Sunday, February 07, 2010

Rights and Democracy: B'Tselem strikes back

B'Tselem, the Israel-based human rights group labeled "toxic" and "Israeli in name only" by the Chair of Rights and Democracy, Aurel Braun, has issued a stiffly-worded press release calling for an end to his on-going slander of the organization.

Rather than paraphrase, I reproduce that release, dated February 4, in its entirety. It's high time that the mainstream media, which have made free with Braun's comments of late, take note of it.

Press Release - for immediate publication

B'Tselem demands a halt to baseless assault by Rights and Democracy chair

B'Tselem has written to demand that Board members of the Canadian organization Rights and Democracy stop maligning B'Tselem's name. In a letter by B'Tselem Executive Director Jessica Montell, to Aurel Braun, Chairman of Rights and Democracy, Montell demands that he cease his ongoing public attacks on the Israeli human rights NGO.

B'Tselem read in the Canadian press that the board of Rights and Democracy voted to "repudiate" its grant to the organization. "We were outraged to read quotes in the press in which some members of the Board cast baseless aspersions on B'Tselem and the integrity of our work", writes Montell. "These statements reveal profound, even offensive ignorance about B'Tselem's work and its role in Israeli society".

In its twenty years of activity, B'Tselem has earned a reputation both in Israel and around the world as the most reliable source for information on human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Leading journalists, policymakers and academics consistently cite B'Tselem as their primary source for reliable information about human rights and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. B'Tselem is proud of its role in generating Israeli public discussion regarding human rights, and in fostering real improvements in Israel 's human rights policies.

In addition to its documentation and advocacy activities, B'Tselem works closely with the Israeli military authorities in order to promote accountability. Israel 's Judge-Advocate General has repeatedly praised his cooperation with B'Tselem, including in a recent feature in Israel 's Haaretz newspaper: "My goal is to get at the truth, and they definitely help us do that. The cooperation with B'Tselem stands out in particular. They help us speak to witness, to examine complaints. They do their job and I do mine. The interests are not identical, but with all the criticism of these organizations of us, their goal is to seek out the truth."

B'Tselem is motivated by a deep commitment to Israeli society, as well as a commitment to universal human rights principles. It strives for a future in which Israelis and Palestinians alike will live in freedom and dignity.

Two Palestinian organizations - al-Haq and al-Mezan - were similarly attacked in the Canadian press. B'Tselem also protested these attacks, citing the reputation both organizations have earned for their courageous work against human rights violations by Israeli as well as Palestinian authorities.

For further information contact:
Sarit Michaeli, Press Officer, at +972 (0)50-5387230 or
Mitchell Plitnick, Director of US Communications Phone: +1-202-783-0629

Sarit Michaeli
Press Officer
+972 (0) 73-2509305 (office)
+972 (0)50 5387230 (cell)

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