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Sacks’critique of NGO funding hypocritical in the extreme

  • Letter3
Shaun Sacks of NGO Monitor takes issue with non-governmental organisations working for human rights in Israel. His critique is disingenuous, and based on innuendo rather than fact. His distorted analysis doesn’t fool savvy South Africans.
by Basil Dubb, Jewish Democratic Initiative | Sep 26, 2019

Sacks spends large amounts of print on NGO funding models, casting aspersions on their overseas source. He fails to mention that his organisation, NGO Monitor, is almost completely funded from overseas, and backed by neoconservative United States funders.

NGO Monitor doesn’t engage in bettering the lives of others. It focuses on silencing any group critical of Israeli occupation. It devotes its ample resources to denigrating organisations that work ceaselessly to improve living conditions, giving a voice to the voiceless, and publicising and criticising where and when abuse takes place.

In spite of this lack of positive involvement, Sacks feels qualified to offer the following opinion:

“Many of these groups have lost sight of the true meaning of human rights,” he complains.

Hypocritical is a polite description of this statement.

Taking a different line, Sacks tries the irrelevancy tactic with this clanger, “Israeli society has progressed ... shifting beyond the narrow view of seeing everything through the prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Is this complete naivete or, more likely, a statement reflective of NGO Monitor’s propaganda strategy? The current Israeli election contains factions within parties, and also entire parties whose policies are based largely on occupation and annexation. The Yamina Party’s oft-quoted slogan “maximum land minimum Palestinians” is hardly “shifting beyond” conflict. It’s a call to annex, to enact policy to displace Palestinians who impede settlement aspirations forcefully.

The conflict is, in fact, front and centre of the Israeli political landscape.

False analysis, designed to lull the diaspora into acquiescence, cannot find traction in South Africa. We have a history of the apartheid government’s harassment of human-rights NGOs, and we know how negatively that is judged.

The Jewish Democratic Initiative (JDI) is proud to have presented Jessica Montell and other Israeli human-rights activists to South Africans. We regard their work as honourable in concept and implementation.

NGO Monitor’s work forms part of a system of injustice that represents an existential threat to Israel’s existence as a democratic state. It is a propaganda machine utilising enormous resources to prevent the reality of Israel as an occupying power from becoming known to the diaspora.

Shaun Sacks’ article in the SA Jewish Report is a case in point. 


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