The situation described below has serious implications in several respects. It is a major story that is finally starting to get badly needed attention.
And so, I ask that you share this as broadly as possible. You assist Israel when you provide solid, factual information that is not well known or understood.
The malign machinations of a number of anti-Israel NGOs (not-for-profit organizations) working within the Palestinian Authority have not gone entirely unnoticed. For years there have been those who understood that a number of these organizations use as a cover for their virulently anti-Israel agenda the pretext that they function exclusively as “human rights organizations” diligently attending to the rights of beleaguered Palestinian Arabs.
These NGOs, promoting their image as noble defenders of the downtrodden, have been embraced by many who have no clue as to what they truly are. Of course, there are others who embrace them because of what they truly are.
From time to time Information about some of these NGOs has made it into the public domain – and I will look at this in more detail below. Many people, however, have continued to be deluded by the organizations’ pretense of being exclusively concerned with the promotion of human rights or have chosen to ignore the information. Whatever the case, the NGOs have not been held accountable.
But now the situation has begun to shift significantly:
Last Friday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed an order designating six Palestinian Authority “human rights” organizations as branches of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization.
The six organizations he named were:
 Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC)
 ADDAMEER – Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
 Bisan Center for Research and Development
 Al-Haq Organization
 Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P)
 Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
In coordination with this, Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) put out a statement on its website. It indicated that it had participated in a joint investigation with Israel’s General Security Service (Shin Bet) that had been given legal approval. The investigation was instituted by the Defense and Justice Ministries in accordance with the 2016 Anti-Terror Law.
What the investigation uncovered was that six organizations (those named by Gantz) actually belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They “were designated as terror organizations because they constitute a network of organizations active undercover on the international front on behalf of the ‘Popular Front’, to support its activity and further its goals…
“…The declared organizations are controlled by the senior leaders of the ‘Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’ and employ many Popular Front activists in field and management positions, including activists who participated in terror activity…
“…Those organizations present themselves as acting for humanitarian purposes; however, they serve as a cover for the “Popular Front” promotion and financing…
“…those organizations, controlled by the Popular Front…take a significant part in…the growth of the terror organization.
“In addition, the declared organizations received large sums of money from European countries and international organizations, [utilizing forgery and deception]. Those funds served the Popular Front for payments to security prisoners’ families and the “Shaheeds” [so-called martyrs], wages for activists, enlistment of activists, promotion of terror activity…promotion of the Popular Front activity in Jerusalem, and dissemination of the Organization’s messages and ideology.” (All emphasis added)
Founded in 1967 by George Habash, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a secular Marxist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the founding of a Palestinian state. It is present both in Gaza and in Palestinian Authority areas in Judea & Samaria. It is the second largest party in the PLO after Fatah, but absents itself with regard to all agreements with Israel.
The US, Canada and the European Union have all identified the PLFP as a terrorist entity. We cannot fully comprehend the import of what is taking place now without understanding that this group advocates for terrorism and has been responsible over the years for several major attacks:
The group was involved with a number of suicide bombings and the 1976 Entebbe hijacking, as well as other hijackings. They carried out the 2001 assassination of Minister of Tourism Rehavam Zeevi; the horrendous Har Nof synagogue massacre in 2014 (pictured); and the 2019 bombing at Ein Bubin (a spring in the Dolev area) of 17-year old Rina Shnerb.
We are looking at a vile, a detestable group: involvement by certain NGOs in assisting and strengthening it must not be taken lightly. Gantz’s designation of these groups as terrorist authorizes Israel to close their offices, seize their assets and arrest their staff in Judea and Samaria.
What has evolved in the face of Gantz’s action is a protest arising from a number of different sources. This, too, is part of the story. Most troublesome has been the response of the US.
The charge was made that the Israelis did not provide advance notice that this action was to be taken.
“We believe respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and a strong civil society are critically important for responsible and responsive governance,” intoned State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
The US will “be engaging our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations.”
Israeli officials, however, are adamant in maintaining that the US was informed.
“A senior Israeli defense ministry source, speaking on Saturday evening, said that US officials were given prior warning of Israel’s intention of making the announcement regarding the classification of the six Palestinian NGOs as branches of the PFLP and that Washington was provided with intelligence on the matter.
“The source said that the six organizations operate ‘as an organized network’ led by PFLP and have been involved in the execution of terror attacks.” (Emphasis added)
Two Israeli ministries have now put out statements regarding the fact that the US was informed: The Ministry of Defense said evidence of the involvement of the NGOs is “ironclad, and includes video footage, photos, payment receipts that tie the said groups to the backing of terror activity.” This, according to one report, was handed to officials in the US last week.
