Loose ends

It’s Friday, so I thought I’d string together a few loose ends — what a great mixed metaphor!

A couple of days ago I wrote about Avigdor Lieberman’s initiative to establish a parliamentary committee of inquiry to investigate foreign funding of left-wing NGOs:

Can you imagine the outcry if an American NGO which called for opening the border between the US and Mexico turned out to be funded by the Mexican government? And keep in mind that the question of illegal immigration to the US is not (yet) an existential threat. Nobody is firing rockets across the Rio Grande. — FresnoZionism

Well, there are those in Israel who feel that, despite the severity of the problem, Lieberman’s approach is counterproductive. Here is what Gerald Steinberg of the organization NGO Monitor — which has been doing a  tremendous job in connecting the dots between NGOs and Israel’s enemies — wrote yesterday:

The brief and stormy discussion in the Knesset last week demonstrated the intense political nature of this initiative, and the ease with which substantive research is pushed aside by simplistic slogans, from both ends of the ideological spectrum. For the Right, NGOs that use the language of human rights are all portrayed as enemies of Israel, without distinction, while the Left (including NGO officials) seeks to prevent all criticism and debate as “anti-democratic.”

When MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu) introduced the motion to establish the parliamentary inquiry, she claimed that Arab governments and terror groups are among the major funders of the NGOs responsible for “lawfare” campaigns that seek to label Israelis as “war criminals.”

NGO Monitor has not found documented evidence for either claim, although it is possible that such secret funding exists.

In contrast, we have shown the massive and often secret funding for highly political NGOs from European governments, and the European Union in particular. Europe, which preaches democracy and good government to others, blatantly violates the basic rules of funding transparency and open debate. An impenetrable shroud of secrecy hides all aspects of the processes by which the EU funds groups such as Yesh Din, Adalah, PCATI and many Palestinian groups. — Gerald Steinberg, Jerusalem Post

I also included a video clip of a Palestinian TV ad, paid for by the government of Spain, calling for a boycott of all Israeli products, and suggesting that Israel bears the responsibility for violence between Jews and Arabs. It turns out that the Spanish government didn’t approve of the content of the TV ad they paid for:

“We are the victims of this fraud,” said Alvar Iranzo, Spanish Ambassador to Israel, although he had not yet contacted the PA for an explanation. The Spanish consulate in Jerusalem would follow up on the matter, he explained, describing the ad as “in frontal opposition to the [Spanish] government’s opposition to any boycott of Israeli goods, much less a blanket boycott like the one insinuated in the video.”

A senior PA official who wanted to remain anonymous told the Jerusalem Post that the ad would be “corrected” and that “someone made a mistake,” calling for the boycott of all Israeli products, while they intended to call only for boycott of products from “Jewish settlements.” — Palestinian Media Watch

Oh — just the “Jewish settlements.” Imagine my relief.

Another item in the news the last couple of weeks was the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma, allegedly from inhaling tear gas used to suppress a violent demonstration in Bili’in. The best information developed by an IDF investigation shows that Abu Rahma was not present at the demonstration, but was in or near a house 500 meters — more than a quarter mile — away. She had been receiving treatment at a Palestinian hospital for an unspecified serious illness, and died as a result of this treatment.

Of course those who believe that the IDF always lies, and that Palestinian Arabs tell the truth, continue to believe that she was murdered. And this case joins so many others, in which fabricated stories have been reported as true in the press:

• Most famously, there is the case of Mohammed Al-Dura in September 2000. The many inconsistencies in the France 2 report blaming Israeli soldiers for his death have been documented extensively.

• Following the winter 2008-09 Gaza war, Khaled Abed Rabbo of Abed Rabbo in the northern Gaza Strip gave numerous completely contradictory accounts concerning the deaths of his daughters,

• In April 2010, there was the case of Muhammed Faramawi, 15, who was said to have been shot “by Israeli forces” and “left bleeding for hours” before Israel allowed paramedics to evacuate him, has emerged, alive and well after having been held by Egyptian authorities.

• In May 2008, Muhammad al-Harrani, a father of six from Gaza diagnosed with cancer who reportedly died while waiting for a permit to enter Israel, miraculously “came back to life.”

• In July 2003, Palestinian sources blamed the death of four Gaza men on Israel, when it later came to light that they died in a so-called “work accident,” i.e., while preparing explosives.

• An April 2002 staged funeral in Jenin, in which pallbearers drop a stretcher with a corpse, who falls off, and climbs right back on the stretcher.


Unfortunately, even after such stories are shown to be false, and (sometimes) grudging corrections appear in mainstream media, they hang on, often embellished, in blogs and alternative media like Pacifica Radio.

Finally, another thing on my mind is the crisis in Lebanon. Hizballah has brought down the government and is threatening civil war unless the Lebanese PM, Saad Hariri, disavows the UN Special Tribunal which is expected to present a report which accuses Hizballah of having a part in the murder of his father, Rafik.

It’s a power play which might even trigger war with Israel, although it’s highly unlikely that the Iranian regime, which controls Hizballah, wants it to get that far, preferring to use the threat of Hizballah’s rockets to deter an Israeli attack on its nuclear program. But violence can be hard to control. Here’s an excellent explanation of the situation, by Jonathan Spyer.

I’m ending a short visit to Israel now, about to endure the 15-hour direct flight back to Los Angeles. Yesterday I was at the Western Wall, and numerous beggars asked for charity, saying (inaccurately) “tomorrow is Shabbat.” Now it’s true, and I wish my readers a Shabbat shalom.

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