Organizers of a UN conference, hosted by the European Parliament in Brussels at the end of August, are refusing to make public the list of non-governmental organizations scheduled to attend a controversial conference that has been called "one-sided, partisan and anti-Israel."
"This conference reflects this highly partisan, biased, anti-Israel spirit, as well as the organizational hypocrisy of such international forums, where one-sidedness is coated in neutral language," said Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, executive director of the Transatlantic Institute, a Brussels-based think tank.
"Everything about this conference doesn't seem right; Ten days before its opening the organizers still haven't released the names of the participant groups. If you look at the program, none of the names of the speakers has been listed; they are vetted to prevent anyone from airing anything but the party line. If one digs deeper, it becomes manifest that the individuals and NGOs involved are all of the most extreme Palestinian narrative," said Ottolenghi.
"What the conference will pronounce is pre-determined," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog organization. "The UN's Palestinian Division runs a tightly-controlled operation that accredits only anti-Israel NGOs and speakers. Recently, they've become quite clever. Without altering the virulently anti-Israel nature of their meetings, the organizers instead seek to mask their activities - under such innocent-sounding titles as 'support for Israeli-Palestinian peace.'"
"Moreover, to add credence to their cover, they invite specially approved 'Israelis' - a select group of radicals who openly espouse hatred of Israel, claiming the license to do so because of their citizenship. Both tactics give conference organizers the cover they need for their allies and enablers to then use the material," Neur added.
The two-day conference is being organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and is entitled 'The UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace'.
Poland has already announced that it will boycott the event, and there has been a barrage of protests and accusations that the conference will have a clear anti-Israel agenda.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik have both voiced their concerns, and Itzik has written to the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert PÃ¶ettering, asking him to reconsider hosting the event.
"I will not take part in this conference. I saw the materials prepared by the organizers," said Bronislaw Geremek, a Polish MEP. "Although there is no official statement that Israel must be pushed down to the sea, the choice of subjects and the attitude towards the problems shows that it will be a biased, conflict-generating conference. Actually we can call it anti-Israeli."
Questions are being asked about the aims of the conference and the politicized nature of some of the participants.
"Contrary to the noble-sounding title, the meeting has nothing to do with peace or rapprochement," Neuer said. "The conference will showcase Arab presenters who justify suicide bombings and accuse Israel of being vile, racist and illegitimate, and for balance it will also feature Israeli presenters who justify suicide bombings and accuse Israel of being vile, racist and illegitimate."
Israeli attendees include Michel Warschawski, co-founder and former director of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem who describes himself as "a well-known anti-Zionist activist," Haaretz journalist Amira Hass and Nurit Peled Elhannan.
Elhannan is a woman's rights activist and a founder of Bereaved Families for Peace. After her daughter was killed in a suicide bomb attack in 1997, she became an outspoken critic of Israel. Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2005, she said that the "so-called" free world is "afraid of the Muslim womb."
"Great France of la libertÃ©, l`Ã©galitÃ© et la fraternitÃ© is scared of little girls with head scarves, Great Jewish Israel is afraid of the Muslim womb and its ministers call it a demographic threat. Almighty America and Great Britain are infecting their respective citizens with blind fear of the Muslims, who are depicted as vile, primitive and bloodthirsty, apart from their being non-democratic, chauvinistic and mass producers of future terrorists. This in spite of the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not Muslim. One of them is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is a non-devout Jew [a reference to Bush, Blair and Sharon]."
"The speakers do not accurately represent Israeli civil society or Israel's parliament," said Ottolenghi. "They speak for themselves and the Palestinian viewpoint, which they have all preached heartily."
"This is yet another example of how officials from the EU provide support for radical NGOs leading the anti-Israel campaign through the use of the rhetoric of human rights," said Prof. Gerald Steinberg from NGO Monitor. "Many of the speakers represent NGOs that receive funds from the EU - including ICAHD - under the guise of building peace and development," he continued.
"Now, under the auspices of the UN, these NGOs are allowed the legitimacy to promote their incitement by holding a conference at the European Parliament under the banner of 'humanitarian violations of Israel's military'. This demonization and erasing of Palestinian terror and corruption is systematic of the political war against Israel. Such activities undermine the claims of the EU and its member states' governments - who also fund these NGOs - to be building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians," said Steinberg.
Neuer added, "None of the radical Israeli Jews at the Brussels conference represents even a tiny segment of the Israeli Jewish population. So it's like holding a conference on US-Islamic rapprochement and inviting John Walker Lindh - the American who joined the Taliban - to represent America's position. Technically, Walker is as American as Warschawski and Hass are Israeli. But only a scoundrel or a fool would treat either exercise as anything but a sham." Other known attendees include, Raji Sourani, a human rights lawyer, and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights; Jamal Jumaa who heads the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign; Mohammed Khatib, coordinator of the Popular Committee of Bilin and David Shearer, from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem.