Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein, ZOA Chair Mark Levenson, Esq., and ZOA Director of Special Projects Liz Berney, Esq. released the following statement:
It is deeply troubling that the annual U.S. State Department Human Rights Report for 2020, published this week, is strongly biased against the Jewish State of Israel, relies on falsehoods from anti-Israel and terror-connected NGO’s and others, and resumed using the inaccurate term “occupied” to refer to the “West Bank,” Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and eastern Jerusalem. The Trump administration had correctly and appropriately dropped the inaccurate term “occupied.” (See “U.S. State Department Human-Rights Report Returns to Using ‘Occupied’ Territories,” JNS, Mar. 31, 2021.) Israel is not an “occupier” – because Israel has the sovereign rights to these areas under binding international law. Moreover, Israel withdrew from every inch of Gaza, which is now occupied by Hamas; and the Palestinian Authority (PA) governs Areas A and B of the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria), where 98% of the Palestinian Arabs live.
The Biden administration’s “Israel, West Bank, and Gaza” report notes that “Language in this report is not meant to convey a position on any final status issues to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the borders between Israel and any future Palestinian state.” But, if the language is not intended to convey a position, why did the State Department change to inaccurate, hostile-to-Israel language?
Unfortunately, much, much more is wrong with this lengthy new “human rights” report, including its inappropriate reliance on anti-Israel NGOs (including terror-connected NGOs) and other sources that repeatedly lie to vilify Israel; its adoption of HIAS’ attacks on Israel; its extreme under-reporting of Palestinian Arab terror attacks on innocent Jewish Israelis, and resulting Jewish casualties; its failure to identify Israeli victims and Arab perpetrators; its use of false depictions of Israeli defensive actions; and its misleading definitions and statements regarding historical facts. Actually, the report is two separate reports – an “Israel” report and a “West Bank and Gaza” report – although many items hostile to Israel are repeated in both reports. It would literally take a book to set forth all the falsehoods in these reports. Here are just a few of the many problems with these reports:
The State Dep’t Report Inappropriately Relies on Anti-Israel NGOs, Terror-Connected NGOs, Anonymous Sources, and Extreme Anti-Israel Media to Malign Israel:
The State Department report predominantly regurgitates and relies on false allegations maligning Israel, made by interconnected anti-Israel NGOs (non-government organizations) – including NGOs connected with designated terrorist organizations. For instance, NGO St. Yves Society’s advocacy head is a PFLP terrorist convicted of planning a shooting attack against Israelis; and Bimkom and other cited NGOs defended and partner with PFLP front group Addameer.
These NGOs collaborate with one another, and receive millions and millions of dollars annually from foreign funders (including the EU; European governments; the extreme leftwing hostile-to-Israel New Israel Fund (NIF) and Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) to demonize, harass, pursue baseless lawsuits, and invent inflammatory false “war crimes” and other allegations against Israel. As Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid explained, these NGOs such as B’Tselem make up inflated statistics or simply copy Hamas’ lies and circulate this defamation of Israel around the world. (See “B’Tselem’s Lies” by Yair Lapid; and the links in the next paragraph to NGO-Monitor’s reports on each of these NGOs’ noxious defamatory activities and funding.)
Notorious anti-Israel NGOs and UN groups relied upon throughout the State Department report include: Adalah; ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel); Amnesty International; Bimkom; Breaking the Silence (BtS); B’Tselem; HaMoked; Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF); Ir Amin; Military Court Watch (MCW); Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF); Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I); Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI); Sikkuy; St. Yves Society; UN Committee Against Torture (which in turn, relies on anti-Israel NGOs such as PCATI); United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA); UNRWA; and Yesh Din.
Distressingly, the State Department report treats these hateful propaganda groups as legitimate “human rights” organizations, and complains that these NGOs are “stigmatized” in Israel. These confirmed liars and demonizers of Israel surely deserve the stigma resulting from their fraudulent, harmful anti–Israel policies and activities.
Notably, these are the very same NGOs that provide false information to the UN and International Criminal Court (the ICC). U.S. Secretary of State Blinken recently denounced the ICC investigation. If the U.S. State Department is serious about opposing anti-Israel bias at the UN and the illegitimate ICC investigation of Israel, the State Department should not issue reports giving any legitimacy to these NGOs.
The State Department report also reiterates false anti-Israel allegations supposedly made by unnamed anonymous NGOs; unnamed “civil society organizations”; unnamed “Palestinian sources”; unnamed “Palestinian journalists”; unnamed “Arab journalists”; and unnamed “civil society organizations.” Disappointingly, the State Department even repeated false charges made by the Joint Arab List (whose leaders have incited terror against Jews) and the PA (which continues to pay terrorists to murder Jews).
