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B’Tselem “proud” partner of war criminals, enemies of Palestinian rights

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B’Tselem is “proud” to share J Street stage with US Vice President Joe Biden and Israel’s Tzipi Livni. (Source)

B’Tselem USA, the American arm of Israel’s B’Tselem human rights group, is once again proud of its partnership with J Street, the Israel lobby group that forcefully campaigns against Palestinian human rights and hosts war criminals at its conferences.

In a 24 September email to supporters, shared with me by Uri Horesh, B’Tselem USA announced:

As part of our strategic cooperation with J Street, B’Tselem USA is a participating organization in their national conference entitled “Our Time to Lead,” which will take place in Washington, DC between September 28 - October 1. We are encouraged to know that this conference will feature remarks by US Vice President Joe Biden and many other distinguished partners and allies and proud to share the stage with them.

J Street opposes a broad range of Palestinian human rights. It specifically endorsed US measures to undermine the UN-commissioned Goldstone report into Israel’s 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza and to block any form of justice for Palestinian victims of Israeli war crimes.

Other speakers at the J Street conference include Israeli war crimes suspect Tzipi Livni, who was foreign minister at the time of the 2008-2009 Gaza invasion, and Martin Indyk, the lifelong operative of the Israel lobby group AIPAC who now serves as Obama’s “peace” envoy.

Biden’s support for Israeli war crimes

If Vice President Biden is “distinguished,” it is as part of a US administration that has spared no effort to block any form of Israeli accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include the ongoing siege of Gaza whose effects continue to devastate the lives of almost 1.7 million people according to the latest UN reports.

As recently as March, Biden boasted in a speech to AIPAC about the Obama administration’s anti-Palestinian efforts, particularly its undermining of the Goldstone report.

The Obama-Biden administration has given unprecedented levels of military aid to Israel, weapons that are directly used to violate the rights of Palestinians and others.

The Obama administration’s own horrifying abuses of human rights, from extrajudicial murders using drones in various countries to force-feeding hunger-striking political prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, ought to be enough for any “human rights” defenders to refrain from expressing such awe at being in the presence of men like Biden.

But this is not the first time B’Tselem has revealed its principles.

“Proud”

Last year, B’Tselem announced that it was “proud” to co-sponsor the J Street conference featuring Israeli war crimes suspect and former prime minister Ehud Olmert as keynote speaker.

B’Tselem director Jessica Montell later claimed that this had been a “mistake.”

Montell said that “B’Tselem has raised grave suspicions regarding serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law under the Olmert government, specifically regarding Operation Cast Lead in Gaza at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. These suspicions and responsibility for any violations have yet to be adequately investigated and addressed. If asked, we would not have advised featuring Olmert as a speaker.”

Despite this, Montell still had the chutzpah to scold Palestinian human rights groups who had spoken out against B’Tselem’s role in the J Street conference.

B’Tselem now seems to have gotten over its concerns and is once again “proud to share the stage” with war crimes suspects and human rights abusers and opponents.

B’Tselem staff are moderating two panels at the conference. Although it relies on Palestinian fieldworkers to collect information, including videos it promotes intensely, not one of the speakers on the B’Tselem-led panels is a Palestinian.

Advisor opposes Palestinian rights

One of the notable members of B’Tselem USA’s Advisory Board is author and Open Zion editor Peter Beinart.

This is an extraordinary choice for a “human rights” organization given Beinart’s public opposition to full human rights for Palestinians.

In a 2010 interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, a former guard at an Israeli prison for Palestinians, Beinart stated his opposition to Palestinian rights in clear language:

I’m not asking Israel to be Utopian. I’m not asking it to allow Palestinians who were forced out (or fled) in 1948 to return to their homes. I’m not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I’m actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel’s security and for its status as a Jewish state.

With “advisors” who don’t even expect Israel to treat all its citizens equally, no wonder B’Tselem is “proud” of the criminal company it keeps.

Comments

In 2012 the United National Anti-War Coalition criticized B'tselem for its US chapter's work with J Street. We were told B'tselem was embarrassed, but had no control over its US group in this matter.

At our convention UNAC passed this resolution:

Condemn J-Street

For years the lobby “ J Street” has advertised itself as a “progressive” Jewish alternative to the infamous AIPAC. It was never true. For instance in October 2009 J-Street proudly published a letter to it of congratulations from Tzipi Livni who had been Israeli Foreign Minister during the Gaza Massacre (2008-2009).

Now it has outdone itself. At its upcoming conference, its “Gala” will be keynoted by Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli Prime Minister. It was Olmert who launched war against Lebanon in which over 1,000 Lebanese died and Israel fired over a million cluster munitions, most after the ceasefire had been worked out. He was also responsible for the Gaza Massacre in which over 1,400 Palestinians were killed.
Incidentally, he left office under a cloud of corruption and is under indictment for “obtaining by fraud under aggravating circumstances, fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents, and tax evasion”

Btselem USA (whose parent group does great work in documenting Palestinian oppression) is a cosponsor of the conference. The great folk singer Theodore Bikel is inexplicably master of ceremonies of the Gala

UNAC condemns J Street for inviting this war criminal Olmert to its conference and calls on Btselem USA, Theodore Bikel and anyone else participating or supporting this event to cancel and to apologize.

Ali, on the ideological level you make some good points but as a matter of successful practical politics, you are off the mark. Should Palestinians be presenting at J St, yes. But Palestinians unfortunately are not successful in getting the word out to J St's kind of audience as to what's happening in the territories. B'Tselem is. They are of huge strategic importance to ending the occupation. Sometimes our allies are imperfect but I would spend my time strengthening B'tselem (there are enough rightists trying to destroy it), not knocking it. Same for J St. As Edward Said wrote so well, if orientalism is not broken through, Americans will never understand or empathize with Palestinians. I disagree with J St on many points, but they are indeed broadening the discourse in the Jewish community and in Congress which is invaluable. Finally, Beinart just wrote his "American Jewish Cocoon" article pushing for American Jewish openess to and communication with Palestinians. That was this month and is more relevant than something he said 4 years ago! We need allies. Everyone needs allies. We need to be careful what we wish for: the alternatives to B'tselem, J St and Beinart are far, far worse for the Palestinian cause than they.

J Street is a well-funded slick betrayer of those who support Palestinian Rights
and who condemn Israeli occupation and oppression among many of its crimes.
I get electronic "ads" from J Street for some curious reason.

I strongly oppose any and all alliance or "encouragement" of the nice,polite
oppressors operating in tandem with other destroyers of Palestinian destroyers
of Palestinian Rights. VP Joe Biden is just representing Washington in its
endorsement of racist, apartheid Israeli apartheid. We already know all too
well what side they are on and there is for them only ONE side : ZIONIST ISRAEL.

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