Additionally, envoys from the Shin Bet and the Foreign Ministry will be traveling to the US to discuss this further.
We must ask where the US is coming from on this – what is its need to avoid appearing to be “siding” with Israel against the Palestinian Authority. This seems to be of a piece with other recent positions emerging from the Biden administration with regard to issues such as that diplomatic mission/consulate for the Palestinian Authority. None of this indicates a smooth road ahead for Israel.
I have written about the need to stand strong for Israel. Gantz is doing that right now.
Others, including the UN and the EU, have criticized what Gantz has done. This hardly comes as a surprise, and in point of fact both groups, but most notably the EU, have donated to at least some of these NGOs.
Criticism came, as we might expect, from left wing groups such as JStreet. Declared the Human Rights Watch, which is itself very problematic: “This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement.” And, of course, left-wing members of Congress weighed in – we would hardly expect it to be otherwise.
Most disheartening is that it has also come from the far left Meretz party, which sits as part of the government – for as long as this government lasts.
That there should be a furor over what Gantz announced might be considered a bit surprising in light of how much evidence with regard to this situation was out there even before the current announcement.
Members of the six NGOs named by Gantz have been arrested for terrorist activity:
Al-Haq, a “human-rights organization” is, according to journalist Amnon Lord, the best know NGO on Gantz’s list. “The Defense Ministry had no trouble declaring it as a terror group, though, as its officials are members of the PFLP and are known to have participated in terrorist activities.”
We learn from NGO-Monitor (see below) that Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq’s General Director, was convicted in 1985 for recruiting and arranging training for PFLP members. In 2008, he was referred to by Israel’s Supreme Court as a “senior activist” in the PFLP.
Samir Arbid and Razak Praj of the NGO Union of Agricultural Work Committees were both arrested for their roles in the deadly Ein Bubin attack that killed 17-year-old Rina Schnerb.
NGO Monitor, which does sterling investigative work with regard to NGOs, has declared that there are not six but 13 “human rights” organizations that have a connection to PFLP. See list here:
This is what NGO-Monitor had on its website:
“As of September 1, 2021, we have also identified over 70 staff and board members, as well as other officials who hold positions in both the NGOs and the PFLP.”
Seventy high level members of the identified NGOs also hold positions in the PLFP. Seventy!!
And there is Im Tirtzu, an Israeli NGO that works to strengthen Zionism. It recently released a report in which it revealed the findings of a survey of 19 Palestinian Authority NGOs that receive funding from the UN. Eight of them have ties to Hamas or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Among those listed as having terror ties were the Union of Agricultural Work Committees – which was listed by Gantz – and the Union of Health Work Committees.
And note, please, these committees have been identified by USAID as the respective agricultural and health arms of the PFLP.
USAID? That is an agency of the US federal government. A pity Ned Price was not aware of this.
Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO-Monitor, in praising Gantz’s action, said the following:
“Although the PFLP is a declared terrorist organization in the United States, Israel, Canada, and the European Union, many European governments have continued to invest in PFLP-linked NGOs for 20 years, severely exploiting their taxpayers’ money. These recurring cases point to a widespread phenomenon, and it is time for Europeans to freeze grants and set up independent mechanisms for evaluating funding for NGOs.” (Emphasis added)
He is, of course, absolutely correct. There have been successes in this regard, with European nations re-evaluating support for various PLO groups; the realities must be broadcast widely.
That said, I would like to close with another thought: We are in the midst of a time in which there is once again, insanely, promotion of a “two-state solution.” Those pushing it would prefer to see the Palestinian Authority/PLO represented in the most positive light – as a “peace loving” partner for Israel.
What Defense Minister Gantz has done works against this goal, publicly exposing truths about the Palestinian Authority/PLO that are not congruent with a peaceful image. For Heaven’s sake, the PFLP, a recognized terror organization, is nominally PART of the PLO, even if it absents itself from certain of its policies. And NGOs that work under the umbrella of the Palestinian Authority are partners to the PFLP.
Thus is it especially important to get this information out. And thus can we expect considerable ire to be expressed by those pushing that “peace process.” I do not anticipate a smooth ride ahead if Israel holds tight. (There are Ra’am and Meretz to contend with on the left, and disgruntled ministers in the government unhappy about not having been informed in advance.)
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.