In addition, the State Department report relies on hostile-to-Israel left wing media +972 Magazine and Haaretz. By contrast, the State Department report never cites mainstream or pro-Israel media outlets such as the Jerusalem Post, JNS; Algemeiner, Israel National News; Tazpit; Israel HaYom; Times of Israel, etc.
The State Dep’t Report Reiterates HIAS’ (and HIAS’ Partners’) Attacks on Israel:
The State Department report contains extensive allegations made by HIAS (which now resettles almost no Jews, and now resettles large numbers of likely antisemitic Muslims into the U.S.) and HIAS’ acknowledged partners (ASSAF; Tel Aviv U. Refugee Rights Program; HRM; and UNHCR) misleadingly attacking Israel regarding illegal migrants. HIAS’ primary activity in Israel consists of representing illegal non-Jewish Eritrean economic migrants against the Israeli government.
The State Dep’t Report Woefully Understates Palestinian Arab Terror Attacks on Jews; Fails to Identify Victims as Israeli Jews; and Fails to Identify Perpetrators as Arabs:
The State Department Israel report woefully understates the number of Jewish Israeli victims of Palestinian Arab terror. The report claims (purportedly based on unnamed NGOs and media reports) that Palestinian Arabs killed one Israeli civilian (Esther Horgan) and one IDF soldier (Amit Ben Yigal) in 2020; that individuals affiliated with the PFLP terror organization killed one Israeli civilian (Rina Shnerb) and injured her brother and father in 2019; and that a Palestinian teenager fatally stabbed an Israeli (Ari Fuld) in 2018. In other words, the State Department report only mentions a total of 4 Jews murdered and 2 Jews maimed by Palestinian Arabs during the 3-year 2018-2020 period.
The State Department Israel report thus omitted over 300 other Israeli casualties caused by thousands of Palestinian Arab stabbing, bombing, ramming, IED, rock-throwing, shooting, Molotov-cocktail-throwing, and other terror attacks on innocent Israelis during this period. During 2018-2020, Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered at least 63 innocent Jews and maimed at least 245 innocent Jews, in at least 7,246 terror attacks. The State Department could have readily found this information, including monthly and daily terror attack records, on the Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) website. Yet the State Dep’t ignored the facts.
The State Department report mentions that Israeli Security Forces foiled 423 terror attacks. But this too omits the huge number of terror attacks and Israeli casualties that Palestinian Arabs perpetrated.
The State Department report also demonstrates anti-Israel bias by failing to identify victims as Israeli Jews, and failing to identify perpetrators as Arabs.
For instance, the report contains the following paragraph, which failed to mention that it is Israeli Jewish children who are suffering from nightmares and post-traumatic stress because of rockets from Gaza:
“According to local government officials and human rights organizations, Gaza fence protests, air-raid sirens, and rocket attacks led to psychological distress among children living near Gaza, including nightmares and posttraumatic stress disorder.”
Two more examples appear in the section of the State Dep’t report on Israel entitled “Acts Of Violence, Criminalization, And Other Abuses Based On Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity.” This “Israel” State Dep’t report section describes two different attacks on LGBTQI individuals, and omits that the perpetrators in both cases were Arabs. The State Department report thus left the false impression that Jewish Israelis perpetrated these attacks.
In the first case, the State Department report merely described the attackers as “two individuals” who attempted to murder their 16-year-old LGBTQI brother. (A Times of Israel article at the time had revealed the attackers’ Arab identity.)
Similarly, in the second case, the State Department report merely described the attackers as “two minors” who were indicted for aggravated assault and causing injury to LGBTQI+ minors in Jaffa on August 1. By contrast, a contemporaneous Times of Israel article reported that a man (Itzik) who tried to hold back the attacker stated:
“When I caught the assailant, I shook him and asked why you’re doing things like this,” he said. “He replied to me, ‘We’re Arabs and among Arabs there are no gays and if there are any we kill them immediately.’”
These misleading omissions reveal a concerted effort to repeatedly portray Palestinian Arabs as victims, while downplaying the predominant problem of Palestinian Arab violence against Jews.
The State Department Report Falsely Portrays Defensive Israeli Actions:
Instead of even mentioning the hundreds of innocent Jews murdered and maimed by Palestinian Arab terrorists, and thousands of Palestinian Arab terror attacks, the State Department’s Israel report focuses on unproven, misleading claims, by falsehood-purveyor B’Tselem, that Israeli forces killed a few Palestinians who did not pose a lethal threat to Israeli Security Forces or civilians at the time they were killed.
