Gaza City, 9am on 21 October 2020 – The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights welcomes the recent answers by the Dutch government in response to parliamentary questions targeting Al Mezan. The questions had been filed by the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV) led by Geert Wilders based on a defamatory report by NGO Monitor, an Israeli organization working to undermine NGOs that defend Palestinian rights.
On 31 August 2020, NGO Monitor issued a publication entitled “Al Mezan Center for Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.” This publication contains a collection of factual inaccuracies, misleading allegations and straightforward propaganda designed to harm our credibility and to deter our donors, including the Dutch government.
The Netherlands has been a long-time donor of Al Mezan, because we defend human rights and promote accountability for violations committed by all parties. In response to the PVV questions, the Dutch government concluded, “there is no reason to assume that there are links between Al Mezan and PFLP.” With that, the Dutch government effectively dismissed and debunked NGO Monitor’s standard tactic of associating Palestinian NGOs with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is on the EU’s sanctions list.
NGO Monitor’s allegations that Al Mezan is institutionally linked to the PFLP or other groups listed by the EU is nothing less than ludicrous. In accordance with our obligation to be impartial and our mandate to challenge human rights violations by all parties, Al Mezan is politically fully independent. While Al Mezan respects the freedom of speech of its employees, the organization has strict human resource policies that ensure the political independence of our employees.
To associate representatives of Al Mezan with the PFLP, NGO Monitor goes as far as swapping the identity of persons. It did so in its publication for one of our Board Members, who was presented as a member of the PFLP Central Committee – who is in fact dead. In reality, this Board Member has no links to the PFLP. He is the deputy head of Palestine’s national human right institution, the Independent Commission of Human Rights (ICHR).
Illustrative of NGO Monitor’s methods and credibility is also the case of one of our researchers, who, according to NGO Monitor, “joined the PFLP at the beginning of the First Intifada and played a fundamental role in the uprising.” In reality, he was an eleven-year-old child in 1987 when the First Intifada began. To support its claim, NGO Monitor links an article on the PFLP website that, again, refers to someone else entirely.
NGO Monitor’s methods have been denounced by the Dutch government before, when it stated that “many of NGO Monitor’s accusations are based on selective citations, half-facts and insinuations” and warned that “these accusations have contributed to a climate in which human rights organizations have come under increasing pressure.” It also acknowledged that NGO Monitor “indeed focuses exclusively on organizations and donors that are critical of Israeli policy in the territories occupied by Israel.”
These positions by the Dutch government echo the words of Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the former EU Ambassador to Israel, who qualified NGO Monitor’s information as “a cocktail of tendentious research, intentional inaccuracies and downright EU-bashing propaganda.”
In its publication, NGO Monitor also claims that Al Mezan lacks transparency. A simple internet search quickly debunks this allegation. As the Dutch government affirmed in its answers to the PVV questions, “Al Mezan complies with all reporting requirements set by the EU, UN, and bilateral donors and requests an annual audit by an international auditor. These audits are published annually by Al Mezan on the site of the Palestinian branch of Transparency International.”
As also reported by the Israeli Policy Working Group in its damning report about NGO Monitor (September 2018), NGO Monitor has been spreading falsehoods and disinformation about Al Mezan’s transparency for years. It is doing so in close cooperation with the Israeli government, which is a global catalyst for shrinking civic space.
Al Mezan is firmly a non-partisan, non-governmental organization, with a strong track record of compliance with international standards and good practices that guarantee our independence and professionalism. Our donors and partners know and value this.
We call on our donors, partners and international civil society at large to unequivocally reject and actively counter the malicious incitement campaigns by the Israeli government, NGO Monitor and similar organizations, which are waged to shield Israel from accountability and to pave the road to its formal annexation of Palestine.