Haroon Siddiqui, al-Haq and Btselem's Double Standards

Published: March 1st 2010

Haroon Siddiqui


Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui bashed the decision made by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development to cease grants to Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations in his January 30, 2010 article “How the Harperites ambushed the rights agency.”


Siddiqui writes the following in this regard:


“That politics played out at the centre. The majority voted 7-6 to repudiate three grants of $10,000 each to B'Tselem (an Israeli NGO critical of human rights violations), Al Haq (in the West Bank) and Al Mazen (in Gaza), approved by Remy Beauregard, the centre's president, who died earlier this month after a stormy board meeting.


“Aurel Braun, board chair, and his allies have echoed the Israeli position that the head of Al Haq, Shawan Jabarin, has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a banned terrorist organization, including in Canada. And that Jabarin is under a travel ban. But, as with most Mideast matters, there's a counter-narrative.”[1]


Siddiqui is right. There is counter-narrative. My ongoing research in recent years has demonstrated that “human rights” is not a magic word that turns Israeli and Palestinian organizations into angels. In more than one hundred articles (most of them in Hebrew) dealing mainly with Btselem but also with Amnesty, Human rights Watch, PCHR, al-Mezan and others, I’ve documented enormous cases of inaccurate reports and biased approaches.


A Palestinian blogger criticizes the pragmatism of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), whose members while heading human rights organizations do not refrain from receiving money from countries which designate the PFLP as a terrorist organization. In this regard, the Palestinian blogger mentions “the comrade (common alias of a PFLP member) Shawan Jabarin who receives direct financial support from [American] Ford Foundation”. Other “comrades” (PFLP’s members) who are involved in human rights activity are also named in his list, including Lamia Jabarin (chairperson of Mandela Institute for Human Rights), Khleda Jarrar Addameer’s chairperson (and member of parliament representing PFLP) and Mariam Abu Daqqa who runs the Association of Women Committees for Social Work, supported by the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA).[2]


Leaving aside the question of funding or defunding human rights organizations, it is worthwhile to refrain from being deluded by the image of these organizations and to put them under scrutiny, as it done in the following analysis on Btselem’s double standards regarding investigating war crimes.


Btselem, the Israeli human rights organization, published an official announcement on February 24, 2010 entitled: “Hamas report to UN shamefully evades responsibility”. In its announcement, Btselem harshly criticized the Hamas government’s response to the Goldstone report, which argued that the “Palestinian armed grouped” launched rockets only at military targets and that it intended just to convey a political message. Btselem stressed that “these claims are baseless, both with respect to the facts and to the provisions of international humanitarian law”.


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