Letters to the Editor: B’Tselem Post-truths and the Secret Summit in Aqaba

B'Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad.
B'Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad. Emil Salman

B’Tselem post-truths on ‘the occupation’

In response to “We are living a lie” (Weekend, February 10).

In Haaretz’s lengthy interview with B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, he described an organization that operates primarily in the international realm, inviting the United Nations and European governments to pressure Israel. Within Israel, B’Tselem is on the fringes, openly rejecting cooperation with vital democratic institutions, including the courts and the army’s investigatory bodies, that El-Ad accuses of being complicit in “the occupation.”

El-Ad had previously described B’Tselem’s mission as “dissent.” Now, according to him, the courts are illegitimate and there is no point in working with the police and prosecutors, even at the expense of Palestinians and their cause.

In this respect, El-Ad has abandoned the facade of human rights that previously characterized B’Tselem.

El-Ad and B’Tselem, after being unable to convince the Israeli public to accept their views, have elected to go outside, by lobbying European governments and the UN to impose their views on the Israeli people (and the Palestinians, for that matter).

B’Tselem’s international advocacy fuels the boycotts and sanctions targeting Israel, and the false war crimes allegations are given credence by UN officials and European diplomats. In a post-truth world, El-Ad claims that his staff are “ambassadors of facts,” but anyone who has ever carefully read a B’Tselem report will see emotional testimonials, vagaries and innuendo, but very little evidence that would justify a change in army policy or intervention from Europe or the ICC.

In an age of political polarization, the disdain and radicalization of El-Ad’s B’Tselem, aided by distant and unaccountable European officials, have become par for the course. Making demands are much easier than offering anything of value or a constructive way forward.

Naftali Balanson

Chief of staff, NGO Monitor

Kerry’s non-starter at Aqaba

John Kerry’s proposal at Aqaba a year ago was doomed to fail from the outset. No sane Arab leader would ever recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel. In fact such a proposition is antithetical to israel’s founding principles of democracy, racial equality, inclusion and justice. Israel as a Jewish state only would mean considering the rights of the Arab population (20 percent of the country) as unequal with their Jewish brethren.

Also, this proposal is a trap to drag Jordan into the abyss of moral bankruptcy and violent conflict. Jordan has been shouldering the brunt of the Palestinian refugees’ displacement since 1948. Over 2 million Jordanian citizens are registered as Palestinian refugees with UNRWA. Jordan is hoisting the banner of Palestinian rights of sovereignty, independence and a viable, contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace with a secure Israel. The Jordanian position was and still is built on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Only then will peace between Arabs and Israelis become a reality.

Dr. Munjed Farid al Qutob

London