just scream that someone Ben Dror Yemini (a right-wing Israeli journalist) doesn’t like gave money to the organization that wrote the report, and think that’s enough.
If they had bothered to read the report (and they didn’t, there wasn’t enough time between the publication and their response, believe me, I read it), they would have seen that its main conclusion, which is that “considering the practice of the Courts-Martial and the shortage of material offenses in Israeli domestic law, special offenses of war crimes should be incorporated through legislation into Israel’s legal system” – not too radical a text you’d have to agree - is exactly the Turkel Commission’s Recommendation No. 1 (document, pages 366-369). The Turkel Commission found that there are gaps in Israeli legislation, noting, among other things that Israel should “ensure that there is legislation to transpose clearly into law and practice the absolute prohibition in international law of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment,” in order “to enable ‘effective penal sanction’ for those committing war crimes, as required by international law.”
Was the Turkel Commission also funded by the EU? Considering the fact that Gerald Steinberg’s Flying Circus – a man who, it should be noted here, had no compunction about sabotaging Yesh Din’s Wikipedia entry – actually said this morning that the IDF and the Government of Israel were responsible for the building of “terror tunnels,” maybe that day will also come.