The Guardian’s former Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood reported on Israel’s recent designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terror organisations (“Israel labels Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organisations”, Oct. 22). The report begins by noting the NGOs in question, Al-Haq, Addameer, Defence for Children International – Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, but then downplays the terror group they’re allegedly affiliated with:
The Israeli defence ministry said they were linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a secular political movement with an armed wing that in the past carried out attacks against Israel.
The (Iranian backed) PFLP seeks Israel’s destruction, a fact the Guardian doesn’t mention, and is designated by most Western nations as a terror group – a fact only alluded to in the last sentence of the article. The group has carried out scores of deadly attacks on Israeli civilians over the years – including suicide bombings and the murder of an Israeli minister in 2001.
And, these attacks weren’t just “in the past”, to quote Sherwood’s odd formulation. The PFLP was one of the Gaza terror groups firing rockets into Israel during the Gaza conflict this past May. They also claimed responsibility for a fatal 2019 West Bank bombing which killed 17 year-old Israeli, Rina Shnerb.
In fact, the PFLP terrorists accused of carrying out that attack, Samer Arbid and Abdul Razeq Farraj, worked for one of the proscribed NGOs, Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). The Netherlands also suspended their funding of UAWC after it was reported that the group used aid money to pay salaries to the two suspected terrorists.
PFLP terrorists also carried out the brutal 2014 massacre of worshippers in a Har Nof, Jerusalem synagogue, which killed six.
Amjad Awad and Hakim Awad, the terrorists responsible for the 2011 attack in Itamar, in which Ehud and Ruth Fogel, and three of their six children – the youngest being three months old – were savagely murdered in their home, were affiliated with PFLP.
The Guardian reporter no doubts remember that brutal killing because she covered it at the time.
Though the Guardian article quotes from the Defence Ministry’s assertion that the NGOs diverted international humanitarian aid to a proscribed terror group, that they constitute arms of the PFLP leadership, and that some of the NGO members personally participated in terror, it doesn’t inform readers of open-source information that corroborates many of these allegations.
NGO Monitor has identified a network of 13 NGOs (including the six in question) linked to the PFLP.
The Guardian then includes three quotes attacking Israel’s decision to designate the six NGOs as terror groups: the Palestinian Authority, B’Tselem and Shawan Jabarin, the director of Al-Haq (one of the proscribed groups). In the case of Jabarin, the Guardian fails to reveal that he was convicted in 1985 for recruiting and arranging training for PFLP members and, in 2008, was referred to by Israel’s Supreme Court as a “senior activist” in the PFLP.
Now, here’s the Guardian’s penultimate sentence:
The Israeli government has previously cracked down on Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organisations by clamping down on funding, denying entry to employees, and raiding offices.
The source imbedded in the sentence leads to a Guardian article on an NGO Transparency bill passed by the Knesset in 2016. The law doesn’t “clamp down” on funding, but merely requires NGOs receiving more than 50% of their funds from foreign governments to note this on their publications. NGOs failing to do so would be fined. Though there were of course critics of the law, it can’t reasonably be characterised as a “crackdown” on human rights groups, and, in fact, Freedom House’s yearly reports on civil liberties and political rights consistently lists Israel as the only truly “Free” country in the region.
Instead of engaging in serious reporting, and thoroughly investigating the charges against these NGOs, Harriet Sherwood did what she did consistently from 2010-2014 whilst serving as the Guardian’s regional correspondent, copying and pasting criticism from anti-Israel groups and dutifully providing her readers what they expect: a story based on the assumption of Israeli bad faith and Palestinian innocence.