In today’s ad campaign, Im Tirtzu accuses NIF-supported Israeli human rights groups of spreading “false accusations” against the IDF. Their charges are unfounded.
Im Tirtzu’s latest attack is part of larger narrative which insists that Israeli attention to human rights somehow hurts Israel‘s international reputation. It is the vitality of Israel’s civil society, and of a society that can look at its own conduct to remedy mistakes and injustice, that garners Israel the support of so many around the world.
NIF stands for equality and democracy in Israel. We know that an Israel without a vibrant human rights sector would be a weaker democracy.
Here are the facts:
1) Many fewer civilian lives were lost during Operation Pillar of Defense than in Cast Lead four years ago. This is partially because the Israel Defense Forces, publicly and to its credit, used reports from human rights organizations to improve its operational procedures to better avoid civilian casualties.
Here is what General Avichai Mandelblit (who served as the IDF’s Chief Military Advocate General during Operation Cast Lead) had to say about cooperation with human rights groups: “The organizations are a conduit for getting information on very important matters so that IDF activity is normative. My goal is not, God-forbid, to collect the scalps of commanders on my belt. I’m trying to get at the truth and they really help us do that. Our cooperation with B’tselem stands out. They help us to speak with witnesses, to investigate complaints. They do their work and I do mine. Our interests are not identical. But with all of the criticism from these organizations on us, their goal is to get to the truth.”
3) Im Tirtzu is once again insinuating that the Israeli human rights community was the prime source for the Goldstone report. Repeating a lie loudly and frequently doesn’t make it so. An objective analysis proves that the vast majority of information used in the report came from public sources in the Israeli government while less than two percent of the report’s negative findings about the IDF were attributable to human rights organizations.
4) Not one of the human rights organizations Im Tirtzu attacks accused Israel of war crimes in the recent Gaza action. Some did call for the investigation of allegations, particularly of harm to journalists, medical personnel and children, who are particularly protected under international law. In a properly functioning democracy, law enforcement agencies respond to such calls with investigations as necessary.
5) The right to dissent is often a casualty of war. After Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s human rights community was threatened and vilified and it is now happening again. As in any conflict anywhere, it is the responsibility of human rights groups to monitor and report, and it is their right and everyone’s to offer opinions regarding the conduct of the conflict. NIF staunchly supports the right of the organizations we support to do their jobs, to dissent from the majority based on their own analyses, and to point out controversial issues of concern.