Original Article- Hebrew
‘Human Rights’ is a phrase so broadly used in recent decades that some would say its true meaning has been eroded, giving way to a far more cynical use by various parties to further their political agenda. In fact, it seems that with all the growing interest in the topic, the term itself has become a desirable label that can open doors to many different organizations who consider themselves leaders in their struggle. Want media coverage? A fat budget? Doors to be opened, even in oppressive regimes? Add the words “human rights” to your organization’s name and you have a proven recipe for success.
Technological progress has brought with it a wave of stories that have swept the internet and flooded the world. These include descriptions of starvation, illness, persecution, mass murders, and more, by dictatorial regimes and terrorist organizations globally. Including a plethora of heartbreaking personal stories of abuse and suffering, which exposes the dark side of our world. In the age of the information explosion and the worldwide web, which reaches a vast audience, the world can no longer plead ignorance and remain indifferent to these deplorable accounts abuse.
We need to question the integrity of the many organizations that boast “foreign human rights”. Do they actually work towards improving and uphold them? If this was indeed the case, there would be no need for the existence of the plethora of human rights organizations around the world. In fact, if every right that is deprived or trampled on was addressed by these organizations, supposedly devoted to their care, it is reasonable to assume that the extent and the severity of the distress in the world would be reduced considerably. The unfortunate reality is that a significant amount of these organizations have different and anomalous interests disguised as human rights, ranging from blatant political activity to personal greed. The human rights issue has been misused and manipulated to such an extent, especially by those who have made a business out of it, that we can no longer see the forest for the trees.
The compassion and good will of donors and philanthropists is taken advantage of by corrupt organizations who misappropriate funds that donors intended for victims and the needy. This is largely due to the lack of supervision and control of such organizations. To make matters worse, often the manner in which these organizations handle humanitarian issues ultimately brings a deterioration in the victim’s condition, increasing their exploitation at the hands of local governmental officials, or at best a stagnation with no change or improvement.
Claims versus Reality
An example of such corruption is the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, which is solely responsible for its overall operations by means of its security forces. These include successive and ongoing torture, illegal arrests and the absolute silencing of freedom of speech. Citizens who dare to utter a hint of criticism or protest against the regime experience violence and oppression. While the PA is responsible for these atrocities, the main culprit of flagrant and grave violation of human rights against Palestinians in the eyes of the public and many governments around the world, ironically is Israel, presented as an apartheid and oppressive state.
This distortion of reality is led by the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions) calling for the boycotting of Israel throughout the world. This movement purports to represent the plight of the oppressed Palestinians as though it is entirely unaware of the torture chambers of the Palestinian Authority, the illegal detentions carried out daily, or the violent persecution of its members arrested for their opposing political views. If the well being of the Palestinian people was at the very heart of operatives and supporters of the BDS, then why is their outcry not against the Palestinian Authority who is responsible for these violations?
For example, why is the closure of a factory like SodaStream in Ma’aleh Adumim more important to them than the lives of thousands of Palestinians, children and adults, whose lives are now negatively affected in various ways due to its closure? The answer lies in the fact that the organization funding the majority of the movement’s activities, that is, from whom it receives its money … you guessed it…is the Palestinian Authority itself! This helps to explain the policy of the movement against Israel, however, one has to wonder whether BDS should be defined as a legitimate human rights organization?
(Video – 7 Injustices)
You’ve got your talkers, and you’ve got your doers
A refreshing example in sharp contrast to the above, can be found in a small organization called the “Jerusalem Institute of Justice” (JIJ). It actively and effectively operates from its offices in Jerusalem in various arenas including: the monitoring and reporting on human rights violations by the Palestinian Authority, a fierce battle against the sex industry and human trafficking in Israel, and the provision of legal aid to victims of discrimination by the Israeli government, regardless of sex, race or religion.
In an exceptional manner, JIJ seems to maintain a balanced view on the human rights which they claim to defend. This is evident on the Institute’s website as well as its social media accounts that include references to gross human rights violations within Israel itself. Combating prostitution and human trafficking in Israel is a joint effort between JIJ, the Knesset and the Israeli government. JIJ is at work in the legal arena, as well as in the news and social media, to promote social awareness. For example, JIJ helped to organize a public protest against the sex and human trafficking industry in front of a strip club called “Pussycat”, in Tel Aviv.
JIJ desires to bring a more balanced view to human rights injustices in the region, as opposed to other ‘human rights’ organizations who focus only on Israel’s transgressions. When necessary, JIJ also holds the Israeli establishment to account on issues of discrimination of minority groups within Israel’s jurisdiction, as well as exposing the hidden injustices committed by the Palestinian authorities against its citizens.
A supportive hand
Another heart-warming activity JIJ is involved in is helping the lone soldier, especially those from orthodox religious backgrounds that have been abandoned by their families because of their desire to serve their country. These soldiers, who often suffer severe neglect and economic conditions, receive aid from JIJ in the form of essential supplies, social activities and above all a sympathetic ear and moral support.
For Rosh Hashanah last year JIJ hosted a special meal for dozens of lone soldiers who received a great deal of supplies from their sponsors to help them in their service, such as back packs, new shoes, fleece jackets, and more.
What is your part?
We would all like to be better people by contributing to society. It is important to take action and join the battle for the right cause. However, we need to be careful as to which organizations we choose to support. One needs to ensure that they are actually committed to advancing human rights rather than lining their own pockets, or promoting their own hidden agendas.
True human rights organizations ensure that all human beings have the right to life, liberty, and security of person, including the right to education, freedom from torture or cruelty, freedom to peacefully assemble, and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Sadly, they are becoming increasingly rare. It is our responsibility to help them survive by our practical and financial support. Keep in mind that choosing sides only aggravates the conflict and deepens the polarization, this battle should be about right and wrong. The ball is in your court!