Israel raps US charity for aiding UN Gaza panel - TriWooOx - 02-10-2010
Quote:A US-based group that funded Israeli NGOs has come under fire by Tel Aviv for allegedly providing evidence against Israel to a UN Gaza war panel.
On January 29, a report issued by Im Tirtzu - a self-described centrist Zionist group - accused the New Israel Fund (NIF) philanthropy of providing most of the evidence to the United Nations' Goldstone Commission that issued a report highly critical of Israel's Gaza war a year ago.
Leaders of the Washington-based group have, however, denied the charges, saying that they are being unfairly targeted by the Israeli conservatives who seek to silence any opposing viewpoints, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
"It's an attempt to stifle dissent," said Daniel Sokatch, the chief executive of the fund, which donates about $15 million annually to "human rights and civil society groups" in Israel.
While acknowledging that some recipients of the charity group had cooperated with the Goldstone inquiry, the NIF Spokeswoman Naomi Paiss said that the human rights groups were just doing their job.
"This is what human rights group do. They are supposed to monitor and report," she explained.
Last fall, the UN Human Rights Council led by the South African judge Richard Goldstone charged Israel and also Hamas of war crimes during the 22-day assault on the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The Goldstone Report also accused the Israeli military of using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and firing phosphorus munitions on Gazans.
About 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed during the deadly offensive.
The extremist Im Tirtzu leaders, however, believe the "unpatriotic" New Israel Fund had financed a "propagandist campaign" aimed at "de-legitimizing Israel, negating its right to exist and its right to self-defense."
Following the Goldstone Report, many foreign aid workers, journalists and charities have encountered Israeli threats and crackdowns.