This smear against Israeli human rights activists is all too familiar

Ben White writes: Last week, the president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) launched an extraordinary attack on an Israeli human rights organisation, Adalah, comparing the NGO to the far-right French National Front and British National party.

Moshe Kantor, who heads the umbrella organisation for elected representatives of Europe’s Jewish communities, was responding to a leaked EU document that expressed concern for Israel’s treatment of Palestinian citizens (EJC declined to comment for this article). Claiming that the report had used Adalah as a source, Kantor said:

Adalah, an extremist organisation on the margins of society, openly declares a radical political agenda to change the nature of the state of Israel and has worked alongside some of the most radical elements in the region. It is like using sources from Front National to understand French society or the British National party to understand British society.

Adalah is a well-established legal rights centre in Israel that works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian citizens (“Israeli Arabs”). It has special consultative status with the UN’s economic and social council (ECOSOC), and has received funding over the years from the likes of Oxfam, New Israel Fund and Christian Aid.

Just last month, as Adalah co-founder Hassan Jabareen received an award for his work, the NGO was described [PDF] by retired Israeli supreme court judge Ayala Procaccia as working “to advance human rights” with “outstanding intellectual power” and “high moral commitment”.

Why, then, would the EJC president compare this respected defender of minority rights to a party that Britain’s prime minister has previously described as “a bunch of fascists“?

In a disturbing parallel with the attacks on NGOs in Israel itself, the answer lies in Adalah’s record of defending Palestinian rights against human rights abuses and discrimination perpetrated by the Israeli government.

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