The civilized world has rightfully reacted in shock and horror to the heinous attack in which nearly a thousand Israelis were massacred by Palestinian terrorists. Slaughtering, torturing, raping, maiming and kidnapping, all while firing thousands of rockets at population centers, are the antithesis of humanity and deserving of unequivocal condemnation.
In contrast, an influential group of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—all funded extensively and unironically by European governments to promote “human rights” and “international law”—are doing the exact opposite. They continue to lay the ideological groundwork to grant legitimacy to the Hamas attacks.
And they are being joined by international NGOs, which are complicit in this distortion and exploitation of human rights, including blaming the Israeli victims.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, the day after the attacks began, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)—NGOs with links to the outlawed PFLP terror group—issued a joint statement appearing to justify “an operation in response to escalating Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people.” Far from condemning Hamas’s barbarism, they “urge[d] the international community to take immediate and urgent action to stop Israel’s revenge and reprisal against Gaza’s civilian population…. and to impose sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel.”
These NGOs, considered “highly respected” by journalists, academics and diplomats, are not supporting universal human rights. Rather, they are legitimizing atrocities and advancing particular political agendas. They are attempting to shift the narrative to preemptive allegations of Israeli wrongdoing and to reinvigorate the “apartheid” and related anti-Israel BDS campaigns.
For years, this NGO network has promoted narratives that parallel Hamas’s genocidal goals, most relevantly in international forums ostensibly meant to promote human rights. For instance, Al-Haq – whose donors include the European Union, Norway, Ireland, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden—spearheaded a wildly antisemitic May 2022 report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent Commission of Inquiry against Israel. The submission presented a blatantly false historical account that denied Israel’s right to exist, categorized Israel’s very existence as illegal “settler colonialism” and “apartheid,” and labeled Zionism a form of racism.
In the past, PCHR—which is funded by the European Union, France, Ireland and Spain, as well as Europe-based foundations and U.N. agencies—has worked to legitimize terror attacks against civilians emanating from Gaza. In May of this year, following rocket attacks by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PCHR published a statement affirming “the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.” Following pressure from European donors, PCHR altered the text to read: “to resist the occupation by all legitimate means in accordance with international law.” The NGO’s intentions were clear, but the funding continued.
Now, and following the same pattern, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), comprising over 100 NGOs and funded by the European Union, could not find words to condemn Hamas’s attacks. Instead, they wrote, “The world must see the true reality, which is that the Palestinian people have been facing, for more than 75 years, a racist, fascist occupation…” (translated from the original Arabic by NGO Monitor).
Similarly, an “urgent action alert” shared by the BDS National Committee, which, while not openly funded by European governments, represents a large swath of Palestinian “civil society” and its supporters around the world. Apparently, the main proponents of demonizing Israel through boycotts “believe that the heroic actions of Hamas fighters against the occupying forces are reasonable in their quest to liberate their stolen lands…[through the] justified use of armed resistance against the oppressors’ military and civilians.”
This sickening outlook is bolstered by the rhetoric of influential international NGOs that claim to promote human rights. To be sure, these NGOs usually avoid explicitly supporting atrocities against civilians. However, they contribute a narrative that downplays and distracts from the evil, and illegality, of Hamas’s actions.
For example, a senior official from Human Rights Watch (HRW) referred to the attacks as “resistance to apartheid and oppression” and bashed the United States for promoting peace between Israel and Arab countries. In its statements, Amnesty International recycled transparent Palestinian propaganda blaming Israel for inciting “violence and tensions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, especially around religious sites”—as if this is in any way germane to the devastation.
To anyone following the NGO campaigns, none of this is surprising. In repeated rounds of conflict and after other incidents, Palestinian NGOs and anti-Israel international groups have consistently distorted beyond recognition concepts such as “human rights” and “international law”—all in the service of the political war against Israel.
Tragically and immorally, European governments continue to fund the Palestinian NGOs, year after year, despite their clear and obvious anti-human rights stances. How many more antisemitic and violent statements do European officials need to read and ignore?
In the wake of the inhuman pogrom from Gaza, responsible officials from the European Union and other European governments have declared they will suspend aid to the Palestinians, including NGOs. This is the minimum required for those who claim to be leaders of the civilized world. Europe must finally and permanently cease funding and other support for NGOs that justify and celebrate violence.