Home > Israeli Neoconservatism, Suppression of Dissent > Yossi Alpher on NGO Monitor’s partisan agenda and hypocrisy

Yossi Alpher on NGO Monitor’s partisan agenda and hypocrisy

Yossi Alpher

In this week’s (December 16 2009 issue) Forward, Yossi Alpher slams Gerald Steinberg and NGO Monitor, exposing their partisan agenda, guilt by association methodology and sheer hypocrisy.

Alpher co-edits the bitterlemons.org family of Internet publications. He is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University (now the INSS.)

Partisan agenda

It is not sticking to its Web site’s slogan of “promoting critical debate and accountability of human rights NGOs in the Arab Israeli conflict.” Rather, it seems dead set on eliminating human rights monitoring of Israel entirely and smearing anyone who supports this vital activity. In so doing, NGO Monitor is running roughshod over some important organizations that are working to maintain Israel’s integrity in the context of its ongoing occupation of the West Bank.

Guilt by association

Consider, if you will, NGO Monitor’s “October 2009 Digest,” posted on its Web site. One of the digest’s six items is titled “J Street’s NGO connections.” J Street? Isn’t that the moderate pro-Israel lobby that has received blessings from Shimon Peres and Tzipi Livni? Why is NGO Monitor looking at J Street? The item discusses the recent J Street conference. It notes, with appropriate hyperlinks, that J Street has connections with the New Israel Fund and hosted a speaker from B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

I click on NGO Monitor’s B’Tselem link and find that the organization “regularly minimizes Israeli security concerns” and that “its political agenda is evident in the minimal attention it gives to intra-Palestinian human rights abuses.” But Israeli security concerns and Palestinians killing Palestinians are not part of B’Tselem’s mandate. And even if one often disagrees with B’Tselem, as I sometimes do, it’s hard to deny that it is doing valuable work, usually in a credible fashion.

Yet NGO Monitor’s guilt by association doesn’t stop there: We began with J Street, moved to B’Tselem, then we are transported, through another link, to B’Tselem’s sources of funding, one of which is the Ford Foundation. Ford, we are told, “was among the main funders for extremist NGOs involved in the 2001 UN sponsored Durban conference” and is “still funding anti-Israel groups.” By now we are to understand, via insinuation and guilt by association, that J Street, B’Tselem and Ford are all somehow anti-Israel.


NGO Monitor and an allied organization, the Institute for Zionist Strategies, recently sponsored a seminar in the Knesset that pushed for closer government regulation of human rights NGOs that monitor the occupation and their international donors. Nothing was mentioned, of course, about those American evangelicals who — often in the name of an antisemitic, end-of-days agenda — support West Bank settlers who violate Palestinian human rights. Or about the American Jewish foundations that financially support the ideological settlers’ agenda. Nor did Steinberg and IZS’s head, Israel Harel, fess up, in the interest of transparency, that when they themselves contribute articles to my Web magazines, they gladly accept payment from monies that were provided by the E.U., Ford Foundation, OSI and SIDA — the very donors they condemn.

It’s okay when the donor money goes to right-wingers.

  1. Gabriel Glazer
    December 18, 2009 at 15:44

    I think that Yossi Alper is correct in saying that NGO Monitor, under Gerald Steinberg’s tutelage, has an agenda that goes beyond mere overseeing of the
    proper workings of other NGOs. It seems indisputable that NGOM has become partisan and unreliable,judging from the posture of its reports and analyses.

    Having said this, the subject is not exhausted. I suggest that NGOM is not the
    problem. The problem remains whether the bill drafted by H.K. Eitan has any policy merits worth discussing or should be rejected totally. Should ALL Amutoth be obliged by law to describe on their letter-heads which States help to support them? Would not this disclosure be good for the public to know? And if not, why not? Perhaps disclosure would inhibit open debate? Etc?

    There appear to be public policy issues here which deserve serious attention and debate not least because of the importance of democracy in Israel and the need to strengthen it in the face of increasing pressures from the Right, including the Religious Right.

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