Analysis: Anti-Israel NGOs: The engine driving the ICC assault
ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan announces his filing of arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, May 20, 2024. Photo: YouTube

By David Isaac
May 29, 2024

(JNS) While the International Criminal Court has rightfully been condemned for the outrageous action of its prosecutor in requesting arrest warrants against Israel’s leaders, lined up behind the court are dozens of NGOs that have been pushing it to target Israel for years.

“There is no doubt that NGOs were a significant driver of the ICC activity,” Anne Herzberg, legal adviser at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute, told JNS.

“These NGOs were involved in the creation of the ICC, lobbied governments to join the court and have spent more than 15 years working with the Prosecutor’s Office to circumvent the Rome Statute allowing the Palestinians to join the court and to create cases against Israeli officials,” she said.

She listed Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Al Haq and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) as the most prominent of the NGOs involved in the campaign.

The latter two have been called literal front groups for terror, given their links to the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. Other groups with PFLP ties powering the ICC effort include Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Addameer and Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P).

All these groups enjoy generous funding from the European Union and individual European countries. For instance, Al Haq, a leader in anti-Israel lawfare and BDS campaigns, received donations from the European Union, Norway, Ireland, Italy, France and Spain.

NGO Monitor has approached the European funders to explain to them the truth about these NGOs. The reaction has been disappointing.

“Many European officials initially deny the evidence. Even when presented with photographic evidence of NGO officials attending PFLP meetings and events, these officials refuse to accept it,” said Herzberg.

Some funders began to respond after the murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb in 2019, when several anti-Israel NGO officials were discovered to have been involved in the actual bombing. But other E.U. officials helped these groups circumvent E.U. regulations and many European governments continued to work with them.

Even after Oct. 7, when NGO Monitor presented statements by NGO officials “justifying or even celebrating the Hamas massacres,” only some were cut off by the Swiss and German governments. “But most are still getting funding,” said Herzberg.

Calling the continued funding an “outrage,” she noted, “None of these groups support two states and by definition, if you are affiliated with terrorists, you do not support human rights. Most of the other groups routinely engage in antisemitism, support Israeli eliminationism and ignore Palestinian atrocities. These actions should also bar them from obtaining public funding.”

It’s the “ultimate hypocrisy,” said Herzberg, referring to the phenomenon of NGOs masquerading as ‘human-rights’ groups.

Many of them were “actively complicit” in the disaster of Oct. 7, she said, having remained silent for more than 20 years as aid was diverted to Hamas and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) indoctrinated Palestinian Arab children.

“[They] have produced massive amounts of disinformation falsely accusing Israel of international crimes. They have inflamed the conflict. They must also bear responsibility and be held accountable for their role,” she said.

Although these NGOs influence policy through non-democratic means, mainly by going to the courts as in the case of the ICC, they continue to enjoy wide public support.

They preserve their popularity “based on what we at NGO Monitor call the ‘Halo Effect.’ Because such groups are thought to be engaging in altruistic activities (human rights, humanitarian work), they are automatically granted credibility, even if in practice the record does not support their claims,” she explained.

The best way to counter them is “expose their agendas,” she said. “It becomes quickly apparent that the real objective for most of these groups is the elimination of Israel.”

In terms of countering the ICC offensive specifically, Israel should refuse any cooperation with the court and, instead, focus on the court of public opinion, providing facts to counter the ICC’s false claims, she argued.

Israel should also work with allies prepared to condemn the ICC and demand the court reform itself.

“In the absence of reform, countries should cut off financial assistance and cooperation,” she said.

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