For instance, the State Department report portrays a teenage PFLP terrorist who was hurling rocks at Israelis as merely an innocent medic (citing unnamed media sources – no doubt of the left wing propaganda variety). The State Department report asserts:
“In March 2019 an IDF soldier shot 17-year-old volunteer medic Sajed Mizher when Israeli forces were involved in clashes with Palestinians in the Deheisha refugee camp near Bethlehem, according to media reports. Mizher later died from his wounds. At the time of his death, Mizher was wearing a reflective vest and paramedic’s service uniform while assisting a Palestinian who had been shot in the leg, according to media reports. A criminal investigation into the incident was completed and was under review by the Military Advocate General (MAG), according to Israeli authorities.”
Here is what apparently actually occurred:
“The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] released a video of the violent incident, in which “dozens of rioters hurled blocks and firebombs at the troops.” In the video, you can see an individual removing an orange reflective vest, of the sort usually worn by emergency medical personnel, and then hurling stones at soldiers.”
See “Palestinian NGO Medic Killed in Bethlehem Clashes Had Ties to PFLP Terror Group,” NGO Monitor, Apr. 1, 2019. The Marxist PFLP terror organization praised their “comrade” Sajed Mizher. (Id.)
The State Dep’t Report’s False and Misleading Definition of “Nakba”:
The State Department Report includes the following misleading definition:
“‘Nakba,’ or ‘catastrophe,’ [is] the term used by Palestinians to refer to the displacement of Palestinians during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.”
In fact, “Nakba” is the Palestinian Arab term for saying that Israel’s existence and re-establishment in 1948 is a “catastrophe.”
The State Department report’s claim that Palestinians were “displaced” is also false. In fact, the Arabs who left did so of their own accord, at the urging of the Arab High Command and Arab leaders (including the Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Said and Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini), to clear the way for six Arab countries’ armies to invade Israel in 1948-1949, with the intention of murdering every Jew. The State Department report also misleadingly omits that Israel’s “War of Independence” was a defensive war, caused by six Arab nations invading Israel, murdering 6,000 Jews, and seizing land lawfully designated for the Jewish state (including Judea and Samaria and the eastern portion of Jerusalem).
Moreover, Israel urged the Arabs to remain in the country in 1948. The 140,000 Arabs who remained in Israel became Israeli citizens.
The State Department Report’s False Statements About “Abandoned” Property:
The State Department also misleadingly states that:
“Jewish landowners and their descendants, or land trusts representing the families, were entitled to reclaim property they had abandoned in East Jerusalem during fighting prior to 1949, but Palestinians who abandoned property in Israel in the same period had no reciprocal right to stake their legal claim to the property . . . . In some cases private Jewish organizations acquired legal ownership of reclaimed Jewish property in East Jerusalem, including in the Old City, and through protracted judicial action sought to evict Palestinian families living there.”
First of all, the Jews did not “abandon” their homes in Judaism’s holiest city. Jewish families who lived in and owned homes, for hundreds or thousands of years, in the eastern portion of Jerusalem, which includes the Old City (where Judaism’s holiest sites are located) and the Jewish Quarter, were forcibly expelled or murdered by the invading Jordanian army in 1948-1949. The Jordanians also blew up 58 synagogues in Jerusalem and its environs, and used the tombstones in the 2,500-year-old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives to pave latrines and roads. And despite Jewish proof of ownership, it can take years of court battles for Jews to recover their properties.
Second, Israel did not drive out or expel the Arabs from their homes. Israel urged Arabs to stay put and live together in peace. The entire Arab “refugee” problem was created by their own aggression, aimed at destroying the reestablished Jewish State of Israel and murdering Jewish people.
Third, in 1949, as even the UN admitted, Israel offered to pay compensation for properties left by Arabs in Israel, as part of a peace settlement. In approximately 1953, a time when Israel was economically struggling to absorb approximately 700,000 of the Jews forced out of Arab lands, Israel paid thousands of Arab claimants cash compensation and granted thousands of acres of alternative lands.
By contrast, the Arabs offered nothing for the far greater losses suffered by Jews, when Jordan expelled the Jews from their ancient homes in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (areas guaranteed to the Jewish state), and when Arab nations expelled or forced out close to a million Jews from their ancient homes throughout the Arab world in the late 1940s through 1950s, and confiscated Jewish property worth $250 billion today.
Fourth, the above State Department report paragraph is essentially demanding a so-called “right of return” for Arabs to overrun Israel – despite the fact that there is no such legal right, and this would destroy the Jewish state.
Fifth, there is also no such entity as “East Jerusalem.” Jerusalem is a united city and the Jewish people’s eternal capital.
The State Dep’t Report Should Be Retracted and Revised:
The above examples only scratch the surface of how the State Department report repeatedly, and unfairly vilifies Israel. ZOA has been exposing the numerous and unprecedented hostile-to-Israel nominees and appointments made by President Biden to key posts affecting U.S.-Israel relations. Is this biased and erroneous report the work of these biased individuals? The State Department report should be retracted and revised, starting by deleting all the anti-Israel NGOs’ false and misleading allegations cited in the report.